Instead of merely telling you to do one thing or another, I’ll show you what I––and others around me––did. Heretics to Heroes will transform the way you lead by illustrating fundamental principles of great leadership. Here are three of the lessons you’ll learn:
- Respect is a two-way street.
In order to gain the respect of followers and colleagues––a prerequisite for creating exceptional performance together––you must respect them first. Respect is not solely exercised face-to-face. Real respect for others changes the decisions you make and the way you speak about them when they’re not in the room, as well as how you address them.
I learned a lot about respect from an early manager of mine named Jake. Here is an excerpt from Heretics to Heroes that capture’s Jake’s character and counter-cultural emphasis on respect:
“Down the hall from your office is a large wood and frosted glass door with a big, round union seal painted on it,” Jake said, leaning forward. “That door and that seal are over fifty years old. That’s the office of the union president and his officers. If you are as sharp as Bud tells me you are, you will walk through that door and get to know, understand, and respect those people. They’re the ones who really run this plant. It’s their people, not ours, who do the work around here. Behind that door, you’ll find some of the most committed and intelligent people you’ll ever meet. It may be hard for you to see it at first. It’ll be masked behind their bib overalls and profanity, but if you can look past all that, you’ll see they have the same concerns and potential as anyone.”
Jake paused for a moment, studying me as a father does a son.
“There will be those in this plant, possibly some of your counterparts on my staff, who will try to convince you otherwise,” he continued. “They will try to get you to see the union as our enemy, not our partner. They’ll tell you the union can’t be trusted and that our job is to defeat the union with whatever means required. I suggest you let those comments go in one ear and out the other. Instead of listening to that crap, get to know our people, and make up your own mind about them.”
Sometimes acting from a place of true respect calls for abandoning politics and protocol. On your hero journey, you’ll have to think for yourself.
- Leaders speak truth.
In the book, I share numerous anecdotes involving telling others what they don’t want to hear. But if you’re willing to be honest and open to others’ honesty, improvement that was once impossible will be within reach.
At a life-changing job as a performance coach in the Middle East, my ability to speak truth to power enabled results once dismissed as impossible. Here’s another excerpt from the book:
“Hank, I just shared my experiences at a camp for which two different managers are responsible: you and Kadomo-san. After hearing about the deplorable conditions, one manager took several minutes to compose himself and then said to me, ‘I am so ashamed.’ The other brought me into his office and is telling me about shopping for a Rolex watch. I think one of those managers has gotten so good at looking the other way, he can no longer see.”
I didn’t like saying those words to Hank, but I knew he was a wonderful person—too good for me not to open his eyes to who he was being. If it hadn’t been for Hank’s accepting Rob’s challenge at the investor’s meeting, I wouldn’t be standing in his office. However, I was his coach, and it was my responsibility to tell him the truth and help him see his blind spots, even if it hurt.
Coaches, if you’re unwilling to deliver critical assessments to your clients, you aren’t serving them well. CEOs and other senior leaders, if you’re unwilling to hear truth from your coach, you will not grow.
- Fear can make you stronger.
We all experience fear. We can choose how we confront it. In Heretics to Heroes, I relay a piece of advice my father once gave me:
“Fear is just the feeling you get when your body is preparing to do something really important. Instead of trying to resist that feeling, welcome it. See it as a curtain that, as you walk through, showers you with energy. Just step through the fear, move on, and you will do great.”
Use fear to prepare yourself for that intimidating exchange, big meeting, or crucial decision.
When you finish reading Heretics to Heroes, you’ll be a different person. You’ll view choices more clearly, understand interactions with others more completely, and ultimately, be able to use all you’ve gained to enroll followers and achieve exceptional business performance.
Heretics to Heroes is available now on Amazon. Are you All-In™?
(Photo by Josh Felise)