Leadership from the Inside Out: Becoming a Leader for Life

Leadership from the Inside Out: Becoming a Leader for Life

by Kevin Cashman


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781523094356
Publisher: Berrett-Koehler Publishers
Publication date: 10/30/2017
Edition description: Revised
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 145,528
Product dimensions: 7.40(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Kevin Cashman is senior partner, CEO and executive development, at Korn Ferry, a global keynote speaker, and the bestselling author of six books, including The Pause Principle.

Read an Excerpt



Leading with Courage, Authenticity, and Awareness

I once heard a poignant story about a priest, who was confronted by a soldier while he was walking down a road in pre-revolutionary Russia. The soldier, using his rifle to block the path of the priest, commanded, "Who are you? Where are you going? Why are you going there?"

Unfazed, the priest calmly replied, "How much do they pay you?"

Somewhat surprised, the soldier responded, "Twenty-five kopecks a month."

The priest paused and, in a deeply thoughtful manner, said, "I have a proposal for you. I'll pay you fifty kopecks each month if you stop me here every day and challenge me to respond to those same three questions."

How many of us have a "soldier" confronting us with life's tough questions, pushing us to pause, to examine, and to develop ourselves more thoroughly? If "character is our fate," as Heraclitus wrote, do we step back on a regular basis to question and affirm ourselves and to reveal our character? As we lead others and ourselves through tough times, do we draw on the inner resources of our character, or do we lose ourselves in the pressures of the situation? Are we relentlessly pushing to a better future but forgetting to be our best selves in the present?


Joe Cavanaugh is founder and CEO ofYouth Frontiers. During one of his powerful character development retreats, Cavanaugh told a moving story about Peter, an elementary school student who suffered burns on 90 percent of his body. Peter's burns were so severe that his mouth had to be propped open so it wouldn't seal shut in the healing process. Splints separated his fingers so his hands wouldn't become webbed. His eyes were kept open so his eyelids wouldn't cut him off from the world permanently.

Even after Peter endured one year of rehabilitation and excruciating pain, his spirit was intact. What was the first thing he did when he could walk? He helped console all the other patients by telling them that they would be all right, that they would get through it. His body may have been horribly burned, but his strength of character was whole.

Eventually, Peter had to begin junior high at a school where no one knew him. Imagine going to a new school at that age and being horribly disfigured. Imagine what the other kids would say and how they would react. On his first day in the cafeteria, everyone avoided him. They looked at him with horror and whispered to one another. Kids got up and moved from tables that were close to him. One student, Laura, had the courage to approach him and to introduce herself. As they talked and ate, she looked into Peter's eyes and sensed the person beneath the scarred surface.

Reading her thoughts, Peter, in his deep, raspy, smoke-damaged voice, said, "Everyone is avoiding me because they don't know me yet. When they come to know me, they'll hang out with me. When they get to know the real me inside, they'll be my friends." Peter was right. His character was so strong that people eventually looked beyond the surface. People loved his spirit and wanted to be his friend.

When I consider Peter's situation, I'm not so sure that I would be able to come through his experience with the same courage. But that's the beauty of Personal Mastery. Peter was challenged to awaken his extraordinary strength and to walk down his particular path. It was his path to mastery — not yours, not mine. Somehow his life had prepared him to walk that path with dignity. Each of us is challenged to master our own unique circumstances, although usually under less dramatic conditions than Peter's. Each of us is being called to lead by authentically connecting our own life experiences, values, and talents to the special circumstances we face.

Our ability to rise to this challenge depends on our understanding of our deepest, most authentic gifts, as well as the courage to use them despite inner and outer voices that may try to dissuade us. As Maya Angelou so wisely expressed, "You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it." Transactive managers strive for single-minded success; transformative leaders extract significant learning from every experience.


Personal Mastery is not a simplistic process of merely affirming our strengths while ignoring our weaknesses. It is, as Carl Jung would explain it, "growth toward wholeness." It is about acknowledging our talents and strengths while facing the underdeveloped, hidden, or shadow sides of ourselves. It is about honestly facing and reconciling all facets of self. Personal Mastery involves appreciating the rich mixture of our life experience. Peter Senge, in The Fifth Discipline, wrote, "People with a high level of Personal Mastery are acutely aware of their ignorance, their incompetence, their growth areas, and they are deeply self-confident. Paradoxical? Only for those who do not see the journey is the reward."

Research originally conducted by Lominger International, now a Korn Ferry company, indicates that defensiveness, arrogance, overdependence on a single skill, key skill deficiencies, lack of composure, and unwillingness to adapt to differences are among the "top ten career stallers and stoppers." A research study by Kenneth Brousseau, Gary Hourihan, and others, published in Harvard Business Review, connects the significance of agile growth — an evolving decision-making and leadership style — to leadership and career advancement. This global research on 180,000 managers and executives demonstrated that if people don't develop both strategic and collaborative skills, it is much more challenging to advance.

