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5 Leadership Lessons: Fierce Leadership

5 Leadership Lessons

Fierce Leadership by Susan Scott is a remarkable leadership book for its candor and practicality. She gets to the heart of many relationship issues that prevent us from really connecting with others and limit our performance.

Though the title may seem provocative, the term fierce refers to the type of leadership that engages and connects with people at a deep level. The fierce leaders’ most valuable currency is relationships and emotional capital. Scott writes, “Everywhere, people are hungry to connect, to be seen and known as the unique individuals they are, and this has an immediate and powerful impact on how we design business strategies and market our products and services and ultimately on whether our businesses succeed or fail. Yet much business communication is still stuck in the information age. Too often we treat our conversations and our relationships as we do our e-mails—one way, directive, quick, clipped, efficient.”

Scott suggests another approach to some widely accepted "best practices" moving for instance, from 360 Anonymous Feedback — to 365 Face-to-Face Feedback. The goal here is to have “open, honest, face-to-face conversations, 365 days a year, with the people central to your success and happiness…. When we stay current with one another, our formal performance reviews will contain few, if any, surprises.”

She also suggests a change in emphasis from Hiring for Smarts — to Hiring for Smarts and Emotional Intelligence, from Holding People Accountable — to Modeling Accountability and Holding People Able, from Employee Engagement Programs — to Real Engagement, from Client Centricity — to Client Connectivity, and from Legislated Optimism — to Radical Transparency. The exercises at the end of each chapter are designed to help you implement these ideas in your own leadership role and have been well thought out.

Some leadership lessons:

1  A careful conversation is a failed conversation because it merely postpones the conversation that wants and needs to take place.

2  What argument am I waging? Are you waging? What are we trying to be right about? The question is not whether our beliefs are right or wrong. We can tell the stories, point to the evidence, build an impressive case. You’re right! Who could possibly argue with the facts? The question is, how are your beliefs working for you?

3  John Doerr said, “The moment of truth is when you ask, ‘Are these the people I want to be in trouble with for the next five, ten, fifteen years of my life?’ Because as you build a business, one thing’s for sure: You’ll get in trouble.”

4  In meetings, people stubbornly cling to their ideas (sometimes at length!) in an attempt to impress others with the brilliance of their thinking. Their goal is to influence. It does not occur to them that an equally valid goal would be to be influenced, to have their own learning provoked. Nothing new emerges, because individuals are focused on being right rather than on making the best possible decisions for the organization.

5  The culture is not some nebulous and mysterious force out there somewhere. You are the culture. I am the culture. And each of us shapes that culture each time we walk into a room, pick up the phone, send an e-mail. Fierce leaders know that they influence the culture one conversation at a time, responding honestly or guardedly when asked what they think.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:16 AM
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