“How to Lead Smart People” : Book Summary

1 Line Summary

How to lead Smart People” tells you how to manage and lead yourself, your department and your organization with diligence and professionalism.

What Will You Learn

You’ll learn how to:

  • Lead yourself,
  • Lead your team and
  • Lead your organization.

Book Summary

Leading Smart People involves three areas of leadership:

  1. Leading Me,
  2. Leading the Team,
  3. Leading the Organization.

Let’s get into details step by step.

Leading Me

We’ll discuss 15 principles ofleading yourself” for leadership role of leading Smart People.

PrincipleElaborationHow to Practice It
AssertivenessAssertiveness is related to balance, being clear about your needs as well as the needs of others.1. Being aware of your rights and valuing them.
2. Accept that you can’t control the behavior of others.
3. Learn to say “No”.
4. Try scripting the scenarios considering the situation, your feelings, needs and consequences.
5. Think about your responsibilities.
AuthenticityIt means being true to yourself, possessing integrity in dealings and recognizing your worth and values.

It requires courage to stand back from the crowd.
1. Have a personal manifesto.
2. Be consistent.
3. Establish boundaries.
4. Be clear on what you won’t share.
5. Be transparent.
Being an Energy RadiatorKeep the followers enthused and aligned with purpose.

It also encapsulates giving praise, acknowledging people and their efforts, providing clarity over how the workers would contribute to a bigger, positive and better future.
1. Help people see beyond difficulties.
2. Be approachable and visible.
3. Use courteous language and encourage your people.
4. Explain your decisions.
5. Celebrate effort as well as success.  
Body LanguageBring emphasis, authority and power to the messages using body movements, facial expressions, tone and loudness of voice, hand gestures, postures and handshake.1. Observe your hands and maintain eye contact while speaking.
2. Adopt an open posture, sit comfortably in meetings.
3. Check your assumptions, don’t jump into conclusions.
Building TrustYour people have to trust you and you have to trust them.
It is a lubrication that makes relationships and  organizations work; and develops willingness to work in ambiguous situations.
1. Be transparent and keep your promises.
2. Express your feelings and share your knowledge.
3. Trust your team and keep confidence on followers.
4. Be fair and consistent.
Emotional IntelligenceLeaders who are in-touch with their emotions know how they feel themselves and are able to read and understand the feelings of others.1. Pay attention to what is happening to you physically.
2. Practice being calm, focused and breathe deeply.
3. Identify and understand the needs, wants and viewpoints of colleagues.
4. Take responsibility for your actions.Devote time for personal development.
Impostor SyndromeIt is a feeling that we are simply not good enough.

Deep down, every leader knows that things change, mistakes happen and things need rectification.
1. Be realistic and share concerns with the team.
2. Stop comparing and trust your team.
3. Focus on what you are good at; see mistakes as mis-takes.
4. Stop attributing success or failure as  luck; show self-confidence.
ListeningIt involves really listening, empathetically and being able to demonstrate that you have heard and understood the other person.1. Get rid of distractions, keep the conversation going.
2. Be still in the moment and comfortable with the silence.
3. Master the techniques of reflecting, repeating and paraphrasing.
4. Choose when to lead or listen.
ManagementManaging is about organizing, planning, coordinating and internal policies and procedures are followed.1. Change the way you think about routine tasks.
2. Talk to colleagues or partners who are good at this.
3. Precisely how your firm’s systems work and interrelate.
4. Teach your juniors why the management work is so important.
Multi-taskingMulti-tasking is doing more than one task at a time.

