Posted on Jul 10, 2018

The Leadership Code Summary

PDF, Chapters & Review of Dave Ulrich, Norm Smallwood & Kate Sweetman’s Book

The Leadership Code: Five Rules to Lead By

Authors: Dave Ulrich, Norm Smallwood & Kate Sweetman

Click Here to Get the PDF Summary of This Book & Many More


The authors wanted to find the essence of leadership and turned to about 2 dozen leadership experts and combined their books/articles and discussions with them to find the answer to two questions:

Question: What percent of effective leadership is essentially the same?

Answer: Data, interviews, research and experience suggested 60-70%

These shared attributes they call The Leadership Code, the other part they call Differentiators


Question: If there are common rules that all leaders must master, what are they?

Answer: Created framework of where leaders must focus their attention across two dimensions:

  •      time (short/long term) and level (individuals vs organization)
  •      this creates 4 quadrants + one personal focus to create 5 leadership rules

Rule 1: Shape the Future

Where is your company headed? What is the direction of your career? Leaders are strategists, they answer the questions ‘where are we going?’ As practical futurists, they figure out what the organization needs to succeed and map the direction they must go based on current and planned resources. They work effectively with others to figure out how to get from the present to the desired future.

Rule 2: Make Things Happen

How will you make sure you get to where you’re going? If you are a leader that makes things happen you are an executor (as in, one who executes). Executors translate strategy into action. They put systems in place that help others do the same. They focus on getting things done.

Rule 3: Engage Today’s Talent

Who are the right people for your organization? Leaders that optimize today’s talent are referred to as talent managers. They understand what skills are required to carry out their mission, and they know how to attract the right talent to their organization.

Rule 4: Build the Next Generation

Who stays and sustains the next generation? Leaders with this focus are human capital developers. They ensure long-term leadership development and focus on assuring the growth and progress of their organization. They can spot future talent and understand how to develop those who possess it.

Rule 5: Invest in Yourself

This rule is the center of The Leadership Code and promotes personal proficiency. Leaders are learners: they learn from their successes and from failures, they read books, take classes and learn from life itself. “Effective leaders inspire loyalty and goodwill in others because they themselves act with integrity and trust.” They are decisive and have a passion for making bold and courageous moves.

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