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Hacking Leadership: The 11 Gaps Every Business Needs to Close and the Secrets to Closing Them Quickly

ISBN: 978-1-118-81741-4
208 pages
December 2013
Hacking Leadership: The 11 Gaps Every Business Needs to Close and the Secrets to Closing Them Quickly (1118817419) cover image


Hacking Leadership is Mike Myatt's latest leadership book written for leaders at every level. Leadership isn't broken, but how it's currently being practiced certainly is. Everyone has blind spots. The purpose of Hacking Leadership is to equip leaders at every level with an actionable framework to identify blind spots and close leadership gaps. The bulk of the book is based on actionable, topical leadership and management hacks to bridge eleven gaps every business needs to cross in order to create a culture of leadership: leadership, purpose, future, mediocrity, culture, talent, knowledge, innovation, expectation, complexity, and failure. Each chapter: 

  • Gives readers specific techniques to identify, understand, and most importantly, implement individual, team and organizational leadership hacks.
  • Addresses blind spots and leverage points most leaders and managers haven’t thought about, which left unaddressed, will adversely impact growth, development, and performance. All leaders have blind-spots (gaps), which often go undetected for years or decades, and sadly, even when identified the methods for dealing with them are outdated and ineffective – they need to be hacked.
  • Showcases case studies from the author’s consulting practice, serving as a confidant with more than 150 public company CEOs. Some of those corporate clients include: AT&T, Bank of America, Deloitte, EMC, Humana, IBM, JP Morgan Chase, Merrill Lynch, PepsiCo, and other leading global brands.  

Hacking Leadership offers a fresh perspective that makes it easy for leaders to create a roadmap to identify, refine, develop, and achieve their leadership potential--and to create a more effective business that is financially solvent and professionally desirable. 

