Robert Iger had been the CEO of the Walt Disney Company for 15 years. In his book “The Ride of a Lifetime”, Iger tells his story from humble beginnings to global fame. In hindsight, the author tries to extract some lessons for successful leadership. The book is pleasant to read. Its storytelling is enjoyable. It gives you insights into how the life of a CEO looks like.
I recommend it: enjoy the story and take the lessons with a grain of salt.
Leadership is not an exact science, and most books dealing with it are a waste of time. The best thing about “The Ride of a Lifetime” is the no-nonsense approach to leadership; the author tells you what has worked for him and what has not. There are no references to (HBS) academic theories, nor pseudo-scientific studies. When I finished reading the book, the impression I had was that leadership is all about being trustworthy, emotionally aware, and able to take bold risks.
The author starts the first chapter by “This book is not a memoir”, as he wants it to be a book of lessons. I disagree. Iger is trying to connect the dots backward and to make sense of past events. This process is very risky, especially when based on one person’s perspective. It is prone to the hindsight bias; when we try to find causality between correlated events where there might be none. The author admits the role of chance at the end of the book, but convey the message that the traits that served him well are the reason for his achievements. This is why I think that the lessons should be taken with a grain of salt. Some problems have no unique solution. Again, leadership is not an exact science.
Becoming a manager is a stressful, yet rewarding, experience. Beginners in management often fail in their first role. This is mainly because of their misconceptions about what it means to be the boss. In this post, you will find the main misconceptions about management, reality, and tips for successful leadership. The main misconceptions of the new managers are:
I can rely on the same skills that led me to the management role.
Being a manager means I am more independent.
Formal authority is a source of power.
Results delivery requires controlling people.
I must build relationships with individual subordinates.
I will make sure that the operation will keep running smoothly.
1 – Be a leader. Don’t be a star.
Myth: I can rely on the same skills that led me to my new role.
Reality: The required skills to be a successful manager are completely different. You learn them mostly by experience. You need to put your emotional intelligence at work.
Tip: Prepare yourself for the management role before you take it. If you already are a manager, it is never too late. Learn and practice.
2 – Stay humble, you can’t do whatever you want
Myth: Now I can implement my brilliant plans. I can change everything.
Reality: You are tied with a complex chain of interactions. You discover that someone who works for you could get you fired.
Tip: Build your network inside the organization. Learn how to negotiate and influence. Understand the interdependencies and stay humble.
3 – Don’t rely on your formal authority. You must earn it.
Myth: My position is a source of power.
Reality: You can’t be more wrong. It will surprise you that people will not give you respect and trust you for your formal authority, you need to earn it.
Tip: Demonstrate competence (listen more than talk), character (your willingness to do the right thing) and influence in the organization.
The more talented the subordinate, the less likely he/she is to follow orders.
4 – Don’t seek compliance. Seek commitment.
Myth: I must get compliance from my subordinates. I am in charge; I control.
Reality: More often than not, direct reports will not respond when you tell them to do something.
Tip: Build commitment by empowering individuals to achieve team goals. Don’t use orders.
The book is written in a “coaching” style, and is full of research-based tips and practices that help you understand better the self-control mechanisms and employ them to gain more willpower.
One of the best interesting ideas that I find helpful is to mind the gap between your “Present self”, that is yourself, and your “Future self”, that super-human that can stick to any plan or budget. More details in the takeaways below.
The intelligent want self-control; children want candy.
Willpower is a biological instinct, like stress, that evolved to help us protect ourselves from ourselves. It helps us to be a better version of ourselves.
Self-control is like a muscle. It gets tired from use, but regular exercise makes it stronger. When your are too tired, you are most likely to give in to temptations. Self-control is highest in the morning and deteriorates over the course of the day. Try to accomplish your most important tasks early in the morning. When you come back from a hard day of work, exhausted, you are less likely to exercise, and more likely to overeat. Similarly, don’t get yourself into exhaustion before moments of big decisions. This includes sleeping well and eating well. Continue reading “The Willpower Instinct – Kelly McGonigal”→
In his book “Up the Organization”, Robert Townsend gives 10 evaluation criteria that you can use to rate your boss as a leader.
Here is, in a nutshell, the difference between a boss and a leader: a boss is someone who was appointed by the organization to manage a team. A leader, on the other hand, is someone in the organization who inspires people. A boss pushes people to work, a leader pulls them towards his vision. Some bosses are leaders, others are just managers. For a brief comparison between (bad) boss and leader characteristics, you may refer to the info-graphic at the end of this post.
Back to Townsend’s criteria, the author suggests that you score each of the following characteristics from 0 to 10, the total (from 0 to 100) is you boss’s rating. How much is your boss : Continue reading “Is your Boss a Leader ?”→