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King’s Counsel

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4. Turn fears into goals. Executives are human, thus they all have fears. I make them express them openly. By degrees, the leader’s and the group’s fears are spoken aloud and turned into goals and activities that move everyone forward. After a while, they see that their fears are the cork in the bottle of their desired future.

5. Honour your word and require it of others. Integrity, the practice of honouring your word, is the field of play for causing breakthroughs deliberately. This value must be insisted upon, and any breaches must be fully discussed. After some months, to honour one’s word will become a spoken value in the organizational culture and an expected practice. With this comes trust, which provides incredible energy for any top business team.

6. Revisit rackets. Every leader has what psychologist Eric Berne called a “racket.” A racket is a way of being, taking action, and achieving results which, while successful initially, has the eventual downside of keeping a person playing smaller than they otherwise might, and suppressing their own and others’ performance. When a leader comes sensitively and powerfully to grips with the limitations of their personal racket, there is a miraculous transformation available in organizational behaviour as well, and the possibility of sudden, unexpected, extraordinary business results emerges. Formal leaders have an enormous impact on energy and vitality in a company. All personalities have strengths and limitations. But when somebody has formal power over others, the effect of what they bring into focus, or suppress, ripples throughout the system. Every place people are playing small, feeling bored, won’t be coached, avoiding important conflict, or are challenged by relationships, it’s almost certain that their rackets are running the show. A racket conversation is about identifying and dealing with those personal attitudes and behaviours that have limited one’s leadership effectiveness in the past. Once dealt with, there is nothing to hold a person back from exercising newly found capabilities and going beyond perceived limitations. Once freed from the shackles of incremental leadership, most people naturally want to practice new skills in the service of their most important challenges.

7. Believe in an impossibility and anything might happen. There’s a Latin saying:“ex impossibile quodlibet”. It means that one can create a new possibility where none now exists. It’s important to make executives see that, many times, what’s “normal” can be changed, what “can’t be done” really can. When executives begin to take responsibility for what is “impossible”, right now, they are suddenly able to see what they have to do to make it possible. Often, they achieve the impossible more quickly than they ever imagined.

8. Connect people based on what they deeply care about. I insist that executives tell others what they care deeply about regarding work projects, the company — even life. This makes relationships stronger; and such candour becomes the platform for great collaborations, proving that relationships, the alignment of values and commitments, are the foundation of accomplishment.

9. Have an inspired, central message consistent with the consuming obsession of your life. Ultimately, executives I work with must communicate to hundreds, if not thousands, of employees. It’s critical that leaders share a powerful message about what they and the company need to do in order to be successful.

10. Pay attention to people’s energy. I make sure every executive knows that he or she is an “energy manager”. That means, for all the people they are overseeing, it is the executive’s job to make sure the right energy level exists throughout the company. Executives must focus the energy of others toward achieving the most important organizational goals. There are some factors that top managers should keep in mind as they engage the energy of others. These human factors, which increase energy and the likelihood of success, are detailed in the chart below:

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