Donna Lichaw is a unique individual with a unique perspective. With two film degrees, a history of product leadership, and an intense love of superheroes, Lichaw’s resume is one of the most eclectic descriptions of humanity one is likely to encounter.
And thank goodness for that.
Lichaw is not the sort to lean on traditional methods or ways of thinking to improve a person. Lichaw’s diverse range of interests and experiences have melted together to create an entirely new sort of leader. One who is prone to shattering stagnation and enabling those she mentors to actualize themselves.
With the upcoming release of her new book The Leader’s Journey, Lichaw was kind enough to speak with Content Science about her journey from product leadership to human leadership, how to establish a quality corporate culture, and just how emphatically she believes everyone can be a superhero.
Lichaw’s first experience with helping develop leaders was through start-ups. After earning two film degrees, Lichaw had developed a healthy appreciation for the importance of story.
“Story is one of the most powerful ways for humans to engage in the world around us,” Lichaw tells us.
With an appreciation for story and a wealth of knowledge about story structure, Lichaw moved to product leadership. As a consultant for products, Lichaw encouraged CEOs and other leaders to put themselves in the shoes of their clients.
“It’s all about the story of how people think about products, the story of how they find the product, how people convert.”
And Lichaw’s methods soon bore fruit. Lichaw cut her teeth in the tech industry, an industry historically dependent on raw data and details. Her success derived from encouraging leaders to consider the human side of things.
Lichaw explained in some detail how she started noticing issues with the corporate cultures of these environments. Leaders were insecure and sometimes oblivious to repercussions of things as innocuous as sending an email late at night. Stale and outdated opinions about conducting business abounded.
It was while working in product leadership that Lichaw developed a deep understanding of leadership itself. Between a deep capacity for empathy and an even deeper appreciation for people’s stories, Lichaw evolved from consulting on product leadership to aiding leaders in realizing their true potential.
“If you want to be a great leader, you’re probably already doing it,” she explains. “You pave the path that already exists.”
She explains that many of the leaders she has helped over the years knew they needed to undergo a personal transformation, they just didn’t know how or in what direction to change.
This leads us to the true essence of her method: unlocking your superpower.
The process of improving a leader isn’t about adding some ethical bells and whistles or educating them on modern business practices. It’s about, as she puts it, “Unlocking and leveraging your superpower.”
Lichaw’s method of leadership improvement revolves around the idea that most leaders are not reaching their true potential, which can have a costly impact on a business’s bottom line. She is a firm believer that everyone has a superpower, something that they can do exceptionally well, they just have to realize what it is and nurture its development.
“It’s important for leaders to feel like heroes.” A phrase that she said again and again during our discussion. But the repetition is important because it’s also 100% true.
In her experience, many of the issues within a company occurred because leaders didn’t have the confidence and self-actualization required to be their best selves and, therefore, the best leaders they could be. Quality leadership comes from a place of empathy and confidence, neither of which are possible without leaders becoming their best selves.
In short: fake it till you make it will only get you so far.
Her method for developing quality leadership has paid dividends for the people she works with. Lichaw’s unique ability to break corporate leadership of outdated ideas and methods has paved the way for many wonderful, effective forms of leadership to rise from the ashes.
And now, she wants to share her experiences and knowledge with the world through her new book.
The Leader’s Journey is essentially a summary of Lichaw’s experience, written by Lichaw herself. While that alone is extremely valuable, the book also deep dives into the various issues so many workers face today.
Internal bickering, changing goals, high turnover and burnout, all of these are issues Lichaw addresses. And with years of experience spanning pre-Covid, Covid, and post-Covid management, she has seen the best and worst leadership has to offer.
Lichaw offers a guide to both leaders and followers on the importance of quality leadership and how it enables extraordinary things to happen.
Pre-order her book here.
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