039 Old School Leaders in a New School World with Alain Hunkins

“Work on yourself harder than you work on your job. All leadership development starts and ends with personal development; you cannot separate the two out, so find ways to grow and improve yourself.” – Alain Hunkins

Welcome back to the show, everyone! Thanks for being here. Today’s topic is Old School Leaders in a New School World.

My guest today is Alain Hunkins, TEDx Speaker and author of the new book, Cracking the Leadership Code. Over the last 20 years, Alain has trained tens of thousands of leaders across 25 countries, helping them shorten their leadership curve and accelerate growth. He also serves on the faculty of Duke Corporate Education.

We also talk a bit about:

  • How to build your focus and communication,
  • The 3 secrets to building strong leaders,
  • The 4 fundamental needs that need to be satisfied for people to perform at their best,
  • Why the old school leader flounders in today’s current environment,
  • What led us to that point today, and
  • What they can do to remain relevant and effective.

Don’t forget to subscribe and rate us on Apple Podcasts!

Building your focus and communication

Some of the things I learned early on through failure is that whether it’s kids or adults, people need really clear instructions on what to do. If people don’t have clarity, it’s a mess.

Give people an understanding of why we’re doing what we’re doing, and that ‘why’ needs to relate to something for them. What’s in it for them to listen?

You, as a leader, have an agenda, and so do the people you’re leading. If you want, you can take a piece of paper and put a line down the middle. On the left side, build your agenda. On the right side of that line, put down their agenda. “What’s in it for me to listen?” “Why should I be engaged?” “If I do well, what happens?” “If I don’t do well, what happens?”

And then as you’re building out your communication, just forget the left side. Just build it from the right side. Build it out of their agenda. Because the fact is, leaders, we need to frame our focus and our communication from the point of view of those who we want to lead.


Honest, Open, Candid Feedback

If you know that you want to get better, the first thing I would do is reach out and ask for feedback from people around you. Honest, open, candid feedback.

“I want to get better. What do you suggest I do?”

You can use a formal 360 instrument, or you can just go over and have an honest conversation. If you make the introduction and open the door to people, you’d be surprised at what people would give you.

We say 23% of leaders lead well. If I had a room of 100 leaders, I doubt only 23 of them will raise their hand when I say, “Are you an effective leader?” We all like to think we are, but we’re blind to our own blindness. People feel safe when they’re doing these anonymous surveys about how are your leaders, but if there’s no repercussions, they’ll speak up.

The first secret to building strong leaders

The first place I would start is connection. The fact is, leadership isn’t really a job title or a position; leadership is a relationship between two human beings – the person who leads, and the person who chooses to follow.

Connection starts with listening – listening with empathy and purpose. Beyond anything that you have in terms of your intelligence or your technical functional skills, people want to know that you care about them. Leaders who listen with purpose and empathy outperform their colleagues by 40%.


Links and Resources

Connect with Alain: LinkedIn | Twitter



Cracking the Leadership Code: Three Secrets to Building Strong Leaders by Alain Hunkins

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey

Project Aristotle

Productivity Tools: Freedom App, Focusmate