How the Best Leaders Lead

Proven Secrets to Getting the Most Out of Yourself and Others

 How the Best Leaders Lead

Author: Brian Tracy
Pub Date: February 2010
Print Edition: $24.95
Print ISBN: 9780814414347
Page Count: 256
Format: Hardback
e-Book ISBN: 9780814414354

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The Race Is On

‘‘Great hopes make everything possible.’’


We are living in the most challenging times for business and economics

that we have experienced in our lifetimes. Only the fit

will survive. The race is on, and you are in it. If you are not committed

to winning, to conquering against all odds, you will be

brushed aside and passed over by people and companies more

determined to win than you are.

Some time ago, Harvard University made three predictions

that apply to the current economic situation. First, they said,

there will be more change in your business in the year ahead

than ever before. Second, there will be more competition in your

business than ever before. And third, there will be more opportunities

in your business than ever before.

But these opportunities will be different from the business

that you are accustomed to in the present, and you must move

quickly to take advantage of them if you are going to survive and

thrive against your competitors.

As it happens, these predictions were made in 1952. A fourth

prediction was added later: Those individuals and organizations

that do not quickly adapt to the inevitable and unavoidable

changes of today will be in different fields or out of business

within one or two years.

Charles Darwin said, ‘‘Survival goes not necessarily to the

strongest but to the species that is most adaptable to changing


Damon Runyon once wrote, ‘‘The race is not necessarily to

the swift, nor the contest to the strong, but that’s the way to bet.’’

You have heard the old saying that the Chinese character for

crisis is the same character used for opportunity. This is because

within almost every crisis there is an opportunity of some kind,

if you can find it.

Brilliant on the Basics

When Vince Lombardi took over the Green Bay Packers, he was

asked if he was going to change the players, the plays, the training,

or other key aspects of the team. He replied, ‘‘I’m not going

to change anything; we are simply going to become brilliant on

the basics.’’

The Green Bay Packers had been doing poorly for some years.

In his first meeting with the team, he famously picked up a football

and said, ‘‘Gentleman, this is a football.’’

From then on, Lombardi concentrated on the basics, running

drills aimed at making his team faster and more effective at executing

plays than any other team. He took the Green Bay Packers

to two Super Bowl Championships and made football coaching


Consistent with the Lombardi method, the key to leading and

succeeding in times of crisis and rapid change is to become ‘‘brilliant

on the basics.’’

In this book, based on my work with more than a thousand

companies in fifty-two countries, I will share some of the best

thinking and action skills used by top executives and company

owners to achieve outstanding results in difficult markets against

determined competition.

When you practice these ideas and put them into action, you

will get results out of all proportion to your efforts. Sometimes a

single change in direction, inspired by an insight or an idea in

this book, can change your business, and your life, quickly and


The Seven Responsibilities of Leadership

There are seven basics that never change, the key responsibilities

of leadership in any organization. On a scale of 1 to 10, your

ability in each of these seven areas determines your value to

yourself and your contribution to your organization. Here they


Your First Responsibility: Set and Achieve

Business Goals

The number-one reason for business and executive failure is the

inability to achieve the sales, growth, and profitability goals for

which the leader is responsible.

Setting and achieving business goals embraces every part of

strategic and market planning, including products, services, people,

productivity, promotion, finances, and competitive responses.

We will touch on these critical factors in the pages


The Second Responsibility of Leadership: Innovate

and Market

As Peter Drucker said, the purpose of a business is to ‘‘create and

keep a customer.’’

Only through continuous innovation of products, services,

processes, and promotional methods can companies create and

keep customers. As Bruce Henderson of the Boston Consulting

Group wrote, ‘‘All strategic planning is market planning.’’

The Third Responsibility of Leadership: Solve

Problems and Make Decisions

This is so important that I will dedicate an entire chapter to the

problem solving and decision making skills that you absolutely

must master to be an effective leader. Remember, a goal unachieved

is merely a problem unsolved. A sales target unachieved

is a problem unsolved. The only obstacles that stand between

you and the business success you desire are problems, difficulties,

hindrances, and barriers. Your ability to go over, under, or

around these problems is central to your success.