Multi-tasking is inefficient; both knowledge and leadership benefit from periods of focused and uninterrupted attention.
1. Resist temptation; stay vigilant.
2. Focus and concentrate on the task in hand.
3. Stop making excuses; be realistic about the consequences.
PresentationsPresenting is a part of professional life and you may have to make the dullest of technical subject sound appealing and interesting.1. Prepare the scope and depth of information to be conveyed.
2. Open with Impact; use your own style and appear real not superficial.
3. Deal with nerves; use humor if needed.
Rehearse your delivery properly.
4. Close with impact.
ResilienceResilience is the ability to deal with continuous pressure and keep performing at a high level over extended period of time.1. Check your mind-talk; become conscious of what you say to yourself.
2. Be clear with your language.
3. Take action.
Juggling roles of Leading, Producing and ManagingA key issue for Smart leaders is the basis of their authority.
They are expected to understand the technicalities of work and have something to offer at this position.
1. Being clear about the long-term goals helps in maintain focus.
2. Make time for managing and leading.
3. Focus on the unique value you can add and share load with the team.
4. Keep reviewing your working habits.
Rivals and JealousyYou need to maintain strong working relationships with peers and rivals, who might feel that they have been unjustifiably passed over.1. Test your assumptions.
2. Beware of your emotions; clarify what you want.
3. Test your responses.
4. Redefine relationships and boundaries.
5. Seek a joint solution; use your power and authority wisely.
The Time BindConsider time as a valuable resource, it is absolutely fixed and can’t be increased.1. Determine 5 to 7 overriding priorities.
2. Focus on the agenda and prioritize; check your ways of working.
3. Delegate more.Use time blocks; turn “to-do- lists” into “not-to-do lists”.
4. Don’t multi-task; manage technology wisely; don’t let is manage you.

Leading the Team

We’ll discuss 15 principles ofleading your team” in the lines to come.

