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10.28.11

No Fear of Failure

Leadership
Gary Burnison, CEO of Korn/Ferry International, shares one-on-one conversations with a dozen successful leaders in No Fear of Failure. He found a common theme in these conversations: they each “exhibited tremendous courage around the possibility, and even the inevitability at times, of failure. In the face of uncertainty, they draw on an inner strength that allows them to strive for what is possible rather than become paralyzed by the risk of failure.”

Indra Nooyi, chairman and CEO of PepsiCo, on Learning: “The one thing I have learned as a CEO is that leadership at various levels is vastly different….As you move up the organization, the requirements for leading that organization doesn’t grow vertically; they grow exponentially….If you want to improve the organization, you have to improve yourself and the organization gets pulled up with you….Just because you are a CEO, don’t think you have landed. You must continually increase your learning, the way you think, and the way you approach the organization.”

Vicente Fox, former president of Mexico, on Humility: “The higher leaders rise, the further they move from where they began. The danger is that success will undermine their humility, leaving them out of touch and disconnected….There are so many temptations that would undermine your humility. You have to develop that part, work on it all your life. It’s easy to fall on the other side, especially when you are in power and have a position.”

Daniel Vasella, MD, chairman of Novartis AG on Stewardship: A vineyard owner pointed to a stone wall and explained how his grandfather had started building it and then his father added to it as did he. Vasella “found this to be a fascinating analogy. It’s like no great cathedral was build in one generation. There are several implications. First, you’re not here to take advantage but rather to add. Second, you will not finish. Third, it is very important that the overall vision of what is being built be shared by several people over time.”

Coach John McKissick, the “winningest” coach in football on Coaching: “I don’t coach football, I coach kids.” His code is “to live clean, think clean, and stop doing all the things that will destroy them physically, mentally, and morally, and to start doing things that will make them cleaner, finer, and more competent. That’s not a sacrifice. I tell them that all the time. ‘I’m helping you be a better person and a better player.’”

One of the most important leadership lessons Burnison learned in his career was that “leadership is all about the other person. No matter the topic—whether someone is being fired or has just told you about a serious health issue—that person should leave your office feeling better than when he or she entered.… For the CEO there is no off-the-cuff remark. Leadership demands introspection and an understanding of the clout that one’s words and actions carry.”

The conversations Burnison shares will influence your leadership in profound ways. As leaders, we need to keep learning. It’s key to our success. It’s sad how many leaders do not actively pursue their own leadership development. This book will help.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:49 AM
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"Just because you are the CEO, don't think you've landed."

Priceless and so very true!

This is great advice, all from really different characters.

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