By Janice Malone

To Lead Others, You Must First Lead Yourself. It’s a statement many have heard but it’s lot easier said than done. But NY Times Best-Selling author Stedman Graham’s latest book breaks this classic piece of wisdom down into easy to follow steps in his latest book Identity Leadership. The book offers a no-nonsense approach that almost anyone can apply to their own lives when it comes to finding the pathway to successful leadership. 

Identity Leadership by Stedman Graham is a very personal and prescriptive guide that is based on the philosophy that you can’t lead others until you can first lead yourself—the more you work on yourself, the more you can give to those around you. To know our purpose in life, we begin with our passions, skills, and talents, and with this book we learn how to channel the best of who we are to achieve success for ourselves and those we lead.  The book has already extended over into its own workshop—”The Identity Leadership Nine-Step Success Process.” The workshop provides the tools and the groundwork for discovery and development towards becoming successful leadership and personal growth. “This book is a combination of the best work I’ve done over the last several years. It puts it altogether in a way that’s scalable. I can brand it anywhere in the world,” he shared recently by phone from his office in Chicago. Here, Stedman shares even more insight about his latest book, along with tips on becoming a more effective leader. 

QUESTION: How important is it for you if the book makes the NY Times Best Seller list?

GRAHAM: “If it makes the list, that’s great but even if it doesn’t it’s ok. I just love the work of helping to transform how people think about themselves. I want to help let them understand there’s a process when it comes to success but if you don’t know the process it can be very difficult to improve your life. I just so enjoy teaching people that… I would like to set up a system for the schools, whereby we would make it relevant for anyone on any level, to be able to eliminate the labels. You know, the racial labels, gender labels, class labels. And all these various labels that hold people back. So, if you can do this, then that’s a gift. I appreciate the opportunity to be able to share that process and philosophy through this book, the workshops and speaking engagements.”

QUESTION: What are some leadership traits that you’ve learned from Oprah? 

GRAHAM: “One of the many things I’ve learned from her is that she focuses on things that she cares about and loves to do. She’s very authentic in that.  You know she often tells the story on how she was raised. Oprah came from a real tough background. But what she’s saying is that once you understand it, the process for success is the same for everybody. It’s finding out who you are, which is a real key and to be able to stay on track, based on who you are and to be able to stay organized based on everything that’s relevant to who you are…In Oprah’s case, she discovered what she does well, she developed her expertise around it, practiced it and became good at it all.”

QUESTION: Chapter five in your book is titled OPRAH: A TRUE IDENTITY LEADER. What does Oprah think about having a chapter in your book?

GRAHAM: “She didn’t know until after she read it…I don’t put her in my books, and I don’t usually talk about her much in my work. But I couldn’t write this book without including her because I’ve watched her throughout the years. I’ve learned so much from her on how to really create a successful life. So, since I was writing a book on identity leadership, Oprah had to be included in the book, along with others.”

QUESTION: How important is it to have a good, strong and stable relationship/marriage, when it comes to leadership?

 GRAHAM: “Hopefully, you can have a good partner. One of the worst things is to have is a partner that’s trying to drag you down. A partner that’s not encouraging. Or a partner who’s jealous, who doesn’t have their own opportunities and they’re mad at you because you’ve got yours…As a leader, you need to have the ability to build very strong relationships. Know your own identity. That’s important. You’ve got to be able to feel good about yourself because you can’t love another person if you first don’t love yourself.”