Management Mess to Leadership Success Book Summary - Management Mess to Leadership Success Book explained in key points
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Management Mess to Leadership Success summary

Scott Jeffrey Miller

30 Challenges to Become the Leader You Would Follow

4.4 (229 ratings)
16 mins
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    Management Mess to Leadership Success
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    Lead yourself by learning to listen.

    Have you ever been at a party and got stuck in conversation with someone who constantly interrupts you? Maybe they’re polite enough to ask a lot of questions, but they fire off another before you even have a chance to answer the first. Or maybe you’re the person who does this as a coping mechanism for your social anxiety and deathly fear of silence. The fact of the matter is, the well-intentioned drive to fill space and create dialogue can sometimes backfire if you approach a conversation like a criminal attorney. Inevitably, your target – and they will feel like a target – will become defensive and shut down. Your rapport will too.

    Silence, if you remember, is golden. As important as it is to ask questions to engage someone, it’s just as important to give them enough space to consider and reflect, formulate a thought, and articulate it. Each person has their own vocal rhythm and pattern. Some people may be capable of responding at 100 miles per hour but others are slower and will feel rushed and not heard if you speed things along.

    So what characterizes a truly effective listener? Well, let’s first consider what not to do. Active listening doesn’t consist of evaluating – assenting or dissenting based on personal experience; counseling – giving advice; interpreting – drawing conclusions on cause or outcome; or probing – asking follow-up questions based on one’s curiosity, rather than allowing the other person to lead. 

    Let’s consider an example. Your friend calls you, very upset, to share the news that their cat has just died. An evaluator might say, “Chin up, mate! It’s not a tragedy in the grand scheme of things.” A counselor might say, “Why don’t you get your cat stuffed by a taxidermist?” A prober might ask, “Was she hit by the neighbor’s car?” And an interpreter might say, “Maybe you wouldn’t be so sad if you’d listened to the doctor about putting her down before it came to this.”

    While the responders in this scenario might be well-intentioned, the problem with all their responses is that instead of empathetically inviting the speaker to share their thoughts and feelings without judgment, they’re making it about their own feelings, needs, and pressures.

    Our culture doesn’t invest a lot of resources into teaching people to become strong listeners. Yes, we’re taught how to debate, communicate, promote, persuade, and present. But how many people have received formal training in the art of careful listening? In fact, listening is one of the most critical yet neglected communication skills. It requires an immense amount of attention, care, curiosity, and self-control.

    If listening is one of your weak points, here’s something quick to try out: count to seven before deciding to fill a silence. Filling silence is, after all, often just a euphemism for interrupting and not giving the other person enough time and space to respond. You might be surprised by how this pause can generate a profound positive change in your relationships!

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    What is Management Mess to Leadership Success about?

    Management Mess to Leadership Success (2019) is a guide to renovating and polishing your management skills. Through relatable, personal anecdotes of fumbles, missteps, and what not to do, it offers applicable challenges for you to revamp your team by providing a step-by-step guide on how to lead yourself and others and deliver results.

    Who should read Management Mess to Leadership Success?

    • Team managers
    • HR professionals
    • Leaders in and beyond the corporate office

    About the Author

    Scott Miller is a leadership veteran who spent four years at Disney and nearly three decades with the leadership development firm FranklinCovey where he’s the senior advisor on thought leadership. He hosts the weekly podcast On Leadership with Scott Miller and writes for and Utah Business. His previous books include Marketing Mess to Brand Success and Master Mentors.

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