Heart of a Leader Speaks to Chamber Professionals

Dave Kilby

As I was doing some spring cleaning a few weeks ago, I came across a book, The Heart of a Leader by Ken Blanchard.
I was reminded of the Tom Peters’ quote “If I had one failing of CEOs, it’s they don’t read enough.”

So I decided to make the time to revisit Blanchard’s book and, although it was originally published nearly 20 years ago, I found many of the passages, advice and insights extremely relevant for today’s “busy” chamber professional.


Walk your talk: It is vital for an organization and its leadership to “walk their talk.” They must make every effort to become living symbols of their organization’s value system. Once core values have been set in place—identified, communicated and impacting behavior—they become the “boss.”

It’s more important to be respected than to be popular: Blanchard says if you think back to someone who got a great performance from you, more likely this was a leader who combined tough and nice. Are you willing to push your people beyond their comfort zone in order to achieve excellence? They might not like what you ask of them, but they will remember you as a leader they respected.

NOTE: For several decades, I have opined that it’s far better for your chamber of commerce to be respected than to be liked.

Winning coaches make their teams audible-ready: Can you, like a quarterback, make a snap decision to call an audible, a different play that has a better chance of success? There is nothing wrong with plans, policies or rules. The problem comes when people are told to implement them no matter what. Teach your people to bring their brains to work and be “audible-ready.”

Inquire within: Most of the significant advances in human history have come not from rushing around but from being still. They required periods of deep and rigorous contemplation and quiet time. There is no way to do silence wrong. The only thing “wrong” would be to not do it.

Never, Never, Never, Give Up.—Winston Churchill: If one quality epitomized Winston Churchill it was persistence. He never gave up. It was that attitude which inspired England in World War II when others might have surrendered. Persistence is sticking to your guns. It’s keeping your commitment and making your actions consistent with your word.

Your life is yours to design: Purpose has to do with one’s calling—deciding what business you are in as a person. Make it all it can be!

Dave Kilby is the president and CEO of W.A.C.E., and is executive vice president of corporate affairs at the California Chamber