In this episode of 12 O’Clock High, a podcast on business leadership, Richard Lummis and myself consider how leaders grew and evolved during crucible crisis in their professional careers. This podcast is based on the Harvard Business Review article, Crucibles of Leadership by Warren Bennis and Robert J. Thomas, where the authors posited that “a crucible is, by definition, a transformative experience through which an individual comes to a new or an altered sense of identity. It can often involve the experience of prejudice, as “it forces an individual to confront a distorted picture of him- or herself, and it often unleashes profound feelings of anger, bewilderment, and even withdrawal. For all its trauma, however, the experience of prejudice is for some a clarifying event. Through it, they gain a clearer vision of who they are, the role they play, and their place in the world.”

The key is how individuals deal with such or even any similar adversity. You can and indeed must learn from negative events. This is not simply learning from your mistakes but forces you into a deep self-reflection where you examine a wide set of core beliefs, including your own judgment. A successful leader will emerge from such a personal trauma stronger, more confident, with more purpose and indeed more committed to your values and work.

Some of the highlights include:

  1. What a “Crucible of Leadership”?
  2. Some examples of crucibles of leadership.
  3. Sidney Harman-Richard
  4. Vernon Jordan-Tom
  5. Four Essential Leadership Skills
  6. Engage Others in Shared Meaning
  7. Distinctive, Compelling Voice
  8. Integrity
  9. Adaptive Capacity