What One Man Learnt from Interviewing 138 Leaders Across 5 Continents & 21 Countries

Categories: Entrepreneurship

When Daniel Lee left his corporate job in his late 30s, he had one goal, to answer a question that had plagued him for years. It was a simple question, but one that was profound – what is personal leadership? 

The question first occurred to Daniel when his former manager approached him to discuss his personal leadership. At the time, Daniel was confused as he believed that he was already doing a stellar job fulfilling all his responsibilities efficiently.

After leaving the corporate world, Daniel spent the next couple of years searching for answers to satisfy his curiosity. His quest for answers brought him further than he anticipated, all over the world and to the doorsteps of 138 leaders (at the time of our interview). 

Through these interviews, Daniel shares that the best way to determine the quality of a leader is to “see how people walk away after speaking with [them]”. Simply put, a good leader can be discerned through the influence they have on their team members. 

Today, Daniel is writing a book called First Time Leadership in the hopes of sharing the knowledge he has gleaned through meeting leaders of all kinds. Specifically, Daniel is passionate about helping ordinary workers become aware of what it truly takes to become a leader for the first time.

According to Daniel, many first-time leaders fall into the trap of wanting to prove their capabilities. They have a strong desire to deliver stellar results and are over-eager in doing so, rushing the process as a result. Consequently, they place these same unattainable, sky-high expectations upon their team, often leading to disastrous results. 

Instead of trying to impose their own expectations on others, Daniel urges first time leaders to instead “treat others like how they want to be treated”. Being a leader is about providing your teammates with the best possible environment for them to perform. 

Daniel’s desire for helping ordinary employees transform into first time leaders is clear; he enthusiastically recounts the successes and failures of leaders he has interviewed, sharing with us the learning points behind these stories with little prompting from us. 

As someone who has lived vicariously through the experience of 138 leaders, Daniel’s upcoming book promises to be a treasure trove of lessons from leaders of every walk of life.


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