The New Alpha | Book Review

"Leadership is about becoming the best version of yourself in order to maximize your positive impact on the world." (p. xiv)

Dr. Danielle Harlan's impassioned work is a leadership course in a book. It's also a very good journal, particularly for establishing and tracking fundamental behavioral change goals. One could easily envision a well-worn New Alpha book carried by an emerging leader to a meeting with a senior corporate mentor.

Alignment | Academy Leadership

Five self-assessments in Part I align with the seven self-assessments completed in an Academy Leadership Excellence Course (LEC). Harlan's Wrap-Up and Tracking Progress are much like our What Will I Do Differently workshop end points and program follow-up Action Plans used for Executive Coaching. Likewise, each chapter closely aligns with a corresponding leadership workshop:

                             Chapter                                                                                    Leadership Workshop

1       Demonstrate Character & Ethics               
2       Build Positive and Productive
         Relationships with others           
3       Prioritize Your Health & Wellness               
4       Develop a Mindset for Success         
5       Psychological and Organizational
         Strategies to Help You Achieve Your Goals
6       Define Your Personal Leadership Identity
7       Identify Your Vision                                  
8       Develop Your Plan                           
9       Execute Your Plan                          
10     Identify the Vision                                    
11     Develop the Plan                                      
12     Execute the Plan                  
13     Sustaining Progress, Growth and Motivation

Managing a Leader's Style & Energy

Energy Management
Energy Management
Aligning and Accomplishing Goals

Your Personal Leader's Compass
Core Values Alignment
Your Personal Leadership Development Plan
Your Personal Leadership Development Plan
Core Values Alignment
Your Personal Leadership Development Plan
Your Personal Leadership Development Plan
Effective Decision Making

This review highlights several specific areas of emphasis for the emerging New Alpha leader.

Identity | Your Leadership Philosophy

Influence, rather than authority, is the source of leadership. Regardless of their official title or position, people who strive for excellence in all areas of their lives and who can bring big ideas to life -- especially those rooted in a purpose greater than themselves -- are often the best and most inspiring leaders (p. xv). This reminds us of Aaron Hurst's The Purpose Economy.

Dr. Harlan's defines a Personal Leadership Identity as follows:

• Your Personal Values
• Your Character Strengths
• Your Professional Skills
• Your Interests and Passions
• Your Ideal Success Conditions

Note the Leadership Identity contains some of the elements of a Personal Leadership Philosophy. At the core, both are fueled by deeply held personal values and corresponding passion. We can consider virtue as our values in action. Harlan likewise defines five essential leadership habits (p. 6):

• Show kindness and generosity
• Be courageous and act with integrity
• Cultivate humility
• Be industrious
• Practice good citizenship and stewardship

Feedback | Your Leadership Network

Over the years, the Personal Leadership Philosophy category requiring most emphasis has been commitment to feedback. That's asking for, rather than offering feedback. Harlan calls for us to have the courage to ask for feedback plus the additional value of coaches and mentors. She describes building a Circle of Support of (p. 40):

Inspirers are people who inspire and motivate you to be your best self
Mentors are people whom you can go to for advice and guidance (personal or professional). They're often your "sounding boards."
Sponsors are like mentors, but they're more invested in you, so they regularly champion you and your work and recommend you for opportunities. They may also see you as their protégé.
Reliables are people who are reliable and always there for you.
True peers are people who share similar experiences, ways of thinking, and even challenges.
Challengers are people who aren't afraid to push back and give you constructive feedback when necessary.

Vision | Goals & Action Plans

Harlan's excellent vision board development process (pp. 152-153) reminds us of the Google Ventures Sprint process. Like a Focus and Alignment workshop, we should always start with vision and values. For increased effectiveness, she advises we think of two things [we] enjoy, and imagine what they would be like if [we] put them together (p. 98), especially if one or both are High Payoff Activities (HPAs). Also, chunk out (p. 110) your work - that is, pick the highest-leverage (the most important, timely, or relevant) item from this [your] list, and do it now.

On pages 162-163, Harlan lists a variant of SMART goals:

• Specific
• Measurable
• Attainable
• Relevant
• Time bound

which may be tracked in a Daily Achievement Plan (p. 176), very much like the Daily Energy Audit and Daily Energy Plan from an Energy Management Workshop.

Turning knowledge into action was the key finding in The Knowing-Doing Gap.

On pages 211-218, Harlan describes how in via The Six-Steps to Turn Your Vision Into a Workable Plan of Action:

• Set Your Anchors
• Identify the Main Priorities
• Identify SMART Goals
• Make a List of Tasks for Each Goal
• Note Any Other Tasks or To-Dos for the Year Ahead
• Review Your Fabulous Work

A New Alpha Tip about information sharing (p. 230) reminds us of Stanley McChrystal's Team of Teams best practice that one person on each team should know at least one individual on every other team.

Final Thoughts

Harlan offers The New Alpha Resource Guide on-line, which accompanies the book, and may be downloaded for free at:

Note: Dr. Harlan generously provided a copy of her book for review.

JE | February 2017