Leadership is a highly sought after quality for many people. According to leadership developer and expert Dr. Tasha Eurich, anybody can be a leader. In this revealing interview, Eurich describes what sparked her interest in making leaders better leaders.
Tell us a little bit more about your work. What got you interested in leadership development as a career?
My purpose in life is to help leaders be better. When I was a child, my parents got divorced and I was raised by my mother. She started a business, and I remember thinking when I was 5 or 6 that what she was doing was amazing. That’s when I knew I was interested in leadership and business. In college, I was interested in psychology and I never knew there was a field called organizational psychology. I wanted to study leadership really deeply, which is why I got my PhD, but more than anything I really wanted to roll up my sleeves and help leaders be better.
What kinds of leadership need to be developed more in our world today?
I believe that everyone is a leader. In order to work in our very global, very collaborative world, unless you are in a room in front of a computer all day, everybody needs to have some leadership qualities. There’s been all this talk of “the traits of effective leaders” (thing like charisma). That’s the wrong conversation. We need to be talking about the behaviors of leaders, rather than the traits. As a whole, the world needs more leaders. When we talk about specific traits, we shut out people that don’t have those traits. It’s all about behavior—more specifically, research tells us that the two behaviors all leaders need to master are being considerate and getting things done.
What leaders do you find inspiring?
Right now, I am really excited about the new CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella. He seems to balance producing results and treating his employees like human beings quite well. Another leader is Alan Mulally from Ford. He led one of the most impressive corporate turn arounds not by commanding, but by collaborating. There’s also Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar. She led a political revolution not by being larger than life, but by listening to and connecting with people.
Can anybody be a leader?
Heck yes. 70% of leadership is learnable, and 96% of people can learn to be leaders. The other 4% are sociopaths who lack the ability to empathize with other people.
What do you do in your own life to be a better leader?
The purpose of leadership is to create other leaders. Right now, my biggest focus is to be a person who adds value to the world. For example, I volunteer with the Global Livingston Institute—in a few days, I’m going to Uganda to facilitate a Women’s Leadership Retreat to help women halfway around the world be better leaders in a country where women even getting an education can be difficult.
Tell us more about your book, Bankable Leadership: Happy People, Bottom Line Results and the Power to Deliver Both
Every leader that I coach has a huge stack of books about leadership that they never have time to read. No book can turn you into Nelson Mandella, but I wanted to write a book that was like an encyclopedia of leadership—in other words, it would teach people the behaviors and tools to get them at least 80% of the way there. People ask me what it means to be a Bankable Leader: Bankable Leaders create happy, fulfilled teams and drive results for their business, without seeing those two things as a trade-off.
If you weren’t in leadership development, what would you be doing?
I was a double major in college: theatre and psychology. I spent my entire childhood acting. I was not a good enough actor to make a career of it, but I would probably be a Broadway producer.
What’s something few people know about you?
I was a competitive figure skater when I was younger. Also, clearly not good enough to make it to the Olympics!
If you’d like to learn more about Tasha Eurich’s work, come on down to the Ellie Caulkins Opera House on June 14 for our big event, Emergence. This link will lead you to our ticketing website…