The Alchemy of Leadership

Sep 5, 2022. By Lori Brewer Collins


I’ve developed an allergy to leadership books.

For years, I’ve bought most of the lauded titles. I was ready and eager to learn from recognized executive development consultants and coaches, from the studies they had conducted, from the well-educated insights they shared. Not only was I looking to them to help me on my own professional path, but I also wanted resources to recommend to my clients to help them attain their next level of professional effectiveness.

Each new book I picked up promised a fresh perspective and practical take-aways. Invariably, I’ve been disappointed. There have been exceptions, of course. But, for the most part, I find myself reading re-framed, re-worked ideas that I’ve already read in other books at other times. Hence my allergy.

This awareness has brought me fresh insights. First, when it comes to leadership today, there truly is no magic formula to follow. And second, I’ve inadvertently been doing my own research on what works—and what doesn’t—in leadership by talking with amazing leaders who are making their organizations and our world better today.

From what I can tell, these individuals understand the interplay of multiple systems affecting themselves, their teams and their organizations at any given moment in time. Observing and participating in the complexity, they navigate themselves and others through to a place of meaning and effectiveness. They are able to look at situations with enough distance and from enough different perspectives that they can see all the moving parts and skillfully respond, rather than react.

These remarkable individuals demonstrate tremendous character. They humbly acknowledge and appreciate the blind spots that come with their strengths. I see them influencing and shaping power systems in genuinely transformative ways. They redefine what is possible and inspire others to follow.

Not only are they transforming themselves and their organizations, their industries and sectors. They are also transforming our world.

I have learned so much about the alchemy of leadership from talking with these brilliant transforming leaders that I’ve decided to host a podcast.

“Lori on Leadership” will be a series of intimate conversations between me and a roster of transforming leaders. They will come from a variety of industries and sectors, both private and public. Some will be entrepreneurs; others will lead established organizations. Their backgrounds will be as varied as their unique contributions. The red thread of the show—and what they all have in common—is they embody this “transforming leadership”.

By listening to their stories, I trust you will discover that they have done—and continue to do—the hard work of working their “being” as much as on their “doing”. And that, from what I can tell, is what makes all the difference.

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