The Leadership Moment

I recently finished reading The Leadership Moment – Nine True Stories of Triumph and Disaster and Their Lessons for Us All – by Michael Useem.

As the author best captures it in the introduction, the book’s premise is as follows: “We all need to be ready for those moments when our leadership is on the line and the fate or fortune of others depends on what we do…It is my view that one of the most effective ways of preparing for such challenges is by looking at what others have done when their own leadership was on the line. By examining their experience and asking what they did and what they could have done, and by wondering what you would have done yourself, you can better anticipate what you should do when faced with your own leadership challenges. This book presents accounts of nine such experiences. ”

The experiences are diverse, and so are the perspectives and wisdom that are shared. The reader will naturally find herself reliving them and reflecting on what she would have in these situations. Am action gripping and learning filled read on leadership!

Below are excerpts from the book that I found particularly insightful:

1- “Collectively, these stories and the principles drawn from them offer a threefold prescription: prepare yourself, prepare your colleagues, prepare your organization.”

2- “1) Powers of the office: power to reward, power to punish, power of budget. 2) Organizational Leadership: empowerment, reorganization. 3) Personal Leadership: expertise, character.”

3- “The single most important lesson from these moments is the overwhelming significance of vision and action. Without a clear sense of destination, we are apt to flounder about, and without knowing how to get to that destination, we will never reach it even when we see it.”

4- “Nine Leadership Moments, Nine Leadership Principles – Know yourself, Explain yourself, Expect much, Gain commitment, Build now, Prepare yourself, Move fast, Find yourself, Remain steadfast.”

5- “It is not just how many followers one has; it is also how many leaders one has created among them. The more leadership in the ranks, the more effective is one’s own.”

6- “Achieving an organization’s imperative is a leader’s calling, but sometimes we confront moments when we must do otherwise. Such moments must be relatively unique, otherwise inconsistency in our organizational leadership will be evident for all to see; but if they are unthinkingly  bypassed, our value as a leader may be doubted by everyone, including ourselves.”

7- “If you expect those who work for you to exercise their own judgement, provide them with the decision-making experience now.”

8- “If you have difficult decisions ot make and insufficient time to explain them, a key to implementation may be loyal allies who are sure to execute them through thick or thin.”

9- “A clear sense of common purpose and a well-formed camaraderie are essential ingredients to ensure that your team, your organization, or your company will perform to its utmost when it is most needed.”

10- “Expecting high performance is prerequisite to its achievement among those who would with you. Your high standards and optimistic anticipations will not guarantee a favorable outcome, but their absence will assuredly create the opposite.”

11- “Recognizing people’s diverse motives for participating is an essential first step in mobilizing their contributions. Creating an opportunity for all to succeed – whatever their motives – is an essential second step in harnessing their contributions even when the room at the top is not big enough for all.”

12- “Some of today’s small actions in mobilizing others may prove of little value, but others may have great results. Since you often cannot know which will later become critical, you cannot afford to avoid or ignore any now.”

13- “Buy-in by all those affected by an organization’s change hastens its achievement. Consultation with them, engagement of them, and appeals to them are the critical steps for building acceptance of the change.”

14- “Inaction can be as damaging to leadership as inept action.”

15- “Realizing your leadership potential depends on making a match between your vision and an organization. The challenge is to find the right opportunity, pick the right moment, and make the right move.”

16- “Consistent, unrelenting efforts to hear and reconcile diverse positions, even when rooted in deeply entrenched and immensely powerful interests, are prerequisite to overcoming any conflict and mobilizing the resources that the contending parties are withholding.”


Omar Halabieh

The Leadership Moment

The Leadership Moment


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