Today on Unleashed we welcome Drew Dudley who’s been called one of the most inspirational TED speakers in the world. His mission is to help people unlearn some dangerous lessons about leadership and to capitalize on leadership moments of impact every day.

Drew is the founder and chief catalyst of Day One Leadership where he has helped top organizations around the world increase their leadership capacity. His clients have included McDonald’s, American Express, JP Morgan Chase, and The United Way. He is also the bestselling author of This is Day One: A Practical Guide to Leadership That Matters.

Misconceptions about Leadership

When learning something new, we often anchor to the first examples that we are exposed to. Most of us learned about leaders and leadership by seeing a figurative “giant” held up as an example; leaders in politics (Winston Churchill), business (Steve Jobs), or military ventures (Alexander the Great). Historically they are white, male, straight, charismatic, and loud. This deep-seated image makes it difficult for many of us to recognize ourselves as leaders. We say, “well, that’s just not me,” or “I’m not a leader.” Drew’s first point is to challenge this belief by reframing what leadership is today.

Secondly, we also confuse leadership with people who are catalysts and who make things happen. It’s true that leaders are catalysts, but not all catalysts are leaders. Sometimes catalysts influence people through fear, violence, power, and the removal of other’s rights. True leaders use influence to positively impact others and remove fear.

Drew proposes a new way of defining leadership. Firstly, leadership is a choice we make every day to use human interaction to positively impact others. It is not tied to what we look like, how we sound, or what experience we have had. Leadership is displayed through interactions, done consistently, and with intention to help another. He calls these moments of personal impact. In this way we become Everyday Leaders.

Some believe that leadership needs to be different during the pandemic, or that we don’t have time or the ability to do it well because we are not seeing people face-to-face. Drew disagrees. In fact, we may have more opportunities now to display moments of interpersonal impact – acts of courage, kindness, accountability, and forgiveness – than we had before. Just the ‘how’ is different. Maybe now it’s through a phone call, a Zoom meeting or a hand-written card.

The Everyday Leader Process

The Everyday Leader is based on extensive research that Drew spear-headed at the University of Toronto. It begins with some foundational psychology:

Combined, these two concepts from brain science suggest that if we want to change the way we operate, we should pose questions of ourselves each day and leave them unanswered.

But what questions?

The Everyday Leader questions tie to values. Personal values are effectual if they are clear and we use them every day to make decisions. i.e. they are not just a plaque on the wall.

Drew’s six values are a noble list, a great place to start, and translate easily to open questions:

Therefore, to be an Everyday Leader we must begin each day by asking ourselves these questions and end each day by trying to answer them. Daily journaling would be an ideal way to support this process.

Every Day is Day One

In his personal life, Drew spoke about the adversity he has faced. His demons included obesity, alcohol, and mental illness. And it can be intimidating to set a goal to defeat all those demons for the rest of his life.

Instead he suggests treating every day as if This is Day One. All you have to do is commit to being the best leader, and person, you can be today. Forget about the mistakes of the past and don’t be overwhelmed by the immensity of all your tomorrows. Just focus on today.

All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.
JRR Tolkien, “The Lord of the Rings”

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