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Table of Contents

Prologue xi

Chapter 1: Hacking the Leadership Gap 1

Overview—The Commoditization of Leadership 1

The Leadership Gap Defined 3

Hacking the Control Gap 5

The Awareness Gap—Finding the Blind Spots 7

The Key to Clarity—White Space 8

Hacking the Status Quo 11

Hacking the Preparation Gap 13

Chapter 2 Hacking the Purpose Gap 17

Following in the Footsteps of

Greatness—The Movement Hack 20

Individual Purpose—Hacking the Purpose Continuum 21

Hacking the Pursuit Gap 24

Hacking the Passion Gap 26

Finding Organizational Purpose

Begins with Hacking Why 28

Hacking the Profit Gap 28

Chapter 3 Hacking the Future Gap 33

How to See around Corners—Hacking the Vision Gap 35

To Hack the Future You Must Have Clear Perspective on the Past 36

To Hack the Future You Must Understand How to Navigate the Present 37

Hacking the New Normal 38

Great Leaders Hack the Future by Pulling It Forward 40

Hacking Generational Complexity 42

Chapter 4 Hacking the Mediocrity Gap 45

Hacking the Impulsivity Gap 48

Hacking the Impossibility Gap 50

Hacking the Safety Gap 52

Hacking Political Correctness 54

Chapter 5 Hacking the Culture Gap 57

Hacking the Gap between Strategy and Culture 58

The Right Foundation—Hacking the Culture Construct 60

Hacking the Management Construct 61

Hacking the Scarcity Gap 62

Hacking the Courage Gap 64

Hacking the Arrogance Gap 65

Hacking the Rumor Mill 67

Hacking Diversity 70

Hacking Scalability 73

Hacking the Me Too Gap—Don’t Copy, Create 75

Chapter 6 Hacking the Talent Gap 79

Hacking the Trust Gap 79

Hacking the Loyalty Gap 83

Hacking the Four Dimensions of Talent 86

Hacking the Hiring Gap 89

Hacking the Definition Gap 93

Hacking the Quality Gap—Supply versus Demand 96

Hacking the Consensus Gap 97

Hacking the One-Size-Doesn’t-Fit-All Gap 103

Hacking the Pressure Gap 104

Hacking the Turnover Gap 106

Chapter 7 Hacking the Knowledge Gap 111

Hacking Static Thinking 112

Hacking the Decision Gap 115

Hacking the Competency Gap 119

Hacking the Learning Gap 121

Hacking the Reading Gap 123

Hacking the Communication Gap 126

Hacking the Sensitivity Gap 131

Hacking the Story 134

Hacking Verbosity 136

Chapter 8 Hacking the Innovation Gap 139

Hacking the Idea Trap—What Innovation Is Not 140

Hacking the Change Gap 142

Hacking the Gap between

Incremental and Disruptive 145

Hacking the Next Level 148

Hacking the Competition 150

Hacking the Flexibility Gap 153

Chapter 9 Hacking the Expectation Gap 155

Hacking the Alignment Gap 156

Hacking the Discipline Gap 158

Chapter 10 Hacking the Complexity Gap 161

Hacking Complexity 162

Hacking Smart 163

Chapter 11 Hacking the Failure Gap 167

Hacking Perfection 168

Hacking a Defensive Mind-set 170

Hacking Succession 172

Final Thoughts 177

Hacking Your Family Life 178

Hacking Apathy 180

Hacking the Excuse Gap 180

About the Author 183

Index 185

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Author Information

MIKE MYATT is the CEO of N2growth, a global leader in providing leadership development services to Fortune 500 companies. He is widely regarded as America's Top CEO Coach, the author of Leadership Matters, and a Forbes Leadership Columnist. Mike Myatt is one of the world's most respected authorities on leadership, having been recognized by Thinkers50 and other organizations as one of today's preeminent leadership thinkers, and his theories and practices have been taught at many of the nation's top business schools. Mr. Myatt has worked directly with more than 150 public company CEOs and his representative corporate clients include: AT&T, Bank of America, Deloitte, EMC, Humana, IBM, JPMorgan Chase, McGraw-Hill, Merrill Lynch, PepsiCo, and other leading global brands. Mr. Myatt also frequently lectures and keynotes on the topic of leadership. If you're interested in contacting him, you can email him at info@n2growth.com, follow him on Twitter @MikeMyatt, or find more information on his company website at www.n2growth.com.

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“All leaders have blind spots which they aren't aware of and these results in gaps in leadership. While not all gaps will have a major impact on how you function as a leader, some do and so it's important to know how to identify these and become aware of self imposed limitations and perceptual biases that you may have.”
The Economic Times

"As the world becomes increasingly complex and business owners face more pressures than ever before, leadership advice hasn’t really changed. That’s why Mike Myatt, a leadership advisor to Fortune 500 CEOs and author of new book “Hacking Leadership,” set out to provide shortcuts that would simplify the complexities of building a successful business."
Business Insider

“The essence of Mike Myatt’s definition of hacking: one who discovers alternative paths to ‘deciphering complexity, influencing outcomes, acquiring access and creating innovative customizations to existing/outdated methodologies.’ Hmm — that sounds like the key components of leadership. In the book, which is subtitled The 11 Gaps Every Business Needs to Close and the Secrets to Closing Them Quickly, the ‘Leadership Gap’ is the most important because it helps close the gaps of the other 10.”
Dallas News

“I love this book! Mike Myatt hooked me at the Prologue and had me engaged until the end. Hacking Leadership is insightful, stimulating, and entertaining—rich in wisdom and long on practicality. It has so many golden nuggets of learning that I know I'll return to it often for expert advice and counsel. Besides that, it’s just plain fun to read. My nomination for the short list of best business books of the year.”
Jim Kouzes, coauthor of The Leadership Challenge and Executive Fellow of Leadership, Leavey School of Business, Santa Clara University

“Mike Myatt's 'Hacking Leadership' is a must read... Mike combines insightful yet practical commentary with in the trenches leadership experience few can match. I would highly recommend this text to anyone looking to become a better leader."
Vijay Govindarajan, Professor at Tuck at Dartmouth and the author of NYT bestseller Reverse Innovation

