Contributor: Vince Christy, NCG Business Coach
In our businesses and in our lives, it’s important not to miss an opportunity to learn something new. Education never stops, whether it is for personal growth, to evolve as business leaders, or to reinforce knowledge we already have. The author Stephen Covey refers to this as “Sharpening the Saw”. This means taking time out every day, 30 minutes to an hour, to fine tune our ability to work smarter and not harder, improve our emotional intelligence, or become a better communicator. Cultivating your perspective doesn’t need to come from just “business books”. The best leaders in the world have quite diverse reading lists.
Whether it be The Great Gatsby or Clifford the Big Red Dog, a deeper meaning can be acquired through the lens of a Book Club. Book Clubs provide numerous benefits to “Sharpening the Saw” of personal development. When the powwow date to discuss a book is fast approaching, “I’ll read it later” is no longer an option. In this way it forces accountability and prevents procrastination.
When people come together, it allows for a deeper understanding of the content through diverse perspectives. Sometimes looking at information through our eyes only can leave blind spots in areas that we may have thought were boring or unimportant. A healthy banter at a Book Club can challenge privately held conclusions that may have been incorrect. A person’s judgement on a book’s content is exactly that. It’s personal. It meant something to us in the way we interpreted it. Hearing others’ personal interpretations on the same content can give us a deeper understanding overall. Sharing ideas in a public forum can also build courage to share our ideas professionally in the future. Healthy collaboration is a key to success in all aspects of life. As the saying goes, “No one is an island.”
As for Nolan Consulting Group’s Book Club, we’ve met pretty consistently since the Winter of 2020. Our team of coaches and staff reads a new book and then we have monthly discussion on our takeaways, highlights and perspectives. We’ve shared a peek into our group discussions before when we released some highlights on our podcast discussing First Break All the Rules by Marcus Buckingham. Some others that have made the list include Rocketfuel by Gino Wickman & Mark Winters, Profit First by Mike Michalowicz, and The Secret by Ken Blanchard & Mark Miller, all of which are fantastic reads.
Our most recent book of the month was The Dichotomy of Leadership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. In it, Jocko and Leif use instances from their military experience and consulting firm to help business leaders comprehend the push/pull in leadership and how to come to grips with the natural contradictions that occur in order to make the best choices. You can listen to some of our thoughts on the book in a recorded conversation on our Podcast Channel and also get a sense of the book’s message via some of the highlights and takeaways I personally captured below.
Dichotomy of Leadership is about the Balancing of Opposing Forces
# 1 ULTIMATE DICHOTOMY
Love your team without letting feelings stop you from doing what is necessary
- Knowing when is time to lead, when to follow
- Letting others lead and being receptive to new ideas allows your team members to grow
- It’s natural to let them fail in order for them to learn, but be present before it goes too far
# 2 OWN IT ALL, BUT EMPOWER OTHERS
Micromanaging VS Hands off Leadership: Establish a middle ground, come to an understanding of trust. Micromanaging is not necessary when trust in team is achieved
- Explain the Why: Teams buy-in when given reasons for purpose
- Building unity in direction is key
- Team designations and logos can help unify members
- When a decision is made, it’s now everyone’s decision
- Obsessing over details can cause detachment from the “big picture”
- Take time to stand back (detach) from daily tasks in order to focus on “big picture”
#3 WHEN TO MENTOR, WHEN TO FIRE
- The “General Patton style” of “listen or else” is usually met with resistance and won’t work long term
- Explain the why again, take ownership and adjust when needed
- Training must be repetitive. Training is only as effective as the person who is giving it.
- Fire an employee as a last resort, only after additional coaching has been given. If they are still a detriment to the team after additional coaching, time to terminate.
#4 AGGRESSIVE, NOT RECKLESS
Being disciplined means sticking to values, but maintaining flexibility.
- Aggression must be slowed by analysis and logic. What is the risk vs reward for moving quickly?
- Being aggressive is needed but be sure to have a contingency plan if it fails
- Don’t be too rigid. Acting like machines will be counterproductive for everyone, including clients & customers.
#5 PLAN, BUT DON’T OVER-PLAN
- Too much prep/structure can “weigh you down”
- Can’t plan for every possible scenario. Attempting to do so will result in over-planning and be a detriment overall
#6 HUMBLE, NOT PASSIVE
- No single person knows everything. Being humble enough to know this is critical
- Humbleness does not mean passiveness. Having the conviction to be assertive when needed is also needed
- Being too passive will allow problems to escalate
- Be careful not to overcorrect when issues are found
With that being the SHORT list of takeways and notes on opposing forces, we would highly recommend that you pick up your own copy of Dichotomy of Leadership and take the time to give it a read, it is full of applicable lessons and wisdom that can be implemented into your organization and your leadership behaviors.
Ready for more? Check out our recommend list of reading on our website and the Out of the Hourglass Podcasts for snippets of our book club meetings and other impactful conversations. Next up on our list: The Coaching Habit Michael Bungay Stanier!
All the best,