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Part III: The Disruptive Leader

Chapter 6—The Disruptive Leader’s Motivation: A Different Attitude

What does it take to be a disruptive leader? Do you need to be a brilliant agitator like Steve Jobs? An obscenity-spewing trash-talker like T-Mobile’s John Legere? A driven workaholic with a passion to change the world like Tesla’s Elon Musk? Sure, CEOs like that get a lot of press, but there’s more to success than being loud and charismatic. Truly disruptive leaders are like Master Chefs on a cooking show, always looking for ways to take existing ingredients—the same ones everyone else has access to—and combine them in unique ways. Those new recipes are a type of investment capital: the more you have, the better. Of course, not all of them will succeed. But disruptive thinking and leadership is less about the success of any one idea and more about putting your business in a position where you have more new ideas to spend than your competition does. Most importantly, being a disruptive leader is about creating a culture where everyone values new recipes. Because if you want to build a disruptive organization, you first have to build more disruptive leaders.

Chapter 7—The Disruptive Leader’s Mindset: A Different Awareness

It’s hard to imagine alternatives when you depend on a set of assumptions and habits, when that set of assumptions and habits serves you well, and when everyone around you has the same assumptions and habits. As the old saying goes, “It’s difficult to get someone to understand something, when their salary depends upon them not understanding it.” As a result of all this, an organization’s range of actions is generally limited to what is comfortable and conventional. Disruptive leaders are able to steer clear of those traps. They constantly challenge their assumptions and habits and those of the people around them, and they expect to be challenged in return. Disruptive leaders have the power to see possibilities beyond what others have defined as limits, and the power to rethink what their organization is and what it might become. Most of all, they have the power to bring out those same powers in the people they lead.

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