Leading is difficult, and anyone who has been in a position of authority or influence for very long grapples with it. Renowned speaker, sought-after leadership consultant, author and longtime president of Catalyst Brad Lomenick knows this first-hand. Upon experiencing his own leadership crisis and taking a much-needed break, he cleared his mind with a leadership “reboot” and determined that effective leadership, the type that enables one to truly become a change agent in the modern world, is more than hard work; it is habitual work. It is worked out every day in the tasks we complete, the ways we approach our work, and the rhythms we nurture in our lives. It hangs on the hooks of the patterns we create, not just the success we may stumble upon. H3 Leadership is an application-driven, practical leadership resource guide that provides much-needed guidance on how to run the leadership race well. Based on his own experience and the gathered insights of America’s most respected leaders from wide ranging fields, H3 Leadership offers 20 key leadership habits that all great leaders have in common, that will teach you to be a better, stronger and more effective leader.
I’m excited to let you in on a conversation with Brad about this new book, H3 Leadership: Be Humble. Stay Hungry. Always Hustle.
The 20 Habits all Great Leaders Have in Common. There’s some great stuff here so make sure you stay till the end. Without further ado, Here’s Brad Lomenick:
Q. Give us a quick overview of the book.
H3 Leadership is an application driven, practical leadership playbook that provides a proven process and much needed guidance on how to not only run, but finish well in the leadership race. Readers of this highly practical book will find it chock-full of easy-to-incorporate tips for catalytic leadership and ready to install strategies for living out the transformational habits of a leader.
Breaking down the “what” and “how daily leadership habits and routines that will awaken and transform the way you lead, H3 Leadership is a strategic guide and roadmap that uncovers and clearly defines the 20 key habits that will build your core leadership framework and establish a clear path to long-term sustainable influence. These 20 key Habits are not grand gestures of power, but simple practices that can easily be implemented into everyday life. 20 Key habits all great leaders have in common and essential to all effective leaders.
Based on over a decade of work with Catalyst and the gathered insights of some of America’s most respected leaders from wide ranging fields, H3 Leadership offers 20 key leadership habits that will teach and train you to be a better, stronger and ultimately a more effective leader. A “how to put your leadership into practice” book focused on the habits a leader must form to lead now, and lead well.
In this game changing transformative book, Brad delivers fresh and compelling leadership advice, through his vulnerability and personal counsel from years of personal and professional ups and downs. This book accomplishes the rare feat of outlining leadership habits that are equally challenging while also being highly accessible to the budding executive, young entrepreneur, or established leader.
True leadership can be complex. I’m trying to keep it simple with the three transformational habits of leadership: be humble, stay hungry, always hustle. These powerful words describe the leader who is willing to work hard, get it done, and make sure it’s not about him or her; the leader who knows that influence is about developing the right habits for success.
Nearly half the actions leaders take every day aren’t choices—they’re habits. That’s why great leaders are intentional about what habits they develop and why. My goal is to show the path to long-term sustainable influence through these three key leadership building blocks.
Leadership is hard work, so leadership must be habitual work.
Q. The book covers so much territory. How would you describe it?
H3 Leadership is my attempt to make sense out of the three big-picture characteristics I’ve discovered are most important to succeeding as a leader: humble, hungry, and hustle. The book really unpacks these 3 key pillars of leadership, and practically provides the 20 key Habits that all great leaders have in common.
Leading is difficult and anyone who has been in a position of authority or influence for very long grapples with it. I know this first hand. I experienced my own leadership crisis back in 2013. Sitting at lunch with a close friend, he challenged me on my own leadership, and I knew I needed a restart. I was at a critical point and needed a break. My leadership was stale and needed to be re-ignited and re-established. So I took a break from Catalyst, the organization I’d led for over a decade. It was an incredible period of renewal and focus for me. I pinpointed all of the habits found in the book in a frenzy of inspiration at the end of that sabbatical. I’d had time to reflect on who I was as a leader and to consider all of the incredible leaders with whom I’ve worked over the years. I’d also had time to think about what humble, hungry, and hustle really look like––about how you live those ideas out through habits.
In many ways, this book was birthed out of my own personal leadership “reboot.” And from that leadership mile marker I was reminded and re-enforced by the 20 key habits that must be put into place. I had to return to what I knew as a leader. The 3 H’s of Leadership- Humble, Hungry and Hustle. These would be the foundational building blocks for re-igniting my leadership and putting some key habits back in place. The 20 key habits that re-established my core leadership foundation and will serve as my own personal leadership playbook for the next 30 years of my career life, the second half of my own leadership journey, providing vision and passion and a re-focused lens for being a change maker.