In a more recent study, researchers David Zes and Dana Landis analyzed 6,977 assessments of managers and executives to identify blind spots and compared the results to the financial data of the 486 publicly traded companies in which the subjects operated. After tracking stock performance over a thirty-month period, Zes and Landis found that organizations with a higher percentage of self-aware leaders (fewest blind spots) had the strongest financial performance. Companies with the least self-aware leaders (most blind spots) had the lowest financial performance. This was a groundbreaking study, the first to correlate self-awareness with financial performance. Despite the research, some leaders still relegate self-awareness to backseat status, regarding it as a soft skill, not critical to business performance. Growing evidence like this makes it difficult to cast self-awareness aside. Self-aware leaders have the strong, authentic foundation on which to build sustainable performance.


Of all the principles supporting sustainable leadership, authenticity is one of the most important. It also can be one of the most challenging. Most people never realize that it's an area of their lives that needs attention. In more than three decades of interacting with thousands of leaders, I've yet to meet an executive for coaching who comes to me lamenting, "I'm having real trouble being authentic." If authenticity is so important, why don't we recognize it as an issue within ourselves? The answer is both simple and profound: we are always authentic to our present state of development. We all behave in perfect alignment with our current level of emotional, psychological, and spiritual evolution. All our actions and relationships, as well as the quality and power of our leadership, accurately express the person we have become. Therefore, we conclude that we are "authentic," because we are doing the best we can with the information, experience, competencies, and traits that we have at this time.

There is a big catch, however. While we are authentic to our current state of development, we are inauthentic to our potential state of development. As Shakespeare wrote so eloquently in Hamlet, "We know what we are, but know not what we may be." As humans and as leaders, we have an infinite ability to grow, to be, and to become. Our horizons are unlimited. If there is an end point to growing in self-awareness and authenticity, I certainly have not seen it.

To deepen authenticity — to nourish leadership from the inside out — takes time, attention, and courage. In today's world, the amount of distraction and busyness we all experience keeps us from undertaking the inward journey and engaging in the quiet reflection required to become more authentic human beings. By middle life, many of us are accomplished fugitives from ourselves. In Self-Renewal: The Individual and the Innovative Society, John Gardner writes:

Human beings have always employed an enormous variety of clever devices for running away from themselves. We can keep ourselves so busy, fill our lives with so many diversions, stuff our heads with so much knowledge, involve ourselves with so many people and cover so much ground that we never have time to probe the fearful and wonderful world within.

To courageously penetrate the commotion and distraction of our lives, to explore the depths of ourselves, is the prerequisite for self-awareness and authenticity. So what is authenticity? Based on our experience assessing and coaching thousands of leaders over the years, we define authenticity as the continuous process of building self-awareness of our whole person, as well as being transparent with others about our whole person — both strengths and limitations. This heightened self-awareness allows us to predict our likely responses to a variety of situations. As a result of this awareness, more often than not, the authentic person's beliefs, values, principles, and behaviors tend to line up. Commonly referred to as "walking the talk," authenticity also means embodying your talk at a very deep level.

Authenticity is so much more than simply being true to ourselves; it also requires being true to others. Authenticity carries a much bigger responsibility to speak up, to light up the darkness, and to "shake the spiritual tree," as Ken Wilber puts it. "You must let the radical realization rumble through your veins and rattle those around you," Wilber elaborates. Authenticity is rarely complacent. It is clear about what is important and what needs to change. It is not attracted to convention but is more compelled by courageous conviction. With genuine authenticity, we shake ourselves free from the restrictions of the past and courageously express alternative futures.

Another prominent feature of highly authentic individuals is openness. Whether they come to authenticity naturally or work hard to attain it, the most real, genuine, sincere leaders tend to have the courage to be open about both their capabilities and their vulnerabilities. They have an inner openness about their strengths as well as their limitations. They know who they are and don't apologize for their capabilities. They also have an outer openness about their whole selves. They try neither to cover up their weaknesses nor to "hide their light under a bushel." They have managed to avoid the pitfall that Malcolm Forbes described: "Too many people overvalue what they are not and undervalue what they are." Self-compassion — being open and receptive to our vulnerabilities — is an important aspect of authenticity. By acknowledging our own vulnerabilities and appreciating our whole selves, we can truly be compassionate to others. As David Whyte, poet and author of The Heart Aroused, beautifully wrote, "We need to learn to love that part of ourselves that limps."

In Good to Great, Jim Collins explains that his research identified the interesting duality in "Level 5 leaders," who are both modest and willful, humble and fearless, vulnerable and strong, interpersonally connected and focused — in short, leaders who "had grown toward wholeness." Their "compelling modesty," as Collins puts it — their authenticity, as we would term it — draws people to come together to achieve.