PrincipleElaborationHow to Practice It
Choosing when to step up and leadLeadership is all about acting and getting things done; how you respond when those moments of choice present themselves is the key.1. Behave authentically; listen to your instinct.
2. Volunteer and put yourself in positions  where you have to lead; practice leadership.
3. Ask yourself, what can I do to help us get to a result.Identify when there are likely to be opportunities to lead.
4. Helping others grow and develop is probably the most important job of the leader; ask other team members to do things and offer help for getting things done.
CoachingCoaching is simply the process of helping people learn how to help themselves and other people.1. Learn the skills of questioning, listening and summarizing.
2. Coaching is a skill and skills are only developed through practice.
3. Develop a range in your coaching style.
CredibilityEarly on, career credibility comes from technical expertise- but later in career, this diminishes unless one is truly an authority over a subject.
It is directly linked to track record and responsibilities, projects or clients with which you are associated.
Credibility needs constant attention and refinement; it is an important source of power for leaders.
1. Ensure you hit your budgets, business development, utilization, costs, billings and recovery targets for existing portfolio.
2. Build a reputation for something that is valuable for the firm.
3. Learn to run multi-disciplinary projects and client teams; get some training to develop interpersonal skills.
4. Be loyal and accountable.
5. Keep learning.
DisruptorsA smart leader’s job is to provide optimum amount of stability for the group, balancing high performance and innovation with managing conflicts, if a clash of ideas threatens to disrupt in a negative way.
Remember- if you permit poor behavior, you are promoting it.
1. Listen carefully, check the reality.
2. Give feedback when the effect is negative.
3. Be proportionate in applying sanctions.
4. Clarify your expected standards of behavior.
5. Allow or help other person to find a ‘face saving’ way out of a situation.
Decision-makingDecision making is a key expectation everyone has of their leaders.
If you are leading a new initiative, your style needs to be visionary, starting with brain storming and then polishing down options.
Make sure, you have consulted the right people.
1. Remember that there is no perfect decision; one can only make the best possible decision with the information available at a moment in time.
2. Take time to gather as much data as you can to inform your decision.
3. Decide how the decision is to be implemented.
4. Sometimes not making a decision is a decision in itself; however, make sure your inaction is done for good reason.
DelegatingDelegation is great way of providing developmental experiences on real work tasks. 
Smart leaders need to delegate tasks properly if they want a more effective team.
Giving team, the opportunity to grow is critical to maintaining their work, engagement and enthusiasm.
1. Be clear on the objectives being delegated, Set Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time Bound goals.
2. Smart people generally don’t like being checked.
3. Agree on what and when you will be checking in together.
4. Explain how the work fits in the bigger picture.
5. Remember, you can delegate task but ultimate accountability will be on your end.
Empowerment and MotivationCreate an environment and circumstances in which your people feel empowered and want to give their absolute best.
A fundamental issue in leadership is finding ways of aligning the effort of your followers in a way that requires minimal direction from you, the leader.
1. Pay attention to the working atmosphere you are creating.Know your people; review the work that is coming in.
2. See every job as a potential motivator for team members.
3. Stretch and challenge your team all the time.
4. Show them the bigger picture.
5. Create recognition rituals.
Feedback/Feed forwardGiving people development feedback in a way that leads to positive outcome is a core leadership skill that must be mastered.
Feedback needs to be neutral in delivery yet powerful enough to encourage change.
Sometimes it is more important for individuals to receive ‘feed-forward’.
1. Offer timely suggestions, thoughts and ideas on how improve and move forward.
2. Be clear on the message; choose the moment of feedback/ feed-forward carefully.
