I’ve always believed leadership exists to disrupt mediocrity, but I’m afraid in recent times many leaders are losing that battle. Somewhere along the way, they threw in the towel and settled for a weak-kneed, watered-down version of leadership – they have rationalized and justified themselves into an acceptance of mediocrity.

The sad reality is that in many cases, the education, training, and development leaders receive today is woefully inadequate. We are producing analysts and risk managers and labeling them as leaders. We’ve taught them to be practical, analytical, and risk-averse, but have failed to equip them to lead.

Too many leaders look alike, think alike, and act alike. It’s almost as if courageous leadership has been bled out of many of those holding positions of leadership. Great numbers of leaders seem to have wandered off course and are badly in need of a road map to help them regain their bearing. I have recently authored a new book, Hacking Leadership (Wiley), which is being released next Monday (12/16). It’s my hope this book will serve as just that road map.

Today’s column will not only provide you with a brief overview of my book, but I’m hopeful it may rekindle a spark still flickering somewhere deep down inside you – that it will cause you to reexamine your definition of truly remarkable leadership. Whether you read the book or not is up to you, but if we don’t start viewing leadership through an altogether different lens I can guarantee you won’t like the outcome.

So, what is hacking leadership? It’s a framework for thinking, acting, and leading differently. It challenges conventional leadership constructs and offers insights on why what we’ve been duped into referring to as leadership is actually very far from the real thing. The thought is to use adaptive, applied, and creative thinking combined with enhanced problem-solving skills to become a more skilled leader. To become more self-aware as a leader, to more rapidly identify blind spots, and to close critical gaps keeping you, your team, and your organization from reaching your leadership potential.

In my book I define hacking as follows:

Hacking [hak-ing] – present participle of hack (verb) to discover an alternate path, clever and skillful tricks, shortcuts and workarounds, breaking the code, deciphering complexity, influencing outcomes, acquiring access, and creating innovative customizations to existing/outdated methodologies.

While there are many things that can cause a leader to fail themselves and those they lead, I’ve identified 11 critical leadership gaps and blind spots, which if not identified, understood, and addressed can be fatal to both leaders and their organizations. While entertaining, what they teach you in business school, and what you read in most books is radically different than what you experience in real life – is it not?

As the world continues to evolve, so must our leadership acumen. Real leaders must learn to hack time-tested leadership principles to make them more relevant, practical, and effective. Leaders must stop holding on to false truths held as real, and lead in new and different ways. Leaders must spend more time exploring what they don’t know rather than waxing eloquent about what they do know. They must seek out diverse and even dissenting opinions in search of what’s right rather than being concerned about who gets the credit for being right.

The bottom line is this – the principles contained in Hacking Leadership will not only challenge your current perceptions and beliefs, but they will provide you with an actionable road map to becoming a better, more engaged, more relevant leader. Here’s a brief excerpt from the book:

“Leadership means many things to many people. And not all forms of leadership are created equal. Leadership can represent a pursuit, discipline, practice, passion, skill, competency, obligation, or duty. Leadership driven by any of these constructs can be effective, but where leadership really gets interesting is when it combines all of these traits to become purpose-driven. The best leaders understand the critical importance of transforming personal values into a greater sense of purpose. It is only at the point where leaders become committed to the purpose that they’re able to surrender to it and let purpose guide their approach to leadership. It’s often this revelation that transforms leaders in title only into passionate purpose-driven leaders.”

So, my question is this: are you ready to challenge your own leadership beliefs to discover whether or not they’re serving you as well as you think? If you are, you might want to pick up a copy of Hacking Leadership.