Authentic people — people on the path to Personal Mastery — have dual awareness of their strengths and vulnerabilities. This more complete self-awareness allows them to focus on the team, organization, and marketplaces — not on themselves. Personal Mastery allows us to transcend our egos and move into authentic service and authentic contribution. As Collins elaborates, "Level 5 leaders channel their ego away from themselves and into the larger goal of building a great company. It's not that Level 5 leaders have no ego or self-interest. Indeed they are incredibly ambitious, but their ambition is first and foremost for the contribution, not for themselves." Level 5 leaders — authentic leaders — see their purpose beyond their limited selves as passionate instruments of service and contribution. As the late David McClelland elucidated in The Achieving Society, effective leaders use their Socialized Power in service to a more purpose-driven achievement motive. Authentic leaders harness their gifts to serve something greater.

In Daniel Goleman's extensive research on emotional intelligence in the workplace, Goleman cites self-awareness —"attention to one's own experience," or mindfulness — as the primary competence in his framework for managing ourselves, which is a prerequisite for managing others. In Primal Leadership: Learning to Lead with Emotional Intelligence, Goleman and his coauthors, Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee, assert, "A leader's self-awareness and ability to accurately perceive his performance is as important as the feedback he receives from others." The flow of crucial information to develop our courageous authenticity comes from the inside out and from the outside in.

While most leadership research does not suggest authoritarian leadership approaches as ideal in what Thomas Friedman has coined as today's "flat" world, I have seen some authoritarian leaders with substantial authenticity outperform leaders who strove to be collaborative, yet lacked authenticity. I've seen leaders low in charisma and polish get in front of a group and stumble around a bit, but their personal authenticity and substance were so tangibly established that they inspired the group members and moved them to a new level of excellence. Could such leaders benefit from working on their leadership approaches? Certainly. But how much would it really matter, compared with their trust-inspiring authenticity? "The individual who does not embody her messages will eventually be found out," warns Howard Gardner in Leading Minds. "Even the inarticulate individual who leads the exemplary life may eventually come to be appreciated."


Challenges to our authenticity come in small and big moments. Every day, possibly in every leadership moment, our authenticity is tested. Do we put a little spin on an explanation to make it look better? Do we risk sharing an emotional, inspiring story? Do we slow down and show care and concern in the heat of performance? Do we reveal a vulnerability to build trust and connection? Do we take advantage of people or situations because we can? Small but significant tests of authenticity and courage await us from moment to moment.

Sometimes, truly big moments test and reveal our authenticity and character. Steve Reinemund was Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo during a period of extraordinary growth. Earnings grew 90 percent. But the focus of the business was on more than results; they constantly preached "Winning the Right Way." This mantra resonated deeply in the culture.

Recently, Steve reflected on this time and shared with me an interesting story:

One day, a mysterious envelope arrived at the Pepsi headquarters, marked for one of our key executives. His administrative assistant opened it and was surprised to find that it was filled with trade secrets from a prominent competitor. Someone had anonymously sent them. Within an hour, the administrative assistant had packed up the envelope with its contents and had delivered it back to our competitor's headquarters. Fortunately, she knew the right thing to do. Yes, it would have been highly advantageous for us to possess those documents. But it would have been "winning the wrong way." We gave the administrative assistant a Chairman's Award as a demonstration of our pride and gratitude in how well she embodied our company's values.