I returned to the understanding that effective leadership – the type that enables one to truly become a change agent in the modern world, is ultimately worked out every day in the tasks we complete, the ways we approach our work, and the rhythm we nurture in our lives. It hangs on the hooks of the patterns we create, not just the success we may stumble upon.
H3 Leadership details how to develop the habits leaders need to thrive. It also traces my own wins and failures as a leader. It’s a very personal book. I’m sharing many times from my own failures in my personal journey. The book is a combination of roadmap, advice, and honest anecdotes from someone who’s been in the trenches.
In a culture craving authenticity, my goal is to provide a practical leadership guide delivered in truth and transparency.
Leadership is hard work, so it must be habitual work. You have to create habits in your leadership and around your leadership style. And because it’s difficult, we need to do something about it. So H3 is my attempt to make leadership more attainable, retainable, and sustainable over time.
Consequently, I almost titled the book “The Hard Work of Leadership.” Maybe “leadership is hard, so let’s do something about it!”
Q. What is your goal with the book?
My hope is that H3 Leadership will serve as a leadership habits “manifesto.” As soon as you create habits, you’ll see these principles start to show up in your leadership on a day-to-day basis. It’s one thing to talk about it and know about it, but it’s another thing to put a process in place and go do it- which is H3 Leadership. One must be intentional to see something change. This is a process book.
I want H3 Leadership to be your daily playbook of influence, leadership and impact. The practical guide to apply leadership habits that will sustain your leadership over time and help you not only lead well, but also lead now, and ultimately finish well. Making things happen and getting things done is possible because of leadership habits put in place that will sustain your leadership over time.
So often, leaders begin with strength but don’t finish as strong because we lose momentum. Habits put discipline in place- daily discipline and a system that hopefully is second nature like brushing your teeth.
Q. How is this book different than your first book, The Catalyst Leader?
My first book, The Catalyst Leader, was a big picture, destination book providing essentials for leadership for the next 30 years. A foundation book you might say. If you think of it in terms of an organization, The Catalyst Leader was the corporate and staff handbook. H3 Leadership is more of a playbook of discipline that will help get you to the finish line. A practical application, daily practice, process, routine and “on the journey” book that can and should immediately transform the way you lead. What leadership looks like on a day-to-day basis. The organization playbook, daily map and gameplan focused on daily practice and discipline that will make your leadership come alive.
The Catalyst Leader provided the key essentials and H3 Leadership provides the key habits. Essentials are what you become, and habits are how you become the leader you desire to be.
H3 describes the “ready” leadership position. I played basketball growing up, and I remember many coaches talking about the ready position in basketball. The posture from which you can dribble, pass, or shoot. I believe that H3 Leadership describes the ready leadership position — the triple threat posture of a properly prepared leader:
– Humble is internal leadership. Hearts.
– Hungry is external leadership. Head.
– Hustle is expression and extension leadership. Hands.
The phrase “humble, hungry, hustle” is my life and leadership mantra. If he had to describe his leadership style in 3 words, these would be it. So much of what I have worked for and want to see in the next generation is a combination of these three transformational habits. Humble, hungry and hustle describes the leader who realizes it’s not about them, is willing to work hard, and ultimately get it done. H3 Leaders know that influence is about developing the right habits for success.
H3 is practical. In the trenches, a bit chaotic, organic and dirty handed leadership. The dirt under your fingernails kind of leadership learned from digging the ditch, focused on the discipline, process, practice and journey of becoming a better leader. The everyday habits, not necessarily the sexy sizzle. The broccoli and vegetables, not necessarily the steak. Not always pretty but hopefully constantly practical. I’ve tried to be practical at every level. Combining experience and wisdom and practical from the trenches. From my story and the story of others. Put your hardhat on and let’s get to work!
Q. So why a leadership habits book?
Because it’s very easy for us to flame out. We start strong as leaders, but many times don’t finish strong. And lose momentum and then not finish well. This is why leadership habits are so important. Habits will allow you to sustain and finish well. Habits put discipline in place- daily discipline and a system that hopefully is second nature like brushing your teeth.
You will never change your life and truly become a change maker until you change your habits. Until you change your normal, daily routine. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine. The habits you’ve formed and continue to form. What becomes second hand and internal. Leadership comes down to the practical, the everyday, the blocking and tackling. The components that are not sexy to talk about or don’t wow a crowd at the latest leadership conference or inspirational gathering. But more the stuff that no one really wants to pay attention to. That is where the essence of your leadership journey begins. In the mundane everyday systematic pace and process and routine of life.
