Fresh Insights from a Leadership Classic


Kevin Cashman's book on why personal development is essential to exemplary leadership was first published in 1998. Since then, the self-help manual has become a business classic. For this 20th anniversary edition, Cashman, a senior partner at Korn Ferry specializing in CEO and executive development, conducted extensive new research, asking corporate CEOs and company presidents to review his models of leadership and to critique his leadership propositions.

The third edition of Leadership from the Inside Out: Becoming a Leader for Life  (Berrett-Koehler, 2017) features updated content and two new chapters: "Story Mastery" and "Coaching Mastery." It offers a virtual coaching experience that will help you develop as a "whole person" and, thus, as a "whole leader." It also includes tools HR professionals can use to improve themselves, their employees and their organizations.

HR Magazine recently spoke with Cashman.

This book was one of the first to connect personal growth with leadership development. Why is it so important to focus within?

The book is about both leadership from the inside and leadership that serves the outside. It is both inside-out and outside-in. The reason this is so important is that the person and the leader are one. Despite our attempts to separate them, they are the same entity. Impact one and it impacts the other. The book gives you a profound and pragmatic means to grow as a whole person [in order] to grow as a whole leader.

You explore eight areas of personal mastery. Which area do leaders tend to struggle with the most?

Leaders struggle with all eight mastery areas; that's why each one is so important to activate and sustain leadership. However, most leaders and CEOs admit that Resiliency Mastery is the toughest to practice. With 24/7 global schedules, [as well as] nonstop marketplace and shareholder demands, it is tough to not only keep one's energy high but also multiply that energy throughout the enterprise. Resiliency Mastery helps leaders to develop energy-building practices in order to more effectively serve all those we touch.

There is a new chapter in the book about Story Mastery. Why did you include this in the new edition?

Stories are the language of leadership. Stories have the unique capacity to elevate heads and hearts to go beyond what is. Stories are so potent. Great stories can communicate concepts, values, principles, character, learning and vision—all at once!

However, stories are so much more than storytelling. Before we can "tell our story," we first have to comprehend it. Story Mastery takes us on a developmental journey to Know Our Story (self-awareness), Be Our Story (authenticity), Express Our Story (inspiration) and Comprehend the Plot (purpose). Engaging this development process, we strengthen our leadership voice as we find the sweet spot of leadership: deep authenticity of the leader and deep relevance for the listener.

What advice do you have for new or aspiring leaders?

To emphasize service over success. Try not to get too caught up in your own ambition. Be ambitious about learning, collaboration, purpose and service. Find mentors that balance performance and purpose [and] who value people as the real generators of success. Care more about the success of those around you than your own success.

Desda Moss is managing editor of HR Magazine.



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