Brian Tracy on Leadership: A book review by Bob Morris

Leadership (Tracy)Leadership
Brian Tracy
AMACOM (2014)

Great leaders possess and personify “the ability to elicit extraordinary performance from ordinary people.”

This is the latest volume added to The Brian Tracy Success Library. This far, the others are Motivation (Apr 16, 2013), Negotiation (Jun 19, 2013), and Time Management (January 20, 2014), all published by AMACOM. Tracy has written one or more books already that focus on these and other major business subjects. What he has now done with consummate skill is to condense the most valuable information, insights, and counsel within a 100-page volume, in this instance the most valuable lessons he has learned about leadership.

Two of this book’s greatest virtues are that, first, it offers an excellent introduction to an author of more than 50 other books that, collectively, cover just about every dimension of the contemporary business world; also, he shares his most valuable insights concerning an especially important — and difficult — leadership challenge. In this instance, how to gain and then sustain the trust and respect of others who will voluntarily follow and support their lead at all levels and in all areas of the given enterprise. I agree with him: Great leaders possess and personify “the ability to elicit extraordinary performance from ordinary people.”

Briefly but substantially, Tracy covers the essentials of leadership that include mission, a bias for action, courage, inspiration and motivation, communication, and team-building. In fact, he selected 21 specific subjects or themes to which he devotes a separate chapter. Of special interest and value to me is the material found in three chapters: “Focus on Results,” “Self-Motivation for Leaders,” and “Leaders Are Listeners.” Here is a brief excerpt from each to suggest the thrust and flavor of Tracy’s skills:

“Leaders are results-oriented rather than activities-oriented. Just doing something is worthless if what you’re doing doesn’t lead to a valuable result. Leaders are always thinking in terms of the results that are expected of them. Getting results depends on asking yourself four questions over and over again:

1. What are my high-value activities?
2. What are my key result areas?
3. What can I (and only I) do that, if done well, will make a real difference to my company?
4. What is the most valuable use of my time?

[Tracy poses and then discusses the importance of answering each of these questions in Chapter Eleven, “Focus on Results,” Pages 51-54.]

* * *

“Leaders take responsibility for keeping themselves motivated. They meet this responsibility using three methods. One is through their vision. Most real leaders, especially transformational leaders who have the ability to create the future, are dreamers. They dream of a future and of possibilities that nobody has thought of before. Sometimes a true leader can see a future with crystal clarity while other people around them cannot imagine it at all. Then the leaders go forward, and through planning, administering, and organizing, they make their dreams come true.”

[From Chapter Fifteen, “Leaders Are Listeners,” Pages 69-71.]

* * *

“Leaders are excellent listeners. As much as 50 percent to 60 percent of a leader’s time is spent listening. The key to being an excellent listener is listening not only for their words, but for what is going on behind the words. Listen for the real message and focus all your attention on the person who is speaking. In meetings and in your conversations with others, [here are three tips]:

o Listen attentively
o Pause before replying.
o Question for clarification.

[Tracy suggests techniques to apply each tip in Chapter Nineteen, “Self Motivation for Leaders,” Pages 88-90.]

* * *

Brian Tracy is Chairman and CEO of Brian Tracy International, a company specializing in the training and development of individuals and organizations. His goal is to help as many people as possible to achieve their personal and business goals faster and easier than they ever imagined. He has consulted for more than 1,000 companies and addressed more than 5,000,000 people in 5,000 talks and seminars throughout the US, Canada and 55 other countries worldwide. As a keynote speaker and seminar leader, he addresses more than 250,000 people each year. He is the author of more than 45 bestselling books that have been translated into dozens of languages. He has written and produced more than 300 audio and video learning programs, including the worldwide, best-selling Psychology of Achievement, which has been translated into more than 20 languages.

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