Monday, February 25, 2013

Leadership Conversations

 I am just back from travel.  Too long of a story.  Suffice it to say - major delays, more expense and basically a lot of hassle. 

Interesting that while on the flight, I read a book called Empathetic Marketing that talks about empathizing with your customers.  One core emotional need they talk about is control and why this is such a frustration for travelers.  Much of the travel experience is not in our control.  Line up to get tickets, line up to make changes (or wait on hold), line up for security.  Hope to get space in the overhead bin for luggage.  All to be flown in a plane with no control. 

What I do like about travel is the reading time. 

I read a great book on transitioning from manager to leader called Leadership Conversations - Challenging High-Potential Managers to Become Great Leaders by Alan Berson and Richard Stieglitz.

I did not like the title and thought it did not do justice to the book.  It is more about "Becoming a Great Leader".  They weave in the conversations part by talking about the different conversations great leaders need to have.

It starts early on with a list of 10 ways to Practice Great Leadership Conversations including:

1 - Know your people (and I know this one can be difficult if you get a lot of new people at once)
2 - Invest in people
7 - Set priorities
9 - Mentor and coach
10 - Set expectations.

I also liked their discussion of "leadership rules" like "people skills trump technical skills" and "be clear about your values".

I particularly liked chapter 15 on Recognition - Making it all Worthwhile.  The chapter talks about how high self esteem people do a much better job than low self esteem people.  And it talks of ways to create that (without false praise).

I view business life as a continuum from doer to manager to leader and see all of us with a bit of each of these.  I know in my career, it was not clear cut if I ever transitioned from one to the next.  This is partly because I started from nothing so did everything myself then got some staff, then more, then more until eventually, the only way to get anything done effectively was to try to lead rather than just do.

It is one of the best books I have read in a long time.  I highly recommend if for anyone who works a a manager who is moved into a new position of leadership.


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