Leadership is a word that gets thrown around a lot. Most people tend to think of leadership as a character trait. A person either is a leader or they aren’t. In practice, nothing could be further from the truth. Leadership is a learned skill. True, some people have leadership advantages. A winning smile, a commanding voice, an impressive title or schooling, but those attributes pale in comparison to true, practical leadership. A winning smile will only take you so far in business. Empirical leadership is a skill that requires discipline, determination, and diligence. The key to such leadership is trial and error. To become a practical leader, you must be willing to take risks. You must be willing to push boundaries. You must be sensitive to the culture, needs, and wants of those around you. You must know where you are going and have a plan for how to get there. You must be flexible if that plan crumbles—as they often do. You must know what makes you, you (warts and all). You must believe that you can always do better, for yourself and for those around you. You must be curious. You must be bold. You must be balanced. All this probably sounds fanciful, or impossible. Empirical leadership is neither of those things. It’s a journey, difficult and grueling. You must prepare to fail and feel imperfect. There is nothing fanciful about hard work. The good news is that empirical leadership isn’t impossible. It’s the reason you recognize names like Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, and Jeff Bezos. These are leaders worth emulating. But don’t emulate them. In fact remove them from your mind completely. The first lesson of empirical leadership is that every person brings unique attributes, competencies, and experiences to the table. By comparing yourself to the people you admire, you are setting yourself up to feel like a failure. From this point forward, turn a critical eye inwards. The Empirical Leader is a sort of how-to for leadership in the 21st century. It covers the three axes of leadership: social, self, and environment. As you work through each chapter, take the time to consider how the anecdotes, insights, and social psychology apply to you and your specific circumstances. The success of any leader is in their ability to learn from the experience of others and apply them creatively, not in merely following footsteps.