Turn One: Learning to lead self.

Turn Two: Learning to lead an organization and others.

Turn Three: Learning to lead toward future value, succession, and legacy.

Leaders who learn and lead in a Third Turn found a way to flourish in their Second Turn after they accepted the C-suite role.

Accept an organizational leadership role and enter a crucible.

A crucible is a ceramic or porcelain container within which other materials are smelted--a process where the material is subjected to high temperatures and pressures. The word crucible represents a severe test that shapes a person, breaking or making them.

A crucible comes with a leadership role. 

  • You are consistently, sometimes unintentionally, and occasionally willfully misunderstood, no matter how much effort you put into clear communication.
  • A variety of forces stridently demand your attention. The more you accomplish, the more these forces try to shift your attention away from what matters.
  • Mistakes that others make get assigned to you. You have to own the problem and accept the responsibility simply because you are the leader.
  • Difficulties your people face become your difficulties also because they affect your organization's ability to fulfill its mission. 
  • Your every action and word is scrutinized. Some people choose to dislike you simply because you are the leader.

Other such pressures could be listed. The weakest leaders are destroyed by them, washing out and ultimately trying to avoid leadership roles in the future. Weak leaders wrongly believe these pressures should not come their way and avoid or deny their reality. Finding denial impossible, weak leaders may try to crush others before they are crushed.

 Leaders made by the crucible, and made strong by it, are those looking for a different measure of their well-being.

  • They communicate, knowing they will be misunderstood, and use misunderstanding as an opportunity to listen and communicate yet again.
  • They reduce their role to its essentials and then ensure they have a life rhythm that keeps them focused on completing what must be done. Tomorrow also. And the day after that.
  • They understand that they embody their organization because they are a leader. The mistakes of others ARE their mistakes. They turn these mistakes into opportunities to improve, teach, and get them right.
  • They have sincere sympathy for the life struggles faced by people with whom they work. They do not get sucked into the insanity of others; however, they are fully aware that this may be misperceived as uncaring.
  • They understand that loneliness comes with a leader's role. No one can completely understand what sitting in that leader's chair means.

More than anything, leaders who are made by the crucible know that life is a crucible for everyone. Life itself is the most significant pressure that breaks or makes any person. Everyone in the organization is pressed hard in some way. A leader's crucible is uniquely intense, but how do we grade excruciation? It is all hard. A leader is confronted with what others face in addition to their struggles because they are a public figure, which might make the leadership experience unique. It does not, however, make the leader more special.

Knowing this difference contributes to one's ability to be made rather than broken by the crucible.

-mark l vincent

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Mark L. Vincent
Post by Mark L. Vincent
November 10, 2022
I walk alongside leaders, listening to understand their challenges, and helping them lead healthy organizations that flourish.