Drama or Leadership: It’s a Choice

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  We are all wired for drama. What is optional in your life is leadership. Leadership development takes an intentional choice and every person has to make it for themselves.

By Alexandra Ross (Senior Counsel, Paragon Legal)

Real women (including the fabulous Mary J. Blige) want to avoid drama and regain the power to make competent decisions. A new book by Charlie Sheppard, an internationally recognized leader in executive and team development, provides a practical guide for eliminating drama in your work and personal life. The concepts in the book and the accompanying survey help identify blind spots in your perception and begin to create drama-free zones in your organization and your life. Charlie is a highly engaging speaker and is in constant demand for his Leadership is a Choice® keynote. He is also a professor at Hult International Business School and makes his home in the San Francisco Bay Area.

You’ve been working in the area of leadership training and management consulting for many years. What prompted the writing of the book?

To see if I could take what is successful about our seminars and translate that kind of experience to book form. Our seminars are very experiential and I believe I created that kind of expereince with the book.

What is the fundamental message of the book? Are your concepts based on any particular methodology?

There are hundreds of courses out in the market place on leadership and most of them cover the basics well. Most leadership training, in telling you what it is, contrasts with the concept of leadership with management. The question I asked was, “how come these programs are so ineffective in creating new leaders or inspiring a shift in thinking?” What I realized is that management is complementary to leadership, so contrasting the two makes learning about leadership more difficult to understand. As someone who has researched leadership and its associated behaviors for over 20 years, I have discovered that you can not learn leadership without first understanding its opposite—drama. Management is not the opposite of leadership, but drama is.

The title of your book is “Save your Drama for your Mama.” Why is it so important to eliminate drama?

All human beings are born into an environment of dependency. Of all the species on the planet we are most dependent upon our parents. We couldn’t survive without them. When you were born you were completely dependent upon your parents or caregiver for your survival. No other species is reliant or dependent upon external resources for as long as a human child. We learn how to be dependent before we learn how to speak. It’s in our deep long term memory. This early learning provides the framework for how and why dependency can continue later in life. This dependency directly leads to the drama patterns. Drama as an outcome will reduce the energy available to you in your life.

We are all wired for drama … it comes as standard equipment with every human being. What is optional in your life is leadership. Leadership development takes an intentional choice and every person has to make it for themselves. The leadership model that we have pioneered first helps participants move away from drama as they choose more leadership in their life. To be a leader you first have to eliminate drama.

The book includes a survey designed to identify an individual’s leadership potential as well as a feedback tool that invites comments from peers. What is the information from the survey and the feedback tool intended to prompt in the user?

Our individual leadership or drama multi-rater survey provides two 21 page reports with feedback for individuals looking to develop their Leadership competency. Our methods will help you create a no-drama zone in your life, your team, and your organization. Additionally, we will help you build a leadership culture. When everyone adopts personal responsibly for creating a leadership culture, you will create a powerful force for personal and organizational success. A high performance culture is a culture where leadership is being demonstrated at every level and drama is not allowed to exist. It is a culture where people want to join and they want to perform well. As your leadership grows and your drama lessens, your leadership to drama ratio improves. With this improvement the number of people who fit this description of a high performance culture increases, and so too does the degree that your culture directly and positively impacts your business results.

Woman 2.0 is directed at aspiring and current women innovators in technology. How can the leadership techniques in your book inspire and educate those of us working in technology and innovation?

Our clients are Genentech and Yahoo. We develop leaders all around the world. Some of the best examples of leadership can be found in examples of women leaders. The book talks about individuals like Kara Goldin (Hint water) Marissa Meyer (Yahoo) And we review how to innovate. We explain how top innovators think. We get to the neuroscience of innovation.

Is the application of these concepts different for women as opposed to men?

This book was written for those that have a human capability. Young, old, male female, the concepts and ideas are universally applied.

Women 2.0 readers: How are you trying to eliminate drama from life and business?

About the guest blogger: Alexandra Ross is Senior Counsel at Paragon Legal, working onsite at Autodesk, Inc. Previously, she managed privacy law and compliance as Associate General Counsel for Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.  She is a certified information privacy professional and practices ecommerce and privacy law.  Photo credit: RelaxingMusic via Flickr