Alchemy began as a medieval quest for an elixir that would turn copper, lead and other base metals to gold. Since, silver and other precious metals were the currency of the time, it was the same concept as printing money in today’s vernacular (minus the threat of inflation, mind you). The quest for qualified alchemists became serious business during this time.

How great would it be, as a business, if you could legally print money without fear of jail or inflation? Would you do it? I know I would. The reality is, you do have this option. You may not see it because your perspective isn’t where it needs to be. It all starts and ends with leadership. If you learn how to be a leadership alchemist, you will begin to see gold in places that use to seem ordinary and common.

The magic elixir in leadership alchemy is value. Not value as a noun, but value as a verb. We typically don’t have a problem valuing things, especially if it was our money that bought them. Where we tend to drop the ball is when we need to value people. It’s strange that the thing we crave most from others, to feel valued, we pretty much suck at providing for others. Feeling valued is a basic human need and ignoring this is ignoring someone’s humanity.

There are the people in our organizations that seem like rock stars. We don’t have a problem valuing them because we can measure the amount of money they helped us make. In case you didn’t notice what takes place here, we are choosing to value people based on what they can provide for us not for who they are. That’s all backwards.

The alchemy part comes in when we look at the ordinary, common, and plain (the not-so-happening rock stars) and give them the same value. Giving someone value does not equate to abolishing accountability, so lose that lame argument already. When people feel valued, their best becomes better. Their loyalty sky rockets. Their sense of dedication and willingness to go that extra mile explodes. They become more productive. This is you printing money… practicing leadership alchemy.

Where are some areas in your leadership that you can begin expressing more value? In what ways can you transition value from being a noun to a verb in your world? Don’t just do it at work. Value your partner or spouse. Value your kids. Value your neighbors and friends. The amount of wealth you will be creating for yourself will rival that of kings. Leadership is a lifestyle, not a work skill.

So tell me. What are the things you value in your world?

  • Steve G

    William –
    Excellent post. Your thoughts on “VALUE” – more importantly, how we see value in people are right on! “We typically don’t have a problem valuing things, especially if it was our money that bought them. Where we tend to drop the ball is when we need to value people.”

    The problem I see with some leadership is that we tend to value the ROCK STARS because they provide the flash – the headlines. We can all pose in the lights and the accolades. The real work is with the “ordinary”people and that’s where real leadership kicks in. Bringing out the potential in somebody – showing confidence in someone’s ability when they might not have confidence in themselves – taking the time to work with them. For some leaders, it’s all about instant gratification, so they can move on. I witnessed it first hand, when a sales manager road the coattails of an account executive who had the hot hand, and was making things happen. Closing big deals, bringing in new business – making the manager look real good. The sales manager was right behind them all the way…until…the sales rep started to slide, had a couple of bad weeks, and the next thing you know…the sales manager was throwing that person to the wolves.

    As you stated, giving value to someone doesn’t mean you lose accountability – showing you value someone actually builds accountability – now that you have demonstrated a person has value, is when the heat is on!

    Great read – Great ending – Leadership is a lifestyle, not a work skill. (Mind if I use it?)

    Thanks Leadership Advisor. Keep the posts coming!


  • Thanks for sharing your experience around this topic. Sales is a very common place where this happens in leadership.


  • Lead to Gold. Pretty simple message in both contexts of the word. 🙂


  • Absolutely Brian. Leading well makes gold for sure. Thanks for contributing!


  • William:
    As I have already entered my 4th quarter century on the planet, and have spent a good most of those years in music and in books, it is strange to admit to you that the entire field of “leadership” is absolutely fresh terrain. I find it exciting to be participating in the outreaching communications available to us via twitter and blogposts and to looking forward to learning more about how to lead better, lead quieter, lead more profoundly, lead toward something light and fresh and harmonious…
    Thank you for your post, which all pointed to the central tone of value – the human person –

  • Your honesty is refreshing Wayne. Good for you for delving into something new and practically showing us that learning doesn’t stop as long as you’re living. Glad you picked up on the tone of valuing the human person. Thanks for your contribution my friend!