In the same way that you lose weight by creating new habits, and you quit smoking by creating new habits, and you improve your attitude by creating new habits, so it goes with your leadership. You will influence better and truly be a transformative leader once you establish leadership habits in your life that create a sustainable and formidable system that will put your leadership into action.
Change what you do daily and you will change what you do weekly, and monthly, and yearly, and for a lifetime. Transformation happens because of habits, key elements and essentials becoming second hand, part of your normal routine and actions.
Goals lead to behavior, which leads to practice, which leads to habits, which lead to change, which leads to health. How you approach your day is how you will ultimately live your life. Daily habits lead to yearly transformation, which leads to lifetime influence and impact.
Q. You’re very open and honest about how you’ve led, especially Catalyst? Why did you decide to include so much about, frankly, what you feel like you did wrong?
It was important to me to shoot really straight in this book. The very nature of this book required a bit more transparency. But I would also say that I believe the leaders who will have the most influence and impact are the ones who are willing to be vulnerable and talk openly about their struggles and failures.
And that’s a hard thing for a lot of leaders to do. Many times, when we get to a point where other people are listening to us, and we’ve got something to manage––something to lose––we sort of go into the default mode of “Okay, make sure everything looks perfect.”
Today, people crave authenticity. This need has even influenced the way we shop and purchase our products from organizations. Today, customers buy from those we feel are trustworthy. Equally, we want to invest in people and companies that we can trust, not necessarily because they’re well known or largest or leaders in their industry.
Really, the first couple of chapters of the book are about defining and setting this foundation of “Man, you’ve got to be willing to be real with people around you if you want them to follow you.”
So often, leadership, especially self-help leadership and personal growth literature, can feel very pie in the sky––very esoteric. You’re philosophizing constantly.
Readers need a practical example that they can wrap their arms around––actually feel and see and experience the very specific thing that somebody has gone through. It’s one thing to tell others to be willing to share struggles and to talk about failures. It’s another thing to say, “Here’s what I’ve failed at.”
But the leaders I respect the most are the ones who continue to run the race well until the gun goes off, whether that’s because their life is over or they retire. That’s the posture of hungry: the idea that you constantly are learning and getting better. That’s the kind of leader I want to be. I think that’s the kind of leaders we need today.
I think it’s important for people to realize this is an ongoing journey.
Q. One of your most powerful ideas in the book is about creativity. You argue that it’s not something some people are just born with- that it’s a habit that can be developed. When did you realize this?
It became really clear to me while leading creative — and by creatives, I mean people responsible for innovation and brainstorming and thinking outside the box – that many of us are asked to lead those kinds of teams, and we sense pretty quickly that that’s not the way we’re wired.
While leading, I had to wrestle with questions about creativity––do I just not know how to do this? Am I not part of that group? Do I need to bow out of being a part of the creative process? I realized the answer to all of those questions is no. Most of the time, creativity and innovation come out of a process, and the process is what actually allows a truly creative idea to emerge.
It’s important for leaders to realize that they don’t have to be the smartest person, the most creative, or an exceptionally innovative thinker. What they have to be willing to do is to allow the process to define how creativity happens. And most of us aren’t…we’re too impatient. Most of the time we end up quitting on an idea right before the breakthrough is about to happen.
It takes patience. It takes a culture that says we’re willing to wait on something. It takes leaders who are willing to say, “We’re going to let that stew for a while.”
Many of us are put in the places of leading those kinds of teams, and we sense pretty quickly that that’s not the way we’re wired.
Q. You say innovation should be a habit, too, and that leaders should be change agents. Why is innovation- specifically, continuous, persistent innovation- so important for leaders?
Innovation is pushing yourself. When I say change agent, I’m referring to someone who is not just willing to put up with change, but someone who’s willing to embrace it. They see change as a friend and recognize that without change, things die.
Innovation is all about being intentional. It takes courage, stamina, and spark to be intentional, but it also takes failure. You have to know that you’re going to fail, over and over again.
We tend to automatically associate innovation with creativity––and that’s not wrong. It does require creativity. But it’s more about intentionality––the mindset of constantly pursuing something better, of pushing the boundaries and never sitting still.
Healthy things grow, and growth requires change. Leaders who don’t change––don’t innovate––are going to be left behind.
Q. You also write that no habit is more important than execution. Why?
Execution is incredibly important––and so many leaders are actually pretty bad at it. I think that’s due in large part to the fact that many leaders are natural initiators who are invigorated and motivated by taking risks on new endeavors. Getting started is important. But finishing is more important––otherwise, what’s the point?