"Mike Myatt's Hacking Leadership could well be the leadership book for our time, practical, plain speaking, robust and of the moment."
Stuart Crainer, cofounder of Thinkers50

“Leveraging his accumulated wisdom as a highly regarded executive coach, Myatt has beautifully moved to the far side of complexity of today's leadership challenge with simple, direct, timely and proven guidance for lifting every leader's ability to contribute and advance.  A must read for the aspiring leaders of today and tomorrow.”
Douglas R. Conant, Chairman Avon Products, Chairman Kellogg Executive Leadership Institute at Northwestern University, Former President, CEO and Director of Campbell Soup Company

“Hacking Leadership merits a place on every 21st century leader’s short list of must-read books. Written from the heart and the mind of the renowned leadership expert Mike Myatt, this remarkable manual for action will inspire you to your greatest leadership contribution in your work and life.”
James Strock, author, Serve to Lead, Theodore Roosevelt On Leadership, Reagan On Leadership, Former George H.W. Bush appointee as chief law enforcement officer for the U.S. EPA

"Hacking Leadership is a thought-provoking, status quo shattering jolt of leadership wisdom that can propel anyone in the direction of their full leadership potential. At a time when scores of people are content settling for What Is, Mike challenges us to ask ourselves, What If? Instead of simply writing another book on leadership, he's penned a powerfully persuasive narrative that reminds us the only limits to our leadership are those we impose on ourselves. Hacking Leadership is a must read for everyone!"
Brigadier General John E. Michel, Commanding General NATO Air Training Command-Afghanistan and author of (No More) Mediocre Me: How Saying No to The Status Quo Will Propel You From Ordinary to Extraordinary

“The ideas in Mike Myatt's Hacking Leadership will challenge you—but they are achievable and waiting for you to put them into action. Read this book, apply its concepts, and prepare to move light-years ahead in your leadership journey.”
Ken Blanchard, coauthor of The One Minute Manager® and TrustWorks!

“Every leader I know, including myself, has leadership gaps, and all of us need a resource and framework for not only identifying the gaps, but also a practical roadmap to help close those gaps. Hacking Leadership is an essential tool for every leader to have in their toolbox for working on their own leadership, and thus improving the team and overall organization. Mike reminds us all to not settle for the status quo, and the important role each of us have to be the change we seek. True leaders do something about it, and are willing to mix things up and hack away at their leadership, with the constant pursuit of excellence, and thus their true leadership potential.”
Brad Lomenick, President and key visionary, Catalyst, Author, The Catalyst Leader

“Mike's insights are logical, entertaining and well outlined.  Deep experience with a myriad of leaders enables him to understand the landscape, and his passionate pursuit of innovation lets him crack it open.  Hacking Leadership is a fresh take on what it means to be an effective leader and take action.”
Thomas X. Geisel - CEO, Sun Bancorp, Inc.

“Tremendous! Mike Myatt has written a superb book on leadership that is exceptionally timely and relevant for our world today.  This book is both deeply insightful as well as intensely practical—a rare combination. I will highly recommend Hacking Leadership to leaders everywhere, at every level, and in all walks of life.”
Stephen M. R. Covey, author of The New York Times and #1 Wall Street Journal bestseller, The Speed of Trust, and coauthor of Smart Trust

"Great leaders are aware of gaps and blind spots in their organizations, teams, and lives. Learn the secrets of great leaders when you read Mike Myatt’s Hacking Leadership!"
Marshall Goldsmith – 2 million-selling author of the New York Times bestsellers, MOJO and What Got You Here Won't Get You There

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Press Release

January 14, 2014
HACKING LEADERSHIP: The 11 Gaps Every Business Needs to Close and The Secrets to Closing Them Quickly

Hacking Leadership

The 11 Gaps Every Business Needs to Close

And The Secrets to Closing Them Quickly


Mike Myatt

CEO of N2Growth & Forbes Leadership Columnist 

“Hacking Leadership is a thought-provoking, shattering jolt of leadership wisdom that can propel anyone in the direction of their full leadership potential.”

