He is the former CEO and Chief Brand Officer of E-Myth, where he led the transformation of a global coaching brand and has worked in tech, clean tech, and the nonprofit world after graduating law school in 1998.
To celebrate the launch of Good Authority, Jonathan will visit Pregame HQ this month for a live event about the principles of Leadership Integrity. Here’s a preview:
What does it mean to be a good authority?
A good authority is a leader who makes it their mission to help the people around them grow. They understand that there’s no conflict between reaching ambitious business goals and creating a healthy work environment, that they can and should go together. And they have decided that they are going to use their position of authority to be part of the solution.
Would you say that most leaders naturally have the ability or is it a skill that needs to be practiced?
I’d say leaders don’t get to where they are without some minimum amount of natural leadership ability. But mostly what I see is leaders who have far more capacity and potential than they’re showing up with today. To unlock the highest version of leadership in themselves takes practice, being willing to be vulnerable, push the boundaries of relationships, and listen and learn from how they impact the world around them.
What is “borrowed” authority?
Borrowed authority is the idea that until we investigate the beliefs about authority we inherited from our parents, teachers – not to mention the business culture in general – we’re still borrowing our leadership style from the past instead of discovering the one that genuinely expresses who we are today. In Good Authority, I say the opposite of Good Authority isn’t bad authority, it’s borrowed. Most leaders have good intentions, but until we do the work, we’re bogged down by ideas and beliefs about what it means to be the boss that hold us back, and create pain and confusion for the employees in our care.
Can you explain your leadership archetype system of Fixer, Fighter, or Friend?
Fixer, Fighter, or Friend came out of a conversation with some of my clients. I’d been doing a lot of speaking about how we, as leaders, disempower our team without realizing it. At some point I saw that there were three different patterns or themes for how different leaders (including myself) are doing that. This archetype system is the result and it’s been an incredibly helpful frame for leaders to connect long-held professional patterns with their personal values and goals. It’s been fascinating to watch this tool develop and what people are discovering with it.
Which archetype do you think is most prevalent in American businesses and companies today?
These days I’d say it’s the Friend. I see so many leaders going over the top to try and be nice, “compassionate” and spend a lot of energy trying to cushion people from difficult moments. Not so different than helicopter parents who struggle to let their children fail and learn, the Friend leaders I see are innocently depriving their teams of the most important element we all need to grow – consequences when we go off course that we can then learn from. I see a lot of Fighters these days too – the perpetual idea-machine type leader. And, there’s no shortage of Fixers out there too.
Good authority isn’t limited to the office. What other areas of our lives could be beneficial?
One of the most rewarding things to me has been how quickly people make the connection between Good Authority at work and how it applies to home – in particular how they’re raising their kids and, in another way, what it means for vulnerable communication between spouses and partners. As a father of one with another on the way, it’s a subject dear to my heart.
What do you think will be the biggest leadership challenge of 2017?
How to create a culture that offers something people can’t get from working on their own. It’s so unbelievably easy to create your own business now – not without risk – but to take your individual talent and go it alone without the dysfunction and toxicity that so easily drains us when the CEO and leaders take their eye off the culture ball. On the flip side, I think we’ll see leaders who take up this challenge create some remarkably new places to work, a kind of company culture that the world will stand up and take notice.
On October 27 at 5:00pm, Jonathan will discuss Good Authority and leadership integrity at the Pregame Clubhouse in Portland. Tickets are $40 for guests, free for Pregame members. Space is limited: sign up now!