5 Leadership Lessons: How to Lead a Fierce Competitor Company
How to be a Fierce Competitor by Jeffrey Fox offers some important reminders for business leaders. Although fierce competitor companies are in a word “flawless,” don’t let that intimidate you from reading this book. Every chapter has valuable, actionable advice. Not surprisingly, Fox has pieced together examples from an assortment of companies (not your run-of-mill examples) to show “what you need to be doing, how you need to be thinking, and the risks you need to take” to be a company that does it right. The advice is directed at leaders, but it shouldn’t be taken to mean exclusively top management. Here are five lessons for leaders at all levels:
Leaders don’t push others they push themselves. “Great leaders will exhibit levels of confidence that exceeds levels of certainty….They lead the organization with confidence, even when uncertain. They are sometimes fearful but always fearless.” Field Marshall Rommel told his commanders: “Be an example to your men, in your duty and in private life. Let the troops see that you don’t spare yourself in your endurance of fatigue and privation. Always be tactful and well-mannered and teach your subordinates to do the same. Avoid excessive sharpness or harshness of voice, which usually indicates a man who has shortcomings to hide.”
“Kitchen cabinet” is a term from Andrews Jackson’s presidency. He formed an unofficial group of advisors that entered through the back door to maintain their privacy (and value to Jackson). “Leaders need people they can trust. They need people who can and will deliver the unvarnished truth, the organization scuttlebutt, reactions to ideas, solution suggestions. These people may be inside the organization or on the board, but most often they will be outsiders. These people are the leader’s ‘kitchen cabinet.’”
Keep your hand on the tiller. “Employees know when the captain, the leader, takes his or her hand off the tiller. They sense that the company, like a sailboat, is adrift, off course, in trouble. People in the company will face any storm. Employees are not stupid. They just want to know what they should do. They want to be led. They want certainty of purpose in the people in charge.”
“Control what you can control….Roll with that which is beyond your control….When it is raining, the Chinese have a roll-with-it expression: ‘Let it rain.’ You can’t control the rain. So roll with it. Let it rain. But you can control whether or not the company has umbrellas, raincoats, storm water catchment basins, levees.”
Never Forget the Third Shift. "The 'third shift' is a metaphor for those people and those groups of people who toil in relative anonymity in the organization. They may be the workers on the night shift; the scientists in distant labs, behind locked doors, working on the next breakthroughs; the customer service people dealing with problems and one irate customer after another; the field repair people fixing critical customer machinery on a weekend or holiday; the caregivers that empty bed pans. These people may not be omnipresent, but they are critical to the continuing success of the company. Great managers recognize such people, give them credit, give sincere thank-yous."
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