Excerpted from "Leadership from the Inside Out"
by .
Copyright © 2017 Kevin Cashman.
Excerpted by permission of Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Why a New Edition?
Preface: How to Use This Book…from the Inside Out
Introduction: The Beginning of the Journey
Chapter One: Personal Mastery: Leading with Awareness and Authenticity
Breaking Free of Self-Limiting Patterns
Integrating All of Life’s Experiences into a Meaningful Context
Deepening Authenticity for Sustainable Leadership
Exploring Beliefs
Reflection: Conscious Beliefs
Seven Clues That Bring Shadow Beliefs to Light
Leading with Character…Leading by Coping
Qualities of Character and Coping
Reflection: Character and Coping
Understanding Our Owner’s Manual
Reflection: Clarifying Our Strengths and Growth Areas
Eight Points for Personal Mastery
Leadership Growth Plan
Leadership Growth Plan: Example
Chapter Two: Purpose Mastery: Leading On-Purpose
Discovering the Sweet Spot
Identifying Core Talents
Reflection: Core Talents
Recognizing Core Values
Reflection: Core Values
Revealing Core Purpose
“Moving Upstairs” to Our Purpose
Diving Beneath the Surface to Our Purpose
Purpose Is Bigger and Deeper Than Our Goals
Connecting the Inner with the Outer: Purpose, Authenticity, and Congruence
Unfolding the Defining Thread of Purpose
Six Thousand Days
Reflection: Core Purpose
Eight Points for Purpose Mastery
Leadership Growth Plan
Chapter Three: Interpersonal Mastery: Leading through Synergy and Service
Two Principle Streams of Leadership Development
Building Relationship Bridges
Balancing Personal Power with Synergy Power and Contribution Power
Reducing the Intention-Perception Gap
Beyond 360° Feedback to 720° Feedback
Intimate Connection of Personal Mastery and Interpersonal Mastery
Opening Up Possibilities
The Potentially Transforming Power of Presence
Moving from Leader to Opener
Trusting and Engaging in Constructive Conflict
Reflection: Building Relationships
Six Points for Authentic Interpersonal Mastery
Leadership Growth Plan
Chapter Four: Change Mastery: Leading with Agility
Uncovering the Learning and Growth Contained in Change
Breaking Old Patterns and Opening Up to Change
Developing Present-Moment Awareness to Deal with Change Effectively
Bridging the Paradox of Immediate Focus and Broad Awareness for Leading during Turbulent Times
Learning to Trust Ourselves Amid Dynamic Change
Leadership Development as Measured by Our Ability to Adapt
Developing the Resilience to Thrive in Change
Change Initiatives Rarely Succeed
Seven Change Mastery Shifts
Reflection: Dealing with Change
Measuring Our Ability to Deal with Change
Eight Points of Awareness for Leading with Agility
Leadership Growth Plan
Chapter Five: Resilience Mastery: Leading with Energy
What Happened to the Life of Leisure
Challenges of Resilience for Executives
Moving from Time and Efficiency to Energy and Resilience
What Healthy, Productive 100-Year Olds Can Teach Leaders
Resilience Is a Dynamic Process
Ten Signs of Resilience
Ten Signs of Lack of Resilience
Nature’s Resilience: Rest and Activity
The Eleven Points of Resilience Mastery
Reflection: Building Energy and Resilience
Leadership Growth Plan
Chapter Six: Being Mastery: Leading with Presence
Personal Journey into Being
Going to Another Level to Resolve Leadership Challenges
Getting Things Done by Non-Doing
The Search for Something More
Don’t Place “Descartes” before “the Source”
Techniques to Unfold Being
Reflection: Exploring the Leader Within
Connecting with Our Inner Self
Being and Executive Presence
Leadership Benefits of Being
Four Points of Awareness for Leading with Presence
Leadership Growth Plan
Chapter Seven: Action Mastery: Leading through Coaching
Merging Three Interrelated Action Mastery Steps
Action Mastery Step One: Building Awareness
Reflection: Building Awareness
Action Mastery Step Two: Building Commitment
Reflection: Building Commitment
Action Mastery Step Three: Building Practice
Reflection: Building Practice
The Art of Coaching Others
Coaching Others to Build Awareness
Building Awareness in Others
Coaching Others to Build Commitment
Coaching Others to Build Practice
Leadership Growth Plan
Parting Thoughts for Your Journey Ahead
Conclusion: The Journey Continues
About the Author
About LeaderSource
About Korn/Ferry International

What People are Saying About This

Gary Burnison

Finding and developing talent will be the keystone to sustaining organizational success in the coming decades. Cashman's classic book gives you the research, the tools, and the know-how to develop, retain, and optimize your key talent in today's hypercompetitive, global marketplace. (Gary Burnison, CEO, Korn/Ferry International)

Michael A. Peel

Today's top talent can spot a phony a mile away. Trust is hard to build and easy to lose. Cashman's resounding message is one of truth and honesty, critical enablers of trust, commitment, and ultimately, great performance. (Michael A. Peel, Executive Vice President, Human Resources and Business Services, General Mills, Inc.)

Warren Bennis

This book has no shelf life. Eternal truths. (Warren Bennis, Distinguished Professor of Business, University of Southern California: author of On Becoming a Leader; and coauthor of Leaders and Judgment)

Daniel Vasella

Leadership from the Inside Out gets to the heart of what we face as global leaders in today's complex world: the ability to have people reach beyond themselves, achieving great results by integrating purpose, knowledge and personal growth. (Daniel Vasella, MD, Chairman and CEO, Novartis AG)

Bill George

In this new edition, Kevin Cashman demonstrates convincingly why authenticity in leadership is essential for effectiveness. His process of developing this leader from within provides readers the road map to transform themselves and their organizations. (Bill George, author of True North: Professor of Management Practice, Harvard Business School: and former Chairman and CEO, Medtronic)

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Leadership from the Inside Out 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book is good if you like philosophic readings. It is too deep to figure out. And there is a problem with e-book. There are some pages/parts are missing. Since I paid for this book (not free!), I expect a complete book.
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Favor More than 1 year ago
Excllent reading
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