Updated Friday, 31st of May, 2024


What is Extreme Leadership

Global Motivational Speaker with over 30 years of experience

Extreme Leadership
Table of Contents

Many people who call themselves leaders are merely pretending. They embrace the title without truly committing to the role. If you genuinely aspire to lead, approach leadership like an extreme sport—embrace the fear and excitement that come with it. This requires a personal commitment and a significant choice. My friend Terry Pearce once illustrated this point by comparing aspiring leaders to would-be matadors who, once in the ring with a charging bull, realize they were only interested in the costume and the applause.

True leaders jump into the ring out of a love for the challenge and adventure. This passion makes the fear worthwhile and even essential. Fear and love are both integral to the extreme experience. Without fear, there is no thrill; without love for the game, the fear is unbearable.

Extreme Leadership is the dynamic interplay of fear and love, two of the most powerful human experiences. Those who intentionally embrace these emotions and strive to create positive change in any field are Extreme Leaders. If you’re ready to make that choice, continue reading.

Cultivate Love

Pursue what you love while serving those who appreciate your work.

The emotion of love is often seen as inappropriate in the business world, with many believing that successful business people keep their emotions separate from their work. However, true leaders lead with love. It is the heart that fuels creativity in everyday tasks and inspires loyalty, drive, and innovative brilliance.

The concept of “love” frequently appears in leadership literature and is recognized as vital for productive relationships between leaders and followers or coaches and employees. Research from the Tom Peters Company shows that effective coaching requires genuine care for the person being coached; merely going through the motions isn’t enough.

When I use the term “love,” I mean it in the broadest sense. It’s not about romantic love with everyone you work with—that would be impractical. Instead, it’s about finding something to care deeply about in your business and in each person involved. This care must be authentic, and those you work with need to feel it.

The key is to genuinely love your customers and act from that place of motivation. Great business relationships are built similarly to romantic ones: by paying close attention to the other person’s needs, desires, hopes, and aspirations. It involves knowing when to stand firm on your principles and when to sacrifice short-term gains for long-term relationships. By demonstrating through your actions that your care is genuine, and not just following the latest training advice, you embody the Extreme Leader who truly loves the customer and strives to enhance their life.

Generate Energy

Energy is not abstract or metaphysical; it’s a tangible, palpable force. You can feel it when you have it, and you notice when you don’t. Whether you spring out of bed in the morning or struggle to lift yourself off the mattress, your energy level is unmistakable.

Within moments of entering a company’s reception area, I can sense if the place is vibrant and exciting or lifeless and dull. This atmosphere is not accidental. It’s created by someone, and if it’s your workplace, that someone might be you.

Consider this: do you generate more energy when you enter a room or when you leave it?

Energy fuels our passion and enthusiasm, keeping us engaged in our work day after day. Part of this energy comes from a sense of “higher purpose,” as noted by John Chambers. A 2001 CEO survey by Accenture and The Conference Board found that many CEOs believe employees want to feel passionate about their company’s mission and to be part of something greater than just business results. The role of an Extreme Leader is to continually define and redefine that higher purpose.

As Michael Cunningham wrote in “The Hours,” shouting loud enough for long enough will attract a crowd, but they won’t stay unless you give them a reason.

Inspire Audacity

Audacity is defined as “a bold and blatant disregard for normal constraints,” but it carries mixed connotations. According to Webster’s New World Thesaurus, audacity can mean courage, daring, and valor, or it can imply impudence, impertinence, and brazenness.

Love-inspired audacity embodies courage, not impudence. The word courage itself derives from the Latin word “cor,” meaning heart. An Extreme Leader, therefore, acts with courageous audacity in all endeavors.

Carly Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett Packard, once said, “A leader’s greatest obligation is to make possible an environment where people can aspire to change the world.” This statement captures the essence of audacious leadership, urging leaders to ask themselves, “How are we going to change the world?” Whether it’s the World at large or your immediate environment, the key is to connect your work to its broader impact and to be bold in your aspirations. Henry Ford’s prediction that “the horse will disappear from the highways” exemplifies this kind of audacious thinking. If transforming the World seems too grand, focus on changing the world of your customers, your company, or your colleagues.

