JUST RELEASED: The Engaging Leader

I am delighted to announce the release of my new series of leadership development tutorials:

The Engaging Leader: Be the Person They’d Want to Follow

The Engaging Leader








The Engaging Leader prepares and prompts you to step into five essential roles of a leader, and be the person others would want to follow. These roles are:

  • Visionary and Voice for Tomorrow
  • Conscience of the Culture
  • Champion of Innovation and Change
  • Coach of Our Talent
  • Trusted Partner and Collaborator

The Engaging Leader is a series of tutorials that helps you deepen your understanding and practice of these five essential roles. Your success as a leader — indeed, the success of the people you lead — requires you to take on the right role at the right time and express yourself and guide the members of your group in ways that build and fortify the bonds that inspire them to follow your lead. For each one of these essential roles, The Engaging Leader offers an interactive framework and practical tools that help you strengthen those bonds and emerge a more engaging leader at work and in your community.

You will apply the frameworks and tools to help you diagnose, plan, communicate, share decision-making and distribute ownership with your partners, staff and followers, and strengthen your capacity to engage their enthusiasm to participate, serve, act and persevere so that together you can make meaningful contributions at work, at home and in your communities.

The five tutorials in The Engaging Leader are designed both for your own individual use as you hone your personal and professional leadership skills and for use by an experienced facilitator or teacher as curriculum material in a professional development seminar or class. A facilitator or teacher can expect to guide a group of participants or students through the tutorials and derive meaningful, applicable benefits by investing seven hours in any one tutorial.

The Engaging Leader arrives on the two-year anniversary of the release of its companion piece The Citizen Leader: Be the Person You’d Want to Follow. This first book is a thought-provoking guide to help you develop and deepen your moral compass — that is, explore and respond to the questions: Who am I? and How do I want to be in the world? The Citizen Leader challenges you to be authentic and courageous so you can say with conviction: I am a person I’d want to follow, and then to extend yourself to make meaningful contributions at work or in your community.

Peter Alduino welcomes your inquiries and your invitation to have him lead a seminar or speak to you and your group on the themes of The Engaging Leader and The Citizen Leader.

Contact Peter Alduino by clicking here.

For more about The Engaging Leader

For more about The Citizen Leader

For more about Peter Alduino

Action Reveals Values: Starbuck’s CEO Schultz Stands Up for the Company’s Value of “Embracing Diversity” (Video)

At Starbucks’ annual shareholders meeting in Seattle, Wash. last Wednesday, CEO Howard Schultz told off an investor who tried to argue that the company’s support for same-gender marriage is bad for business.

The shareholder Tom Strobhar, founder of an anti-gay marriage group, claimed that as a result of the National Organization for Marriage’s boycott of the coffee company, “in the first full quarter after this boycott was announced, our sales and our earnings — shall we say politely — were a bit disappointing.”

Watch as Schultz replies bluntly that Starbucks’s endorsement of marriage equality is not about making money, but about the principle of embracing diversity. Then, he goes on to disabuse the shareholder of the claim that financial returns were disappointing.

Schultz finishes, “if you feel, respectfully, that you can get a higher return than the 38 percent you got last year, it’s a free country. You can sell your shares of Starbucks and buy shares in another company. Thank you very much,” Schultz said, to applause from the audience.


The FLIP Side of Leadership…and the Antidote

For every leadership development seminar I conduct, I ask each participant to gather some objective data on the topic of leadership ahead of time. Specifically, I ask each person to talk with a few of their friends, family, students, coworkers or acquaintances about leadership in the days before the seminar, and find out what they look for in someone whose lead they would willingly follow. The operative word here, I stress to my participants, is “willingly.”[1] Willingly means that we exercise our free will. Willingly means that we are not coerced, cajoled or backed into a corner to have to follow. Instead, we follow by personal choice, without reluctance, because we are favorably disposed to do so.

More often than not, the soon-to-be participants find, to their surprise, that the people they talk to respond by saying that they look for a similar set of qualities in their own leaders. Among the qualities they mention most often, and what the people say those qualities really mean, are the following:

Honestytruthful in both word and deed

Integrity: walks the talk, consistently; role-models behavior; holds himself or herself accountable

Vision: guides, shows the way; communicates objectives and goals

Competence: knows the business

Courage: adheres to his or her convictionsshows strength of character

Inspires: demonstrates personal passion; motivates others

Respects: treats others with fairness; remains open to others’ ideas

Listens: values others’ input and ideas; engages in two-way communication

Commits to helping others succees: strives to know the total person; develops the talent of others

Distributes ownership…and holds others accountable

Recognizes and celebrates others’ accomplishments: expresses gratitude; gives credit where credit is due, publicly

All of these are admirable qualities. All are typical qualities of exemplary leaders, as cited by scores of prominent practitioners, observers, researchers, writers and teachers in the leadership field. I am confident that, among these, you will find qualities that figure prominently in attracting and engaging your own enthusiasm and commitment to willingly follow the lead of someone else.

