The 100-Mile Walk

A Father and Son on a Quest to Find the Essence of Leadership

The 100-Mile Walk

Authors: Sander A. Flaum, Jonathon A. Flaum, Mechele Flaum
Pub Date: January 2006
Print Edition: $19.95
Print ISBN: 9780814408636
Page Count: 272
Format: Paper or Softback
e-Book ISBN: 9780814429068

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Each leader has his or her own beliefs, perspectives, experiences, and style. Perhaps nowhere are the differences more pronounced than between leaders of different generations. As they try to work together toward common goals, their divergent approaches often carry them miles away from one another and from desired outcomes.

But there is more common ground than most leaders realize. Finding it may involve a bit of a journey—in Sander and Jonathon Flaum’s case, it was a literal one. In search of the universal qualities of leadership, the father and son found themselves having their most enlightening discussions not in an office or boardroom, but while walking together. Over mountains and along beaches, up and down city streets and country roads they went, for six months, until they had covered 100 miles—and perhaps learned as much about each other and their relationship as they did about the essence of leadership.

So, what sort of definition of leadership do you get when you meld the perspectives of a 65-year-old traditional CEO with those of his son, a 36-year-old entrepreneur who is a student of Zen? The 100-Mile Walk recounts the authors’ trek and sets out their newfound knowledge in the form of nine points on which every leader (and aspiring leader) must focus:

People. Have the self-esteem to hire people as smart or smarter than you are, and who will not only respond to your pushing, but will also push back.

Purpose. Clearly define your vision for your people, and shape all decisions around that objective.

Passion. Do the job like it’s never been done before.

Performance. In a culture of incessant "multitasking," remember the importance of focus and flawless execution—one A+ outcome at a time.

Persistence. Success means "no" is only for today; fight for a "yes" tomorrow. It takes total conviction that It Can Be Done.

Perspective. Check out the internal environment daily. When someone needs a pat on the back, give it. The payback is immeasurable.

Paranoia. Assume your competitors are gunning for you, the elder Flaum advises. Do whatever is necessary to keep your competitive edge. Conversely, says the son, you can escape the grip of paranoia by accepting competition as a natural outcome of capitalism, to be approached creatively, not combatively.

Principles. "The real work of leadership," credibility and ethics must be drivers of your everyday actions. If they are only vague statements unrelated to your "real work," you are not a real leader. Do the right thing all the time, not just when it’s convenient, and people will flock to you.

Practice. Real leaders continuously work at their craft, and they love to practice just as artists, athletes, and musicians do. Practice the nine Ps daily, and live your principles, until what you do is what you are!

The challenge of leadership is timeless. As it turns out, so are its several solutions. As the realm of the contemporary leader grows ever wider and more complex, the nine points identified in The 100-Mile Walk will continue to resonate with leaders of every type and generation.

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