Here is an excerpt from an article written Peter Bregman for Harvard Business Review and the HBR Blog Network. To read the complete article, check out the wealth of free resources, obtain subscription information, and receive HBR email alerts, please click here.
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Brad was leading a difficult turnaround of his company and had decided to fire his head of sales, who was a nice guy but wasn’t performing.
Three months later, he still hadn’t fired him.
I asked him why. His answer? “I’m a wimp!”
Brad (not his real name — I’ve changed some details to protect people’s privacy) is the CEO of a financial services firm and is most definitely not a wimp. He’s a normal human, just like you and me. And he’s struggling to follow through on an important, strategic decision. Just like, at times, you and I do.
No matter your age, your role, your position, your title, your profession, or your status, to get your most important work done, you have to have hard conversations, create accountability, and inspire action.
In order to do that, you need to show up powerfully and magnetically in a way that attracts people to trust you, follow you, and commit to putting 100% of their effort into a larger purpose, something bigger than all of you. You need to care about others and connect with them in such a way that they feel your care. You need to speak persuasively — in a way that’s clear, direct, and honest and that reflects your care — while listening with openness, compassion, and love. Even when being challenged.
And, of course, you need to follow through quickly and effectively.
In 25 years of working with leaders to do all the above, I have found a pattern that I share in my new book, Leading with Emotional Courage, consisting of four essential elements that all great leaders rely on to rally people to accomplish what’s important to them. To lead effectively — really, to live effectively — you must be confident in yourself, connected to others, committed to purpose, and emotionally courageous.
Most of us are great at only one of the four. Maybe two. But to be a powerful presence — to inspire action — you need to excel at all four simultaneously.
If you’re confident in yourself but disconnected from others, everything will be about you and you’ll alienate the people around you. If you’re connected to others but lack confidence in yourself, you will betray your own needs and perspectives in order to please everyone else. If you’re not committed to a purpose, something bigger than yourself and others, you’ll flounder, losing the respect of those around you as you act aimlessly, failing to make an impact on what matters most. And if you fail to act powerfully, decisively, and boldly — with emotional courage — your ideas will remain idle thoughts and your goals will remain unfulfilled fantasies.
Let’s apply this to Brad and identify precisely where and how he was getting stuck.
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Here is a direct link to the complete article.
Peter Bregman is CEO of Bregman Partners, a company that helps senior leaders create accountability and inspire collective action on their organization’s most important work. Best-selling author of 18 Minutes, his forthcoming book is Leading with Emotional Courage. He is also the host of the Bregman Leadership Podcast. To receive an email when he posts, click here.