The Fourth Responsibility of Leadership: Set

Priorities and Focus on Key Tasks

One of the most important jobs you do is to deploy limited resources,

especially of people and money, into those areas where

they can make the greatest contribution to the success of the


The law of the excluded alternative says, ‘‘Doing one thing

means not doing something else.’’

Time is your scarcest resource. It is limited, perishable, irretrievable,

and irreplaceable. The way you allocate your time can

be the critical determinant of everything you achieve—or fail to


The Fifth Responsibility of Leadership: Be a Role

Model to Others

Albert Schweitzer once wrote, ‘‘You must teach men at the school

of example, for they will learn at no other.’’

Throughout the ages, the example that you establish in your

character, attitude, personality, and work habits, and especially

the way you treat other people, sets the tone for your department

or organization.

You do not raise morale in an organization; it always filters

down from the top. There are no bad soldiers under a good general.

One of the great questions for you to continually ask yourself

is, ‘‘What kind of a company would my company be if everyone

in it was just like me?’’

Marshall Goldsmith, top executive coach for senior executives

in the Fortune 1000, has demonstrated over the years that a

single change in a behavioral characteristic of a key executive can

cause a positive multiplier effect that impacts the behavior of an

enormous number of people.

Leaders conduct themselves as though everyone is watching,

even when no one is watching.

The Sixth Responsibility of Leadership: Persuade,

Inspire, and Motivate Others to Follow You

Tom Peters said that the best leaders don’t create followers, they

create leaders. It’s true that you want your people to have initiative

and the liberty to act on that initiative. But all initiatives must

be in the support and service of what you are trying to achieve as

a leader.

If people aren’t following you, you are not a leader. If no one

is listening to you, believes you, or cares what you say, you are

not going to succeed. If people are only going through the motions

to earn a paycheck, the greatest business strategy in the

world will fail.

You must motivate others to follow your vision, to support

and achieve the goals and objectives that you have set, to buy

into the mission of the organization as you see it. Today, getting

others to follow you takes more than command and control. You

have to earn their trust, respect, and confidence. That is the key

to sustainable success as a leader.

The Seventh Responsibility of Leadership: Perform

and Get Results

In the final analysis, your ability to get the results that are expected

of you is the critical factor that determines your success.

In the pages ahead, I will show you a series of simple, proven,

practical methods and techniques used by top executives and

business owners everywhere to get better, faster, and more predictable

results in any business or organization or in any economic


Each Crisis Contains an Opportunity

‘‘Professional soldiers pray for peace, but hope for war.’’

What does this saying mean? It means that soldiers pray for

peace because war is so terrible: Every sensible person wants to

live out their life in peace and for as long as possible, including


But only during warfare, during critical moments on the battlefield,

is it possible to achieve distinction and be rapidly promoted.

Professional soldiers hope for war, in the back of their

minds, so they can demonstrate their fitness and capability for

higher command.

Viktor Frankl, a survivor of Auschwitz during World War II

and the founder of Logotherapy, famously wrote, ‘‘The last great

freedom is the freedom to choose your own mental attitude

under any set of conditions.’’

A senior executive friend of mine, whose company had suffered

sales declines of 40 percent in less than a year and was

reeling from the reversals in the economy, told me how he maintained

a positive attitude every day.

He said, ‘‘Each morning, when I get up, I have a decision to

make. I can be happy, or I can be very happy. I therefore decide

that today, I will be very happy, and I allow that attitude to guide

me throughout the day, no matter what happens.’’

You too can choose your own attitude under any given set of

circumstances. You can decide to be positive, constructive, and

forward-looking. You can look upon each ‘‘crisis’’ as an ‘‘opportunity,’’

even if it is only an opportunity for you to grow, mature,

become stronger, and perhaps even achieve the kind of ‘‘battlefield

promotions’’ that will stay with you for the rest of your career.

Welcome to the twenty-first century!

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