Fail Safe Leadership

Posted on September 20, 2010


Effective leadership is necessary for any organization to succeed. Hundreds if not thousands of books have been written explaining the necessity for this key success element in business. Yet, far fewer books have presented a common sense approach using straight talk while providing some immediate strategies to help befuddled executives, small business owners, enterprising entrepreneurs and independent sales professionals such as realtors, insurance agents and financial advisors.

In this book, Fail-Safe Leadership: Straight Talk About Correcting the Leadership Challenges in Your Organization, the authors Linda L. Martin and Dr. David G. Mutchler condensed what is known about leadership in such a way that you remember it and can apply some, if not all, of their observations.

In the Forward written by James B. Godshall, he succinctly captures why this book can help any individual organization. Given that this book was first published in 2001, Godshall saw the impact of the multi-generational leaders in the workplace and acknowledged there is no “one size fits” all approach to a leader prototype. How many books are you read that promised this is the way for great leadership?

The authors start the introduction with some keen observations especially about the necessity for using Ockham’s Razor because they respect the limited time of the reader. Their last statement reinforces Peter Drucker’s words that “Leadership is all about results.”

Next the reader has an opportunity for a “quick temperature” 20 item checklist to determine if there are some leadership gaps or problems. Additionally, another key concept brought to the table is understanding the symptoms, but learning how to treat the problem. The authors use the analogy of a physician who is presented with symptoms of a disease and then must determine the actual disease affecting the patient.

Chapter 3 is one of my favorites because of the title: “The Old Gray Mare, She Ain’t What She Used to Be.” In this chapter, the authors recognized that leadership has changed, but many organizations are still operating in the 18th and 19th century models. Reminds me a little of public education, but I digress.

Probably the most powerful chapter specific to the concept of leadership is Chapter 4. Here the authors debunk the usual competency model of leadership because by its structure is it not in alignment with existing talents and strengths of all individuals. They suggest employing a results based model. What happens is internalization by all involved instead of forced external driver to create change.

Following each chapter are powerful questions that truly provide greater clarity when answered by the executive team or even an individual. One simple vignette quickly illustrates why so many strategic goals fail.

If you or your organization are experiencing some challenges and have limited time, then I believe in about 2 hours, you can secure a better handle on what actions you may need to take. Remember leadership development is a process and one that every person needs in your organization because your people, your human capital, are what separates you from everyone else in the marketplace.

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Chicago Executive and Sales Coach Leanne Hoagland Smith works with people and organizations to know then choose and finally create tomorrow’s results today. Check out her first sales bookBe the Red Jacket in the Sea of Gray Suits, the Keys to Unlocking Sales Success.

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