The Idea:   Are you ready for the future of leadership in our industry?

There are over 58,000 books sold on Amazon with the word “Leadership” in their title. With so much literature available why is leadership so misunderstood?

I recently moderated The Future Leaders Summit in Chicago with a special group of innovators, transformers, and disruptors in the world of consumer brands, retailers and entrepreneurs.  The group gave us one major takeaway: leadership has very little to do with technique and everything to do with individuality, transparency, and originality.

The most effective leaders are multipliers who develop other new leaders.   They embrace mentorship and they develop talent diligently.  They are present and are growing in their own emotional intelligence.  

Perhaps there are 58,000 books on Amazon because there are 58,000 accounts of individuality as it relates to leading a team.  Everyone has their story, and seven ideas from the event say that’s what it’s all about.

    1. Story:   According to Bill George, Harvard professor and former Medtronic CEO, “Leadership is not about traits, it is about your life story.” Leadership is about understanding other’s story so you can help them thrive.  Walmart’s Michelle Gloeckler shared “everything I ever learned about leadership, I initially learned as a young waitress.”   It’s about serving others.  
    2. Emotional Intelligence:  One’s EQ or Emotional Intelligence matters more than IQ.  There is a direct relationship between how you show up and your ability to manage your own emotions and influence positively influence others. If you cannot manage your own emotions, you can’t influence others.  The best leaders are self-aware and encourage honest assessment. 
    3. Purpose-driven:    Leaders that are led by a compelling purpose attract and retain the best talent.  SoapBox’s CEO David Simnick shared with the audience that today’s consumer mantra is “Don’t tell me, show me, and prove to me how much you care.”  All of us want to be involved with something bigger than ourselves.  
    4. Courage:  In his journey, Massage Envy’s CEO Joe Magnacca has embraced risk.  He shared “In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take.  Be a courageous risk taker and be willing to fail and pick yourself up quickly.”  Be a leader who creates an atmosphere where staff can comfortably challenge each other –and a place where trust flourishes.  “In a disruptive world, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.”  
    5. Transformational Mindset:  All of us occasionally struggle with stagnation, but the goal is to embrace a transformational mindset.  This entrepreneurial philosophy encourages being present, showing empathy, and giving and accepting “real time” feedback.   Transformational leaders are skilled at recovering from failure. 
    6. Mentoring:   McKesson’s Chris Dimos reminded us that “who do you mentor?” requires an answer for leadership to flourish. “The best leaders are capable of mentoring others, and are, themselves, coachable.  And the best mentors have mastered non-directive questioning and coaching.”   They build trusting relationships and are astute at understanding individual motives.


  • What’s Your “Why?”  What do you stand for and who do you stand with? 59 percent of Americans say a company’s corporate social responsibility activities impact their purchase decisions. And it certainly influences whether they join a company.   What you stand for as an organization (and as a leader) is as essential as the job description and the potential for longer term growth.  To lead in the future, you must understand your “why?”.


Family Dollar’s Jason Reiser said, “Leaders cannot allow data to replace judgment; and the very best stay involved in the details.”  Reiser went further, “this is a PEOPLE business, and your own enthusiasm and optimism matters in setting a cultural tone.”

To effectively lead others, you must be comfortable walking behind them.  

Are you a multiplier and are you comfortable allowing others to lead?