Amateur or Professional Leadership – Turning Pro for Leaders

In Turning Pro, author Steven Pressfield explains the difference between amateurs and professionals, in any field. Pressfield likens amateurs to addicts – not just drug addicts, but addicts of all forms. In contrast, artists – real artists, are professionals. If you’re passionate about something – anything – and wonder why you’re not making more progress, read this book. I did and, then I read it again and again and again.

After about my third read, I jotted down my perspectives on the difference between the amateur leader and the professional leader. Here’s my take on the difference between an addict and a professional in leadership:

The Amateur Leader

  • Losers Down the Hole, Winners Take OffControls
  • Spins
  • Seeks titles and compensation
  • Desires praise
  • Holds a grudge
  • Seeks work/life balance
  • Worries about who is to blame, to avoid blame theirself
  • Takes the praise so they look good to others
  • Expects others to do the dirty work
  • Watches the clock
  • Worries about when their people arrive and leave
  • Seeks the approval of others
  • Asks, “What’s in it for me?”
  • Worries about perception

The Professional Leader

  • Serves
  • Delivers
  • Seeks impact and evolution
  • Desires results
  • Moves on
  • Seeks work/life alignment
  • Takes the blame, so the team can move on
  • Shares the praise, so the team is rewarded
  • Worries about what people accomplish
  • Does the dirty work and expects the same of others
  • Watches the deliverable
  • Seeks an inner-peace with themselves
  • Asks, “How will this help our team?”
  • Worries about reality

Many thanks to Chris Brogan for pointing me to Pressfield’s work and of course, to Mr. Pressfield for this great book.

Question: Have you turned Pro? If not, what are you doing about it? You can leave a comment here.


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Ben Lichtenwalner

Ben Lichtenwalner is the founder and principal of Modern Servant Leader and Radiant Forest, LLC. He has studied and promoted servant leadership awareness and adoption for over 20 years. He is the author of 2 leadership books and has 2 decades of corporate management and leadership experience. His corporate experience spans CIO, VP, Director, and many management roles at Fortune 500, INC 500, and Nonprofits. Ben’s education includes a B.S. in Management Science & Information Systems from Penn State University and an MBA from Lehigh University. Ben's Full Profile Here: About Ben Lichtenwalner

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