The Leadership Secret

I was honored when Major Chris Whipp, former British Army Officer, head of Command and Tactics training to the Army Air Corps and the first Apache Attack Helicopter Pilot in the Blue Eagles Helicopter Display Team, reached out to me to share a preview of his book, “The Leadership Secret: Be the Difference that Makes the Difference.”

As I wrote in my review and believe wholeheartedly, Chris does a masterful job of distilling the intricacies of leadership down to a critical truth: “There isn’t good or bad leadership…You are leading or you are not.”

This important truth forces people to look at their approach to leadership in a very honest light. He also encourages everyone to view themselves as a potential leader because, as he reminds us, you do not have to be the best at any particular skill to excel as a leader.

Most importantly, Chris reminds us all that the evolution of our world has led us to a place where the keys to leadership in business as well as the military include flexibility, the freedom to maneuver, and mutual trust between leader and followers.

As with Keni Thomas’s book, Get It On! What it Means to Lead the Way, about his experiences fighting in the horrific 1993 Battle of Mogadishu, there were so many leadership lessons from Chris’s military examples that made me think more expansively about business leadership.

The Source of Mutual Trust

The source of mutual trust between leader and followers is the belief that we have each other’s best interest at heart. I wanted to highlight this because Chris does a brilliant job throughout the book of giving examples of actions that tie back to creating this trust. In fact, he has a whole chapter on Getting to Know Your Staff that begins with this insightful quote:

“If motivated you will do it now, if inspired you will do it forever.”

One might think that the importance of getting to know your team is obvious, as would be the process to go about doing so. But I recently coached a woman who was invited, along with her boss, to meet with the executive two levels up (her boss’s boss). They were to discuss her career goals as part of a focused talent management program, helping high-potential employees to get the visibility and opportunities necessary to continue along their desired path.

When she and her boss got into the meeting with the higher-up, the executive started the conversation by telling her what he thought was best for her. He went on to explain to her all the reasons she should be motivated by various steps, and about his experience helping others “like her” move up in the organization. The woman was dumbfounded by the leader’s complete lack of interest in what she actually wanted, and what her very clear motivations were. Instead, he made the conversation all about him.

I suspect many of you know people just like this!

Chris does a fantastic job of talking leaders not only through how to get to know your staff, but yourself as well. He even devotes an entire chapter to “Learning Emotional State Control,” which is critical for leaders under stress (um, all of us!). His “how-to’s” truly set this book apart, and they’re written with the directness of a military officer who truly does have your best interest at heart!

I highly recommend The Leadership Secret to anyone looking to be the kind of leader people seek out and loyally follow!


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