I had the privilege of reviewing Deirdre Maloney's second book - Tough Truths: The Ten Leadership Lessons We Don't Talk About. (She's a powerhouse!) You can also read another review of the book on Forbes.
It's a short monograph that you can read on the train to work next week and I hope you will because it's chock full of great (if painful!) advice on how to improve your leadership skills TODAY.
Here are my favorite truths. Buy the book to read the rest.
Truth 10: Great Leaders Insist on Excellent, Pristine Communication
If you're one of those folks (you know who you are!) who write one word emails with no salutation or close, don't sign your correspondence, are short in meetings, etc. - Stop Now. Communication must become your strong suit if you are going to become a great leader. Why? Because it is your opportunity to CONNECT with others!
Treat every communication as special. Say "hello" to the recipient via email, phone or in person. Ask about a recent trip or vacation. Say "thank you." As a leader, you have tons of work to squeeze into a short day. Still, don't underestimate or squander the "small" interactions. Instead, use these moments as precious opportunities to connect with others. It will leave a lasting and positive impression.
Truth 8: Great Leaders Never, Ever Talk Trash
If you're a processor, like me, this may be one of the hardest truths to embody, learn, and PRACTICE. Still, you must start (or should I say stop) today - don't talk trash!
We all know folks (including ourselves!) who talk about others. Who bond with others by trashing their colleagues, bosses, board members, etc. It's a UNIVERSAL but BAD practice (have you seen a reality show lately?) because it makes you/me/us appear untrustworthy and leaks bad energy out in the world. This is not helpful for anyone. As Deirdre says,
"Talking trash makes you a trash talker. If you've done it once, you've done it twice... and you will become known for it. People won't trust you, won't go one level deeper with you. Perhaps worst of all, they'll respect you less." (Ouch!)Aspire today to be impeccable with your speech. Learn to be silent. Count to ten. Breathe. Not talking can feel awkward, especially if you're an extrovert, but it can also be a relief to know that you don't have to comment on EVERYONE and EVERYTHING. Plus, it's a good to pause and reflect before speaking. It will make you a better communicator (see Truth 10 above), a better role model for your team, and add more positive energy to the world!
Truth 4: Every Single Person, Even the Greatest Leader Out There, is Afraid
Leadership is NOT about getting and doing everything right. It's about getting better every day. And we only do this when we stretch our wings and take risks, which is scary.
Don't kid yourself into thinking that some people are fearless. They're not. They just act that way.
Be brave, take heart, and follow Deirdre's advice below.
"Pay attention to the great leaders you know. Know that they are afraid. Watch how they act anyway. Be inspired to do the same."Leadership is a HARD and rewarding art. While being a leader comes with amazing privileges and opportunities - you can effect more change in the world, you can have a lasting and positive impact in the lives of others, etc. Leadership is NOT a bed of roses. And the process of becoming a great leader takes a lot of work!
Thanks to Deirdre for giving it to us straight and helping us to become better every day so that we can, as she says, "do good, well."