Embracing Extreme Leadership Principles

True leadership transcends titles and appearances; it requires diving into the role with a genuine commitment, embracing both fear and exhilaration. Extreme leadership principles center on the dynamic interplay of fear and love, urging leaders to face challenges and adventures head-on. This approach demands a personal choice to engage fully, much like an extreme sport where fear heightens the experience and love for the challenge makes it worthwhile.

By harnessing these powerful emotions, leaders can drive significant, positive changes within their organizations and communities. The essence of Extreme Leadership lies in this fearless pursuit of betterment, where love for the game fuels the courage to confront fears. If you’re ready to make this bold leap, you are prepared to embody the true spirit of Extreme Leadership.

What are the benefits of embracing fear as a leader?

Extreme Leadership is deeply personal and inherently frightening. It involves striving to transform the status quo, which is daunting because it requires you and others to abandon the familiar. The fear stems from the uncertainty of success and the potential judgment and scrutiny you may face, putting your credibility at risk. Authentic leadership cannot exist without encountering fear.

We are often taught that fear is a negative emotion. While fear can indeed protect you from danger or reckless actions, avoiding it can also prevent you from achieving greatness, learning new things, and growing as an individual. Fear is a natural component of growth, and since growth, change, and revolution are central to an Extreme Leader’s mission, fear is an inevitable part of the journey.

In the right context, your experience of fear or exhilaration serves as an internal signal that you are on the right path. It indicates that you are truly leading. This intense, often gut-wrenching experience is what I refer to as the “Oh Shit! Moment” or OS!M.

Simply put, if you’re engaging with all the latest leadership trends, reading the newest books, and discussing modern management theories without feeling that visceral churn in your stomach, without scaring yourself daily, and without regularly experiencing the OS!M, then you are not making a significant impact. You are certainly not leading. As an Extreme Leader, your OS!Ms will come from taking Radical LEAPs every day.

Extreme Ownership vs. Dichotomy of Leadership: 

In the realm of leadership, two powerful concepts stand out: Extreme Ownership and the Dichotomy of Leadership. Extreme Ownership emphasizes taking full responsibility for all aspects of a team’s performance, empowering leaders to drive success through accountability and proactive problem-solving. On the other hand, the Dichotomy of Leadership highlights the delicate balance leaders must strike between seemingly opposing forces, such as confidence and humility, or authority and approachability.

Understanding and applying these principles can transform your leadership style, fostering a culture of trust, responsibility, and effective decision-making within your organization. By mastering both Extreme Ownership and the Dichotomy of Leadership, you equip yourself with the tools needed to navigate complex challenges and inspire your team to achieve extraordinary results.

Mastering Extreme Network Leadership for Organizational Success

Unlock the power of Extreme Network Leadership, a dynamic approach to building and leading effective, high-performing teams. This concept focuses on leveraging strong, interconnected relationships within and outside your organization to drive innovation, collaboration, and growth. By mastering Extreme Network Leadership, you can cultivate a network of trust, influence, and support, enabling you to tackle complex challenges and achieve exceptional results. Learn how to harness the collective strength of your network and lead with confidence and clarity.

shape | Eric Bailey Global

ABOUT Eric Bailey, Global Motivational Speaker

Eric Bailey is a powerhouse motivational speaker, inspiring audiences around the world with his dynamic presence, powerful storytelling, and unwavering passion.

For over 30 years, he has been a motivational speaker worldwide and has influenced the lives of over 4.5 million people in 13 countries.

Eric provides speaking services for anyone looking for speakers for conferences, team-building activities, personal development workshops facilitation, and events hosted by nonprofit organizations.

Let Eric’s expertise captivate your audience and make your occasion truly remarkable.

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