Dave McKeown

Entrepreneurs as Self-Evolved Leaders with Dave McKeown

Dave McKeown is the author of The Self-Evolved Leader and has spent his career coaching and consulting for entrepreneurs and C-level executives who are seeking greater leadership skills.

The Identification of Self Evolved Leadership

There are two camps of leaders that McKeown has identified. There are those who stumble into their leadership role due to their social skills or passion for an idea. Then there are those for whom leadership is a calling, and who desire to better themselves to figure out how to help their people. McKeown believes that as a leader, it is a choice and responsibility to grow and develop in your role.

What a Leader Should Not Do

From these camps of leadership, McKeown has identified two models through which we currently think about leadership. The first model is “leadership through certainty.” In this model, we expect the leader to know exactly where the company is headed. Often times companies will find that there are too many variables within an evolving industry to safely rely on this type of leadership.

The second model McKeown identified is an over-reliance on a visionary leader. He provides the example of Elon Musk, an individual that we look to transform the industry. This leader leads through acts of heroism, who emerges to save the day and fix the company’s issues. This model is a liability to any company, as it creates an overreliance on the leader and a helpless staff.

How to Stop an Overreliance on Leadership

McKeown wants leaders to escape these cycles that lead to an overreliance on leadership. The nature of the corporate world we live in is of inescapable urgency. This causes leaders to lead through acts of heroism. Leading in this way causes learned helplessness within your team because they know their boss will step in to help, fostering disempowerment and unsustainability.

The mindset of a leader must correct for this. McKeown has created a “self-evolved leader’s mantra to combat mediocrity.

  1. Focus on helping your team achieve your shared goals
  2. Allow your team to evolve into the best version of themselves

By abiding by this mantra, you leave no room for heroic leadership. This can help you be intentional about how you show up for your team. This intentionality requires a behavioral shift to leave behind the cycle of mediocrity. McKeown identifies three steps to make this transition.

Escaping Leadership Mediocrity

  1. Set a shared vision with your team
    • Learn to be quiet. There should be an aspect of co-creation behind the company’s vision.
      • A collective vision increases the likelihood of buy-in.
      • This makes difficult decisions easier when you are all following the same north star.
    • The statement should be living and breathing, it should continue to evolve and should be used in all aspects of the business.
  2. Build an “implementation pulse” so you know how to achieve your goals
    • Create a road map. Ask your team: What do we want to achieve in the next 12 months to get closer to our goal?
    • By sticking to the map, you can close the gap between an abstract vision and what you are doing in your day to day.
    • Create a quarterly review.
      • Each quarter, set goals for the new things you want to do.
      • Set it in the calendar: a non-negotiable meeting every 90 days.
      • This can help create shared accountability for a shared goal.
  3. Build a set of leadership disciplines
    • Leadership is defined by a set of hard skills and disciplines that you can utilize to become a self-evolved leader.
    • There are five key disciplines that can help you get from an ego to a hero
      1. Reclaim your attention
        • There is a whirlwind of what’s urgent in any business. Set clear priorities for your team to work with.
      2. Facilitate work within your team
        • Learn to delegate more effectively to your team in a way that allows them to grow and develop.
      3. Support your team to high performance
        • Create a collaborative environment.
        • Allow your team to come to you for advice, guidance, and support.
      4. Ability to have difficult conversations
        • Negative feedback honors your team. However, you need to learn to drain emotion from these conversations.
      5. Build shared accountability
        • As a leader, you’re not responsible for holding everyone accountable.
        • You need to set a space where if you’re not there the train will keep going.

Be a Self Evolved Leader

So how do you get started? Pick one of the five leadership disciplines and map out what that means for you. Begin to practice it in your daily interactions with your team. Then, find a framework for leadership that feels like it works for you. Structure a project in which you use this model, and be intentional about trying to adopt this new approach. This will help you start your journey to being a self-evolved leader.

If you’re interested to learn more about Dave McKeown’s strategies for being a self-evolved leader, sign up here.


Samantha Braffman

Samantha Braffman is a Philadelphia based writer for Global Leaders Organization. She is also an undergraduate student at the University of Pennsylvania, working towards a bachelor's degree in Political Science and English.

Comments are closed here.