Getting things done and making it happen is so important as a leader. Many would argue that leaders should solely focus on idea creation, vision, and hang in the corner office only concerned about creating the future. But I would suggest that the best leaders today take a different approach. Yes, they are focused on idea creation, and vision, and creating the future. While equally committed to being in the trenches, besides your team, with your hands in the dirt helping dig the ditch. Strong leadership now requires consistent action. Go and Do, not just sit and be. Leadership in action is leadership that has traction. Move things forward. Make things happen. Get it done. Constant forward motion.
In the book, we delve deeply into ways to cultivate a habit of execution. We look at procedural tips like creating a plan for accountability and discovering the time of day when you’re the most productive, to hiring good people who are strong finishers––not just strong talkers.
Q. You talk about working at an actual ranch early in your career? Did you really spend days shoveling manure?
Definitely. I worked on a 4-diamond working guest ranch for 5 years right after college. And yes, I scooped a lot of horse manure. Every day. It was very humbling. I consider myself an all star pooper scooper! That time though provided me with an appropriate theology of work- living out Colossians 3:23 every day- that whatever you do, do your work with a great heart for the Lord rather than for men. We had a strong sense of pride in the fact that we kept the corral at Lost Valley Ranch the cleanest in the country. We wanted our guests to know that we valued them by working our guts out to keep the ranch clean and provide them with an amazing experience. Setting that standard at the ranch taught me the power of excellence.
Q. A Habit of partnership seems to be important to you? How does a leader become collaborative without being competitive?
Collaboration has to flow from a place of generosity, truly believing that a higher tide lifts all boats. Be more concerned with others. Listen instead of talk. Be interested over interesting. To be collaborative we must understand that it’s not about me. It’s not about your organization, your non profit, or your project. It’s about connecting people, not competing. Collaborators are okay sharing their wisdom, their knowledge, their connections, and their networks, because collaboration means working together alongside others. Co-laboring. Building bridges instead of constructing walls. We at Catalyst have partnered with those who might be seen as competitors, because we believe in an abundance mentality. When you have an abundance mindset you are more likely to collaborate instead of compete. Avoid the scarcity mentality – the idea that there is only so much to go around. Think of churches in the same city- if you believe we’re all on the same team it’s much easier to collaborate instead of compete.
Q. What does the world need most from leaders today?
That’s a tough question because I think the scorecard for leaders is cumulative. I mean, you can live out a few of these habits well, but if you’re not pursuing and embracing all of them, then you’re still missing pieces of the puzzle. Your leadership will feel incomplete, both to you and to others.
That said, I think the most important thing for leaders today is to understand their individual identity and calling, and to be authentic.
We don’t need perfect leaders. We need realness over relevancy. That’s the good news. The pressure is really off if leaders are willing to lead from their authentic selves. There’s such a hunger for realness today. If you’re willing to embrace that, people will follow you.
I have a deep passion for helping leaders lead well. It’s what drives me. I believe it’s my stewardship, and my responsibility to help these leaders do their jobs well- all over our country in our churches, businesses, and all organizations to lead well. And ultimately finish well. And I’m incredibly optimistic about the next wave of leaders who are now stepping into leadership roles. It’s a generation of leaders willing to work their guts outs for something bigger than themselves, and also willing to work together to accomplish the big vision.
H3 Leadership is available now where all books are sold. To order visit Lifeway.com or http://amzn.to/1K350Iz, and to check out more info on the book, along with special offers, visit http://H3Leadership.com or http://bradlomenick.com.
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About Brad Lomenick
Brad Lomenick is a renowned speaker, sought-after leadership consultant, author and longtime president of Catalyst, largely credited with growing the organization into one of the largest and most recognized leadership brand and gathering that it is today. For over 10 years, Brad led the Catalyst Conference and garnered the reputation as a convener of America’s most respected leaders including John Maxwell, Jim Collins, Malcolm Gladwell, Seth Godin, Mark Burnett, Tony Dungy, Marcus Buckingham and Rick Warren, among many others. In 2013, he published his first book, The Catalyst Leader, and his second book, H3 Leadership: Be Humble. Stay Hungry. Always Hustle., released in September of 2015. A prolific content creator, for eight years Brad hosted the Catalyst Podcast, interviewing change makers from across the globe and attracting hundreds of thousands of listeners per month. Additionally, he frequently blogs about leadership, the next generation, creativity, innovation, social media, teamwork, personal growth, and more on his website. He has been featured in TIME, Washington Post, Fast Company, Business Insider, CNN.com, Religion News Service, and others. For more information, visit bradlomenick.com.
The intro to the Q&A session was written by Ben Trueblood, Director of LifeWay Student Ministry