Review: The Leadership Code: Five Rules to Lead By

The Leadership Code: Five Rules to Lead By by Dave Ulrich, Norm Smallwood, and Kate Sweetman is one of the books I’ve been working my way through in preparation for building a leadership pipeline.

Referenced in the construct section of Designed to Lead*, The Leadership Code provides a number of very helpful insights that will help in designing a leadership pipeline and pathway.

At the foundation level of the book is this insight: “The leadership code…provides both structure and guidance and helps you know not only what to do to be a better individual leader, but also how to build better leadership capability (p. 3).”

To identify the code, the authors mined a “vast, well-researched body of knowledge painstakingly accumulated by multiple generations of leadership experts and organizational behaviorists.” Their goal was to “identify an underlying framework of knowledge, skills and values common to all effective leaders (p. 5).”

The five rules of leadership (along with the role played and the strength required) were identified as:

  1. Shape the Future: Strategist (answering the question: “Where are we going?”)
  2. Make Things Happen: Executor (answering the question: “How will we make sure we get to where we are going?”)
  3. Engage Today’s Talent: Talent Manager (answering the question: “Who goes with us on our business journey?”)
  4. Build the Next Generation: Human Capital Developer (answering the question, “Who stays and sustains the organization for the next generation?”)
  5. Invest in Yourself: Personal Proficiency (answering the question: “What personal changes must happen in myself before calling others to change?”)

An aspect of The Leadership Code that I really appreciated is that each rule and strength is thoroughly explained (along with the competencies required) in its own chapter. Because identifying the competencies required is an essential step in building a leadership pipeline and pathway, these chapters are goldmines!

The last chapter alone was worth the price of the book! Boiling down insights about competencies, the last chapter is all about “using all of the elements of the code to build better leadership and to be a better leader.” A key form was included that will no doubt be put to use in developing the competencies that become important aspects of our pipeline.

If you’re on the mission of building a leadership pipeline and pathway, The Leadership Code needs to be part of your study plan. I highly recommend it!

*Read my full review of Designed to Lead here.

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