General John E. Michel, Commanding General,

NATO Air Training Command-Afghanistan 

“Nothing impacts our world like leadership,” says internationally acclaimed author Mike Myatt in his latest book, HACKING LEADERSHIP: The 11 Gaps Every Business Needs to Close and The Secrets to Closing Them Quickly (Wiley, December 2013, $29.95USD hardcover, eBook also available). Poor leadership cripples businesses, ruins economies, destroys families, loses wars and can bring the demise of nations. Unfortunately, today’s leadership practices are too often inadequate to meet the challenges of the 21st century.  What must leaders do today to be successful tomorrow?

HACKING LEADERSHIP shows leaders how to bring their leadership skills up to speed to meet those challenges by helping them identify weaknesses or gaps in their leadership skills and thereby empowering them to achieve their true leadership potential.

Hacking leadership means helping leaders to discard ineffective or outdated leadership principles; to identify their blind spots and weaknesses, the gaps that hold them back from maximal achievement; to close those gaps by discovering innovative ways to accomplish goals; and to close the gap between who they are now and who they can be in the future. HACKING LEADERSHIP offers a fresh perspective that will make it easy for leaders to create a roadmap to identify, refine, develop and achieve their true leadership capabilities.

Core leadership principles need not be abandoned. They are still as valid as ever. But they must be transformed to close the gap between perception and reality, between intentions and outcomes. Myatt gives readers the tools—the hacks—to do just that.

Myatt sets forth eleven leadership gaps, which if not properly identified, understood and addressed can be fatal not only to leaders but to those whom they lead. Among them are:

  • The Leadership Gap: Leadership isn’t just a role or a title. It’s a choice. With principled effective leadership, all things are possible. The best leaders understand leadership is the key to unlocking and realizing limitless potential. The only limits are the ones you submit to. Discover the three critical leadership gaps you must be aware of and how to remedy them.
  • The Purpose Gap: Great leaders have a clearly defined purpose, while average leaders just show up for work. Purpose fuels passion, which creates focus and in turn fuels high performance. The secret sauce to purpose is found in a leader’s ability to scale personal and professional purpose into a cause embraced and evangelized by others.
  • The Mediocrity Gap: The best leaders don’t play it safe they don’t look the other way when something is wrong, and they don’t compromise on values. They do the right thing. Doing the right thing means never settling for mediocrity.
  • The Culture Gap: A company’s corporate culture is its heart and soul. It must be part of the ethos that describes why the enterprise exists, what and who it values, and how it will behave.
  • The Knowledge Gap: When it comes to leadership, knowledge isn’t about being right. It’s about achieving the right outcomes. Great leaders keep their egos in check and do whatever they must to ensure that their organization has ability to access information and convert that information into successful outcomes.
  • The Talent Gap: Recruiting talent is one thing, strategically deploying talent is quite another. If leaders spent less time trying to retain people, and more time trying to understand them, care for them, invest in them, and lead them well, the retention problem would take care of itself.
  • The Innovation Gap: If your organization doesn’t innovate in response to market-driven needs and demands, it will fail. It’s just that simple. Leaders who don’t know how to hack the innovation gap put their organizations on the fast track to obsolescence.

HACKING LEADERSHIP will help leaders understand how to hack not only these gaps but also other blind spots such as dealing with organizational complexity, fear of failure, and making sure expectations are understood and met. Myatt also devotes a chapter on the importance of hacking your family life. Career successes you have, while nice, are fleeting and don’t even begin to compare to the significance of those who build into your life on a regular and consistent basis. If you cheat your family to invest in your career, your loved ones will pay a very heavy price.

Leadership is frequently nothing more than identifying personal, team, organization, and market blind spots and the dealing with them in the most effect fashion. Smart leaders proactively seek out blind spots or gaps in an effort to bridge, close, fill, jump or navigate around them. The better you become at hacking the gaps, turning the gaps into opportunities, the better leader you’ll become. The day you stop hacking leadership is the day you stop leading. Good luck and good hacking.


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