Change the Game

It’s a quiet, lazy Saturday afternoon and no better time than to swallow the words of Abby Wamback in her punchy leadership book, ‘Wolfpack’.

Highly recommended recently by Brene Brown (who mentioned that she’d read it many times over) – I thought I’d delve into why Abby’s eight new rules of leadership were so compelling. And here they are:

  1. Create your own path
  2. Be grateful for what you have AND demand what you deserve
  3. Lead now – from wherever you are
  4. Failure means you’re FINALLY in the game
  5. Be FOR each other
  6. Believe in yourself. Demand the ball
  7. Lead with humanity. Cultivate Leaders
  8. You’re not alone. You’ve got your Pack

Abby became a champion because of her talent as a footballer (she was co-captain of the 2015 Women’s World Cup), and an icon because of her leadership wisdom and her call for women to claim their position as leaders in all fields.

In her view, having women missing from leadership ranks leaves a dangerous gap which leads to the unravelling of the whole leadership ‘system’.

She tells a story about wolves.

For 70 years, wolves were absent from Yellowstone National Park, and in 1995 rangers decided to reintroduce them because the land was in trouble.

In those 70 years, the balance of the land changed as the number of deer skyrocketed, and without being challenged by wolves, they grazed unchecked, destroying vast swathes of vegetation and eroding riverbanks.

According to this story, “Once a small number of wolves arrived, big changes started to happen almost immediately.The presence of the wolves drastically changed the behaviour of the remaining deer. Wisely, the deer started avoiding the placed they’d be most vulnerable to the wolves – the valleys – and the vegetation in those places regenerated. The height of the trees quintupled in just six years. Birds and beavers started moving in. The beavers built river dams, which provided habitats for otters and ducks and fish. The rivers actually changed as well. The plant regeneration stabilized the riverbanks, so they stopped collapsing. The rivers flowed freely again”.

This story highlights several key leadership themes of significance:

  • Systems are stronger when there is diversity in how we think, feel and act
  • Abby sees all women everywhere as the Wolfpack, and not having them represented at senior leaders leaves our organizations weakened
  • Championing each other is vital – when a leader does ‘score a goal’, and experience success, they “better start pointing” at all the other people who helped them to get to that point. It’s a collective and shared effort
  • Abby believes that women are yet to access the ‘power of failure’, and at worst see failure as proof that they are unworthy imposters. “Men have been allowed to fail and keep going forever – it’s time for imperfect women to grant themselves permission to join them”

“It’s time to start using failure as fuel”

Failure should be seen as the igniter of new opportunity

Abby’s definition of leadership is inspiring.

In her words,: “Leadership is volunteering at the local school, speaking encouraging words to a friend, and holding the hand of a dying parent. It’s the blood that runs through your vein – it’s born in you.  It’s not the privilege of a few – it’s the right and responsibility of all”.

I’m not a feminist, but I do believe that the world will be enriched when the Wolfpack are recognized equally for the valuable contribution they can make towards a more balanced, healthier system. And I like the sound of these eight new ‘leadership rules’, for us all.

Everyone reading this blog is a leader, and every day demands that you find courage and challenge the fears that drag you down into believing that you’re not worthy of stepping up and making a difference to the people who cross your path each day.

It’s time to Change the Game, and have every person involved.

We are ALL leaders, and we all have a voice. It’s time to “Believe in yourself and demand the ball”.

Love to hear from you with your thoughts, or maybe you would like coaching yourself so you too can believe in yourself more and demand the ball!

Cheers Alison