Writing a book is never easy and that is certainly true for me.
Writing a book is never easy and that is certainly true for me. I have been told repeatedly, “It is time to get your leadership perspective out to a wider audience.” I am grateful for the strong encouragement and support I have received from several people to write what I have entitled, Swing: Elite Leadership for High Performance Teams.
Here are a few excerpts from the book’s introduction.
High performance teams require a special kind of leader. This book is about how such leaders are developed. It is not about the leader, but the team or, more precisely, the leader in service to the team. Leadership begins with you, but it is not about you.
The purpose of this book is to reframe your thinking about leadership from an individual concept to a team experience. Such leadership begins with a virtue-driven person of character with a keen sense of emotional intelligence and is then integrated with the ability to harness the personalities, abilities, and experiences of other people to serve something larger than any single person.
Leadership seeks the ineffable: in rowing it’s called “swing,” that moment when divergent strength achieves the synchronized harmony of high performance. This is that moment when, to quote Aristotle, “a kind of a whole is beyond its parts.” This is how experienced oarsmen describe swing:
Imagine that you are giving 110 percent effort to a task but because your fellow oarsmen are so much in sync that you can’t feel any of their effort in any way that is different from yours. The result is feeling your own effort magnified by eight. The boat is moving powerfully but you can’t differentiate between your effort and the effort of your teammates. The feeling is of power so much more than your own and it is amazing.
Swing is the goal of all high-performance teams—whether in a rowing shell, a submarine, or an organization. This book is about developing leadership in service to swing. Swing is different from winning. Swing is the experience of pure teamwork realized while enduring the extremities of individual pain.
It is apparent to all observers of contemporary society that we have a crisis of virtuous, emotionally healthy leadership in service to the greater good. Prevarication, self-serving spin, verbal coarseness, and failure to assume responsibility, when not overt scandal, are too commonly the public traits of our leadership class. This touches the government, military, academy, business, and yes, even the church.
My life is dedicated to raise up a new generation of special forces in humane leadership for the greater good.
It is my conviction and experience that such elite leadership can be developed. I have witnessed the power of the Severn Leadership Group as it strengthens organizations, governments, and institutions of global importance with virtuous, emotionally healthy selfless leaders that have completed our Fellows program.
Reading this book will not produce these leaders, but it can serve as an onramp for a journey in preparation, instruction, mentorship, and implementation. To begin, there are certain attitudes that one must adopt. There is no personal transformation in a leader without a high degree of self-awareness. One must acknowledge the need to start on such a journey. In addition, one must strive to embody certain behaviors.
True leadership is not based on values but virtues. It is not about matters of your own choosing, some form of value clarification, but rather aligning yourself to and embodying those enduring transcendent virtues that are rooted in the structures of reality. This includes developing a high level of emotional intelligence.
Leadership is an art, not a science because its subject is people and, more specifically, people functioning as a team. It is about being held accountable in practice to those virtues within the push and pull of everyday life. Clearly, there is no such thing as abstract accountability.
The mark of a leader is only seen in application within an actual organization or a given team. It is not something that can be learned from a book or in a classroom. Its measure is actual reality with people under pressure. The combination of attitude, attributes, accountability, and application serve as the grist mill for the transformation of a difference making leader.
The bottom line: Leadership begins with you but is not about you.
It is about developing teams that seek the elusive trait of “Swing” and in so doing fulfill their purpose/goal with excellence.
You can purchase your copy of Swing: Elite Leadership for High Performance Teams from Amazon today! Proceeds are reinvested into developing a new network of courageous leaders for America!