How to Lead Smart People Book Summary - How to Lead Smart People Book explained in key points
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How to Lead Smart People summary

Arun Singh and Mike Mister

Leadership for Professionals

4 (74 ratings)
22 mins
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    How to Lead Smart People
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    Key idea 1 of 7

    Smart leaders use assertive language to achieve their goals.

    Meet Angela, a senior associate who is hoping for a promotion. She’s worked hard and climbed the ranks of her company, but she knows she can climb higher. What’s more, she knows she’s being considered for a promotion. All she has to do is prove her ability – which she plans to do at an upcoming international conference, where she’s scheduled to give a talk.

    But then she’s put in a challenging position. While preparing for the conference, her manager, Mark, storms into her office. He waits impatiently for Angela to end her phone call and then aggressively demands that she prepare a talk for him at the same conference.

    What should she do? Say yes, even though she has to prepare her own talk? Or say no, and risk upsetting Mark?

    The key message here is: Smart leaders use assertive language to achieve their goals.

    Remember: Angela is striving to step into a position of leadership. Even though she’s a people pleaser and usually struggles to say no, she is able, when confronted by her manager, to use a tool that every leader should have in her toolbox: assertiveness.

    Assertiveness is about knowing your rights and values, and being able to firmly communicate what you want and why you want it. Used effectively, assertiveness can bring you closer to your goals and keep you from being taken advantage of. It’s not the same as aggression. Rather, it means you’re able to stand up for what you need while still respecting the needs of others.

    That brings us back to Angela.

    She knew that Mark was trying to manipulate her, and so she used a self-assertion technique called fogging. Fogging involves carefully listening to and acknowledging a person’s needs while taking your own rights into consideration before addressing that person’s demands.

    Let’s look at how Angela employed it.

    She was able to consider whether preparing Mark’s speech was something she needed to do or something she was only doing to please him. She concluded that, in light of her own workload, she had the right to turn Mark’s request down. And so, using a mature, assertive tone and steady eye contact, she acknowledged that Mark needed her help but firmly maintained that she would not be able to deliver the task in time.

    And by standing her ground, she was able to focus on her own talk and work toward her promotion.

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    What is How to Lead Smart People about?

    How to Lead Smart People (2019) offers practical advice for leadership in today’s shifting global landscape. In these blinks, leaders can learn how to cultivate a team dynamic that both challenges and inspires.

    Best quote from How to Lead Smart People

    Smart people need to have a say in the destination and the proposed mode of travel.

    —Arun Singh and Mike Mister
    example alt text

    Who should read How to Lead Smart People?

    • CEOs and managers who want to earn the respect of their employees
    • Junior and mid-level managers seeking a promotion
    • Leaders and team members aspiring to become more effect communicators

    About the Author

    Arun Singh is a leading lawyer in international corporate law and a former partner at KPMG Law, an international law practice. An educator in corporate leadership and negotiations with three decades of experience, he has served as a visiting professor at both Chinese and British business schools, taught at international organizations, and advised the UK government on international trade and investment.

    Mike Mister is a partner at The Møller Institute, at Churchill College, University of Cambridge, as well as the former global director for Executive Development at EY Global.

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