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It’s not about the rush of power. Accordingto Givray, occu-


pying the corner office might make you an executive with for- mal authority, but it doesn’t automaticallymake you a leader.He says that true leaders earn an invitation to lead others, and then successfully deliver on leadership’s promise by makinga mean- ingful and lasting impact on the lives of people and on the suc- cess and long-term vitality of the organizations they serve. His refreshingviews on the nature of leadership have been published in BusinessWeek and Crain’s Chicago Business, and in several business books. PCMAEducation Conference attendees will get to experience


Givray’s “The Passion of Leadership” in San Antonio on Mon- day, June 11, when he takes the stage for the morning general session.Aninteractive session that follows will help participants apply his philosophy to their own roles. He recently spoke to Convene aboutwhy his take on leadership is different, andwhat Education Conference participants can expect from him.


How did you start speaking about leadership? For as longas I can remember, I’ve had an intense interest and fascination around leadership principles and practice, though perhaps it was more unconscious early on. I have always been in awe of the power and impact of great leaders and the profound difference one person can make. As a dedicated student of lead- ership, I have studied, observed, thought about, learned, dis- covered, and practiced various aspects of leadership and management. As a result, I have been developingmyown evolv- ing knowledge, ideas, and principles around leadership meaning and effectiveness. My earliest memories and actual notes of my


“My desire to speak and write [about leadership] comes from my passion for the topic as well as my deep commitment to help grow others to become leaders.”


own ideas date back to the early 1980s. Over the years, I’ve used my thoughts and ideas to teach, coach, and set expectations around performance and outcomes.Up until 2006, I did this pri- marily in the context ofmyposition and role within SmithBucklin and other companies I have worked for the past 30-plus years. In 2006, I was invited to speak on leadership to a client


association’s board of directors. I accepted, knowing that it would require me to organize my ideas and notes in order to deliver a professional, meaningful, and cogent presentation. Since that time, I’ve been invited to speak at dozens of asso- ciation conferences, corporate meetings, and educational forums. I do about 10 to 12 speaking engagements per year purely by word of mouth and invitation. While I truly enjoy and derive great fulfillment from such activities, I am not seek- ing to be a paid speaker, book author, or leadership consult- ant—at least not in the foreseeable future! Instead, my desire to speak and write [about leadership] comes from my pas- sion for the topic as well as my deep commitment to help grow others to become leaders, to the extent that I am invited to


www.pcma.org On_the_Web


To read Henry Givray’s article in BusinessWeek, visit buswk.co/ Convene-Givray.


do so. As importantly, it’s the reaction from those who hear me or read my ideas and thoughts that motivates me to press forward and to do more of it.


Given the plethora of materials on leadership, what is different about your approach? I start with the notion that there are no playbooks that guaran- tee an organization’s long-term success and vitality regardless of inevitable up and down cycles or unpredictable shocks to the general economy or specific industry. But there is one certainty: All of the best strategies, creative ideas, and brilliant game plans cannot succeed or be sustained without strongand effective lead- ership. In fact, leadership is the uniquely consistent and defin- ing force behind great, enduring organizations. Leadership is recession-proof, and the principles of leadership are timeless. By theway,what was true in the past is true today andwill always be—time reveals true leaders and exposes false ones. The concept of leadership, of course, is elusive. But from my


perspective, the core essence of leadership is profoundly uncom- plicated, involving three critical actions. One is visualizing, imag- ininga better future state. It could be somethingmodest—a major improvement in an important process—or it could be transforminga company or even shaping the course of a nation and its people. The second critical action is getting others to join you on the


journey. The third critical action is getting there. Understand- ingthese three actions is pretty easy. But here’s the rub: There are no simple formulas or instruction manuals on how to become a true leader. There are only concepts, principles, and guidelines. That’s why leadership can’t be taught; it must be learned and applied only through a process of personal, active engagement and self-discovery. The other piece is that leadership is not something that is


bestowed upon you. Nor is it something granted to you by virtue of your title, status, money, or power. It is not the same as hav- ing authority. In fact, leadership is invited and can only be given willingly by others based on who you are and what you do, and it is revealed by what you inspire and what you enable. So it’s not for me to say I’m a leader. Others may or may not give me per- mission to lead them. In other words, I have to earn the invita- tion. And ultimately whether Iamin fact a leader will depend on how successful I am in elicitingpositive actions, emotions, and behaviors in others without the promise of reward or the threat of punishment, as well as producing tangible outcomes through others. By the way, I have a very strict definition of what inspi- ration means, and it’s not the same thingas motivation. 


pcmaconvene April 2012


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