Unheralded scores of men and women honor the people they lead by regularly holding themselves accountable for behaving and acting in ways that reflect these qualities. To these people, we owe a debt of gratitude for shaping cultures of ethics, civility and service, as well as for creating great places to work and live. 

When my seminar participants ask colleagues about the qualities they value, they seldom report finding too many of these qualities in leaders or in their cultures. Far more often, participants report hearing people complain of a scarcity of these qualities among many who don the robes of leader, but who discredit the role by their actions. From my vantage point as one who often hears from those on the receiving end of leadership, their day to day experience differs radically from the ideals that they honor or hope for — is far removed, in fact, from the qualities that would engage their enthusiasm to willingly follow. In their place, I hear of a bleak set of leadership qualities being practiced by many who call themselves leader, but whose actions prove otherwise. Their actions show them to be but pretenders[2] who harm the people they lead by all too frequently choosing to disregard the qualities their people respect and require. Instead, they perpetrate a set of behaviors I’ve come to call the FLIP side of leadership.

FLIP is an inverted (or, worse, distorted) form of leadership whose adherents find it acceptable to:

F – Fearmonger, Fabricate claims and Falsify the record

L – Limit access to information or Lie about the facts

I –  Insult our intelligence, Impugn the integrity of their detractors, if not Intimidate them

P – Pursue Power, Profit, Prestige, Position, Personal or Professional Gain, Publicity or Pleasure, with callous disregard for principle or the interests of the community and the common good

A casual reading of the news and blogs in this first decade of the 21st century offers myriad stories of women and men in every office of leadership — be it in our business communities, religious communities, school systems, or in our national, state and local governments, or in our not-for-profit organizations — whose actions and behaviors illustrate the FLIP side of leadership. Their motivations have more to do with exerting control than with inspiring us to contribute; more to do with getting compliance than with engaging our desire or our willingness to commit; more to do with serving the immediate interests of a few than with the larger interests of the community they claim to lead. They might wear the label “leader”; they might hold the title “leader”; but they are not leaders. Rather, they are “handlers” posing as leaders. They do little to engage our enthusiasm or inspire us to willingly follow. Instead, they too often manage and manipulate the people under their cloak to follow out of fear, self-interest or self-preservation.

I have written The Citizen Leader partially in response to this practice.

I fundamentally believe that we are all co-creators of the world in which we live and work. Our families, our schools, our places of work, our places of worship, our neighborhoods and towns — all these constitute the communities that make up our world. Through our daily behaviors, words, actions and choices, we contribute to the character of those communities, and shape the world in which we live and work, for ourselves, for our families, for our friends, for our colleagues, for our coworkers and for our fellow citizens.

I fundamentally believe that if we wish to avoid living under the FLIP side of leadership, then we must assume personal responsibility to check it, right it, reverse it. I fundamentally believe that if I myself do little or nothing to arrest this FLIP dynamic, I am condoning both its growth and the culture it produces. I own that while I lack the power to change the world, I do have the power to shape my world. And I own that not to take that seriously, not to act as if I am a co-creator of our collective reality, is an act of surrender and perhaps an abdication of responsibility. And so, I try to be mindful of the culture I want to live in as I age, and I try to match my behaviors and actions to that culture.

It’s up to us. We are the ones we are waiting for. We are the ones who can shape, change and transform our world by behaving and speaking in ways that offer an antidote to the FLIP side of leadership – in ways that will heartily engage the enthusiasm of the people we lead. At the risk of being prescriptive, I offer the following:

Where the handlers would fearmonger, fabricate claims and falsify the record in order to manage and manipulate the people around them, let us forge a shared understanding of what is real and what is not.

Where the handlers would limit access to information and lie about the facts, let us level with one another so that we may all make clear and informed choices.

Where the handlers would insult our intelligence, impugn the integrity of their detractors, or worse, intimidate them, let us inquire into the reasons for disagreement so that we may seek to better understand and better appreciate differing points of view.

Where the handlers would pursue power, profit, prestige or personal gain with callous disregard for the deleterious impact on people, community and culture, let us persevere with adherence to principles that shape a culture of ethics, civility and service.

It’s up to us.


[1] The workshop I refer to here is The Leadership Challenge Workshop, created by leadership researchers and writers Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner. When I ask participants, before the workshop, what they “look for in someone whose lead they would willingly follow,” and when I go on to stress that the operative word is “willingly,” I am conducting an exercise using the “Characteristics of an Admired Leader” questionnaire authored by Kouzes and Posner an instrument they have been using since 1981 to collect data. For more information on the questionnaire and the data collected, see The Leadership Challenge (4th edition), Chapter 2: “Credibility Is the Foundation of Leadership.

[2] One who makes a false or hypocritical show.