CareerSherpas: Climbing the Mountain

When you’re on the way, it helps to share the load

Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category

Optimistic Leaders Produce Strongest Results

Monday, April 25th, 2011

I admit it. I do love psychological studies. And while the┬áHarvard Business Review article “Primal Leadership: The Hidden Driver of Great Performance” (subscription required) is getting a little long in the tooth (being originally published in 2001) it’s still a gem.

The whole concept of emotional intelligence and its impact in the workplace is still striking even if we’re all (somewhat) sick of hearing about it. The returns on being genuine, optimistic and empathetic are so well documented that it’s almost an immutable law of nature… but then again it probably was all along. What’s fascinating is the clear tie between the mood of leaders and the success of their groups and how pervasive that mood becomes throughout an organization.

There are a lot of really important points made by the article.

For individuals, your positive approach is infectious. Every time you are able to push the positive side with those around you, your performance and abilities and that of your peers will improve. Creating a virtuous cycle with your peers will breed everyone’s success.

For leaders, if you haven’t already started improving your attitude you’re missing out in all areas from your staff. Your staff can be significantly more engaged, dynamic, creative, innovative and productive just through improving your outlook. Without that kind of performance you are on the firing line and sooner or later it will catch up with you.

The article goes so far as to lay out a path to improving your emotional intelligence and the impact you have on those around you. The five step process is nicely balanced in the brain science and easy to work through thoughtfully.

  • Defining your ideal personal state.
  • Gathering information on what is holding you back and your strengths in dealing with people.
  • Planning your approach and the feedback mechanisms to keep you on track.
  • Experimenting with leadership approaches in a careful and thoughtful way.
  • Getting help in becoming your ideal self through trusted relationships with others.

If you’d like the more in-depth version, try reading the full article or the insightful book by the same authors, “Primal Leadership: Learning to Lead with Emotional Intelligence”

Have you considered or worked on any of the improvement ideas suggested? What kind of success (and stumbles) have you had along the way?

Peter Fitzgerald is the founder of and is currently working on his first book, connecting individuals with ideas and opportunities, and attempting to learn the bagpipes.

Will You be Loved, Feared or Hated?

Monday, April 18th, 2011

“Upon this a question arises: whether it be better to be loved than feared or feared than loved?” – Nicollo Machiavelli, The Prince

That Machiavelli guy was onto something right? He must have been, otherwise we wouldn’t still be reading what he wrote hundreds of years later and finding new nuances in his work. From a Machiavellian point of view, fear and love are the important options to be courted while avoiding making people hate you.

A recent article by Joey Strawn called “Everybody Likes You, Too Bad You Still Suck” made me think hard about Machiavelli and offers an interesting counterpoint. In the age of the “Long Tail”, lowered barriers to starting businesses and advancing careers, and the democratization of access to pretty much everything, Strawn argues that being hated by some is actually a sign of success if a larger group love you.

We’re all human and we want to be liked. Realizing that not everybody will like you, it’s still important that those people involved in your success are positive toward you. Ideally you want them to love what you do for them. Strawn’s prescient observation that this will likely make someone hate you for it is an important reality.

There’s some truth to be had in both perspectives, but there’s a strategy decision involved that you have to make for yourself depending on circumstances. Your decision has to take into account what you’re comfortable with (can you stand some people really hating you) and who you’re responsible to (what will your boss support you on).

More and more we’re all looked at to be leaders to succeed. How are you going to lead?

Peter Fitzgerald is the founder of and is currently working on his first book, connecting individuals with ideas and opportunities, and attempting to learn the bagpipes.