3. Choose the words, tone, time and place carefully.
4. Make sure you have relevant and specific data for the feedback.  
Giving PraiseSmart leaders support their people to grow and develop into sufficient leaders in their own right.
To grow skill and capability, people need to understand what they need to do and when they have done the right things.
Help your people really understand what ‘good’ looks like.
1. Catch the people doing things right and tell them.
2. Be specific and balanced; don’t overdo.
3. Make your praise visible.
4. Create specific form of praise that works for you- something like this, when it happened what you saw or heard and the impact it had on you and others.
5. Don’t let people diminish it.
Impact and PresenceTo be taken seriously as a leader you need to look, act and sound like one- and not only with direct reports but with your colleagues, clients and stakeholders.
Leaders with coherent personal impact and presence make strong impression which is a big help in getting things done.
1. Begin with the end in mind; what impact you want to make and what will it look and sound like.
2. Look straight when talking to people; a quarter turn-away shows disinterest.
3. Use direct eye contact, scan your audience and make eye contact with majority of them, even if momentarily.
4. Put as much energy in voice as you can by breathing fully and deeply.
5. Be aware of your body language.
Resolving ConflictsSmart people tend to have opinions and not everyone is going to agree with you all the times.
As a leader you will experience conflict with and between team members and you are the one to  manage it.
1. Take responsibility for resolving conflicts.
2. Suspend your immediate reaction- start by listening, listen, repackage and replay what you think you’ve heard.
3. Depersonalize your language.
4. Remind yourself that your job as a leader is to play the long game.
5. Come to a conclusion; be clear on the steps and actions to move forward.
6. Be clear on your story, write it down; now write down the story of other party. Now build a third story- the combined one that builds on success and areas of commonality.
Setting ObjectivesSmart leaders are clear about desired results.
The key is making sure all the main task parameters are clearly understood, providing support and agreeing relevant review points.
1. Be very clear about all the aspects of deliverables.
2. Make judgment call about how specific others need you to set specific objectives.
3. Break larger task into manageable sub-tasks for precise accomplishment; avoid micromanagement.
4. Use ‘SMART + Q’ approach; set Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time bound goals, +Q is a reminder to include necessary qualitative measures. 
5. Keep a record for agreed objectives.
Team DynamicsTeams made of smart people deliver outstanding results and every smart leader wants to build a high performance team.
Effective teams are small in size and need to be managed skillfully.
Leaders need to pay importance to human dynamics and processes in the group.
1. See yourself as a team member even if you really not.
2. Build trust; make it safe for people to challenge and be challenged.
3. Create a safe space to air disagreements to surface and resolve conflicts.
4. Know your team; the better you know your team, more trust they’ll have on you.
5. The real work of team building happens on the job; successful teams come together around the work to achieve stuff.
Remote TeamsAs diverse talent is distributed  around the world, the ability to lead teams of remote knowledge is an increasingly valuable asset in the toolkit of successful smart leadership.1. Master technology.
2. Establish a personal connection.
3. Arrange video/phone conference calls and ensure presence of all team members.
4. As a leader, model behavior you expect of others.
5. Share the pain.
Working with different culturesIn a complex global world, the ability to work successfully with people from different backgrounds is critically important.
Clients increasingly value the ability to work across borders and cultures.
1. Remember, when people act differently to you, it is neither right nor wrong- it is just different.
2. Be aware of your own unconscious cultural bias.
3. Always assume that people are acting with the best of intentions and in good faith.Reflect and research other’s cultural preferences.
4. Be willing to adjust and adopt.
5. Take more pauses and breaks to assist understanding, reflection and time for others to formulate a response.

