I know it may sound crazy, but on Thursday evening after my 19th round of Proton Beam radiation, Barb and I travelled over to the Harvard Business School where I spent 75 minutes sharing the leadership lessons of my medical journey to ~50 participants of Harvard’s Advanced Management Program (AMP) class 194. The session was called “Adversity’s Crooked Smile- the courage to persevere”. The main point was to ask them when Adversity enters your life, do you define how you will handle it or do you let it define you. I’m confident you know my approach.

Here are the 5 points of view I shared with them.

1- Great leadership is the permanent marriage of intelligence (IQ) with the soft skills of Leadership (Emotional Intelligence or EQ).

IQ leaders deal with business environments that are Volatile, Uncertain, Complex & Ambiguous and EQ leaders use Vulnerability, Authenticity, Caring and Empathy. The combo of the 2 yields the best outcomes!

2- Leaders are responsible for Inspiring their people. Inspiration comes from the latin word “Inspira” which means to “breathe life into” and I asked the participants if their natural leadership styes lift people up or sucks the air our of them. What’s your style?

3. Leaders are responsible for creating moods where people can do their best work in trustworthy environments. I once heard a quote that really sticks with me- “Moods are everything and narratives are the rest” – ponder on this one for a bit! (ps- Thanks Toby)

4. Leaders help their people find their “Why” so they can do purpose driven work. One of my favorite quotes on this is from Mark Twain and is a key component of every journal I use in determining not only my ambition but the ambitions of my wonderful mentees.

“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you figure out why” ~ Mark Twain

I like to substitute the word “Why” with ambition, calling, passion, fire in the belly or what’s your verse in life? (from Robin Williams in the Dead Poet Society). It’s called a Purpose Driven organization when the majority of your employees follow their passions in the work they do as it it does not even feel like work- it’s a labor of joy!

5. Finally, if you want to boil down what I have witnessed as the most significant attributes of great leadership in a 30 year career at GE, it’s the leaders who really HAVE it where…

H – Humility – they don’t think less of themselves, they just think of themselves less

A– Authenticity – being comfortable in your own skin and really caring about people as Maya Angelou said “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”.

V – Vulnerability-where you can show that you are real and make mistakes and learn form them and that the pursuit for perfection all the time is not sustainable. I was once told “Don’t let the pursuit of perfection prevent you form doing something valuable thats already good enough”.

E– Empathetic- truly putting yourself in the mocassins of another person to understand their point of view, learn what they are really going through and seek deeper insight on what they are asking for to be successful.

Overall the participants shared that they really appreciated the learnings and the courage it took to do this in the middle of treatment. I’m so glad I did it as it was very therapeutic for me and it’s a great feeling to help smart people get smarter.

After all “It’s not how smart you are, it’s how you are smart!”

Have a great day! Bob