Leading the Organization

We’ll discuss 13 principles ofleading the organization” in the following section.

PrincipleElaborationHow to Practice It
Business DevelopmentSelling your company’s products and services, or your own services is an ongoing responsibility of leaders.1. Focus on building strong relationships that deliver work for long-term.
2. Constantly look for opportunities to make or reinforce contact.
3. Conduct regular team meetings.
4. Use your network.
5. Constantly evaluate your book of business; what is its value and how do you keep it topped up.
6. Involve juniors; get them to do preparatory work for clients and client meetings.
7. Take them in the meeting, this will aid in people development.
Leadership with ClientsSuccess in leading a client service team depends directly on the nature of relationship.
Clients value professionals who have interest in them personally, not as a client but an individual too.
1. You only have a limited time so focus on reading time on the sector that is your ‘major’.
2. Ask right questions about the clients.
3. Stay up-to-date on client’s business.
4. Get off the fence, have an opinion on the issues of the day.
Change ManagementYou have to respond quickly to the changes in the market place; it is better to proactive in anticipating change and respond accordingly.1. Start with the people, create and share your vision.
2. Be realistic about change management and planning on the timelines of proper engagement.
3. Build capacity, take risks.
4. Encourage people to share ideas, suggestions and thoughts about achieving the end result.
5. Appoint ‘change champions’ who can lead initiatives, trials, projects or piloting new ways of working.
6. Be flexible- learn and develop as you grow.
Diversity and InclusivenessHigh performing, inclusive and diverse teams make a positive difference.
From a leader’s viewpoint, diverse teams can be more demanding but they are also a lot more fun to lead.
1. Identify your colleagues, their age, religion, color.
2. Ask yourself, what constituency views are missing and how can you add them.
3. Bring in visitors from other departments or organizations to offer challenging viewpoints.
4. Bring different thinking and perspective to your team.
5. Leading with behavior that people expect from you provides authenticity to the delivery of messages.
Politics and InfluencePolitics is simply the process of exercising influence and is essential for you as a leader, both for your client teams and among your peers.
Appropriate, ethical use of the political process in the organization is essential for long-term success.
1. Recognize politics and influence as the way things are done in the organizations.
2. Share intentions and motives with your people.
3. Beware of your reputation and intentions.
4. Make sure your behavior is consistent with your intentions.
5. Build coalitions; expand your network.
Leading Your BossIt is a process of supporting and positively influencing the boss for the good of everyone.
Your people expect you to represent their views and to look after their interests and well-being.
1. Have regular catch-up meetings with your boss so that he knows you are on top of the agenda.
2. When there is an issue and you need to refer upwards, keep atleast two possible solutions in mind, and make sure you have one preferred option among those.
3. Volunteer doing valuable tasks, of three types,  for your boss: (a) those that can make a difference, (b) you believe you can do well, (c) things from which you can learn.
4. Get stuff done ahead of time.
5. Be absolutely trust worthy.
Leading Your EqualsLeading people who are your technical peers requires a continuous process of encouragement, influencing and persuading- and doing so in such a way that they are willing to forgo things they want to do, to work with you for a common good.1. Remember someone has asked you to do a job they think you can do very well.
2. Make sure everyone knows that whatever you are doing is for the betterment of the whole firm.
3. Shift your focus; your job is now to make your peers successful.
4. Act as a role model.
5. Be very aware that you are judged by the company you keep, the colleagues you lunch with, meet with, projects you are personally involved with.
MentoringMentoring is an advisory relation with colleagues that is usually about long-term career options and career development.
The best mentors make you think, freely share experiences and wisdom, and are prepared to open their networks for you.
1. Mentors are usually people, you need to set the place, set the agenda, be clear on what to ask and what to say and generally schedule to fit in with their requirements.
2. Think carefully about your purpose; be clear on the role of mentor in your career.
3. Be critical, question and evaluate the advice, as the mentor responds to what you ask.
4. Agree on ground rules, boundaries are important in making relationships work.
NetworkingSmart leaders know that their personal and professional connections are an important asset, and that the ability to make those connections is an importance competence to be developed.
They create a web of personal contacts to provide support, feedback and resources needed to get things done.
1. At events, research the event, who will be attending, select a small group of people you want to meet; be clear in your mind, why you want to meet them.
2. Make yourself memorable in first impression and in 15 seconds, speak concise, clear and without jargon.
3. You can carry your business/contact cards.
4. Have a number of topics in mind that you can use to initiate conversations.
5. Create and maintain the right network.
Innovation and CreativityInnovation often comes from unifying ideas from two or more different places to enable something new; however truly innovative breakthroughs are rare things.1. Ask the clients about the trends they are following and inquire their worries, then apply these to your business.
2. Ask the things you think, your juniors know more than you; learn from them and increase your grip on the matters.
3. Don’t view innovation as a threat.
4. Reward people who have tried to do things differently.
5. Think ‘yes and’ rather than ‘yes but’, ask for something rather than anything.
Managing StakeholdersEveryone from your boss, your boss’s boss, your team, your colleague’s teams, clients and customers- counts as stakeholders.1. Consider your stakeholders.
2. Position your stakeholders into four types: (a) High Authority High Influence, (b) High Authority Low Influence, (c)High Influence Low Authority and (d) Low Influence Low Authority.
3. Communicate and deal them in order of preference.
4. Always communicate regularly and on time.
5. Build and reinforce your stakeholder base.
6. Reach out- make time to reach out and communicate on one-to-one basis with stake-holders.
StrategyStrategy is the manner you choose to reach the destination.
Narrative building is the key, agreed strategy needs to be communicated numerous times.
1. Strategy has three pieces of work: (a) set the direction, (b) build engagement with the team and (c) ensuring that teams have the capacity to resources to deliver.
2. Agree your desired result with your boss and link it to firm’s direction and objectives.
3. Get input from the colleagues; it is important for two reasons, (a) to get a more comprehensive solution and (b) ensure that they are committed to executing the solution.
4. Consider who might try and hinder you, why and how they might do so.
VisionIf you are going to lead, you need to have a starting idea for the goal. There is no point in being a leader with a vision that people don’t follow. Smart people need to have a say in the destination and the proposed mode of travel.1. Bridge current reality to the vision; create a shared vision.
2. Share the action plan to make the aim a reality.
3. Set out strategic planning for the objective.
4. Build short-term and long-term goals.
5. Ensure every person understands the vision.  

Read, Read and Reread “ How to Lead Smart People” to master the art of Leading Smart People!

Related Literature: The Five Levels of Leadership”,The 360 Degree Leader“, “14 Essential Traits of a Great Leader and How to Develop Them“, “Code of the Extraordinary Mind”, “Extreme Ownership, Dare to Lead, The Leadership Challenge, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team andAre You a Leader.

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