Stories and Lessons About Leadership in 50 Words or Less

Are leaders born, or are they made? I believe it takes both. One has to be born with the ability to feel comfortable taking charge and leading others. But it takes life’s lessons—and the insights gleaned from them—to build a great leader. That’s why I apply the simple lesson I learned in 10th grade—“Earn it”—to every aspect of my life and career.

The “Fish Rot from the Head Down” series is the culmination of a lifetime of learning, and is currently comprised of two volumes with a total of 50 chapters. Each chapter is told in 50 words or less, and is followed by probing questions and space for you to write, work and reflect.

Implement the insights I share in my books—or invest in deeper learning through my talksandworkshops—and I am confident you will succeed like never before!

“This book has powerful relevance and resonance for leaders at any stage of their career. Short, insightful leadership lessons are then explored through the lens of the readers’ own experiences. What an authentic and life altering exercise in reflection which will enable every reader to become the leader you always dreamed that you could (and should) be.” ​

Maureen O. Hurley, Retired, formerly Chief Administrative Officer, Rich Products Corporation

LESSONS

These chapters offer a glimpse into the insights shared in Volume I and Volume II. Scroll down to read a few excerpts. I hope they inspire you to purchase these books to assist in your journey to become a better leader, or help others in their quest!

CHAPTER 1

INTERVIEW AS HARD AS YOU ARE INTERVIEWED.

We can’t be our best or do our best if there isn’t a fit. No matter how enticing a job description is, or how much money is offered, make darn sure you fit with the culture of the organization, those you will work with, and the one you’ll report to. ​ ​

CHAPTER 4

MICRO-MANAGE: GET THE LEAST.
TRANSFER RESPONSIBILITY: GET THE BEST.

Micromanaging creates minions. We strip others of feeling pride of ownership. Instead, frame expectations (goals or outcomes), transfer responsibility and accountability, and provide tools for success. Then, get out of the way! Sit back and see what happens when others can take pride in their own leadership and work. ​ ​ ​

Chapter 9

GESTURES FROM THE TOP MATTER. STORY II: APPRECIATE.

A CEO I reported to taught me the importance of appreciating. On each associate’s work anniversary, we received a card thanking us for being part of the team, hand-signed by the CEO. With more than 1,200 associates, this took commitment. What a message it sent that EVERYONE was valued.

CHAPTER 14

THE POWER OF THE HANDWRITTEN WORD.

Nothing is more impactful than a handwritten note. Keep stationery by your side and use it all the time. In a world where everything is fast and convenient, take time to pick up a pen and be deliberate. Don’t depend on e-mail to always say thanks.

CHAPTER 23

LEARN AS MUCH AS A MISTAKE HAS COST.

We all make mistakes. Some larger than others. Our responsibility is to learn as much as the mistake has cost or impacted the company. And pay that learning forward. If we do, we are the professional we were hired to be and worth keeping.

Chapter 27

SIMPLICITY. CONSISTENCY. CLARITY.

“You are screaming so loud I can’t understand you!”

Information flying at us every day from every corner ends up as a confusing scream. When we communicate simply, consistently, and with unfailing clarity, we become a voice others can hear. Speak with precision, and others will know precisely what you’re trying to say.

CHAPTER 34

TRIBES SABOTAGE CULTURE. AND THEY DON'T EVEN KNOW IT.

Way too often leaders build teams who adore them. I once witnessed a department with signs everywhere promoting their leader “XXXX for President!” When you see tribes forming, your leaders are leading people down the wrong path. Remember: an organization is not about a person. It’s about a mission and a vision.

CHAPTER 38

SWIM TOGETHER OR DROWN.

No one can be expected to follow a leadership team that isn’t in sync. It is imperative that your leaders—at any level—figure it out, behind closed doors. When the door opens, be prepared to lead together. If you aren’t, you will be responsible for the demise of your culture—and maybe even your company.

Chapter 42

EVERYONE'S AN ADULT. TREAT THEM THAT WAY.

Do not talk down to people. Do not micro-manage others. If you do any of these things, you won’t be able to lead people. In fact, you shouldn’t be a leader at all. ​ ​

CHAPTER 46

BE OPEN TO CHANGE. BUT KEEP A STEADY COURSE.

If the target is always moving, others don’t know where to go. But there is more than one way to get there once it’s established. Be open to suggestions and encourage conversation. When everyone keeps the end goal in mind, anyone can help you go from good to better to great.

CHAPTER 49

TITLES ARE BESTOWED. BUT RESPECT IS EARNED.

A quote from my father. We may be given big titles, authority, make money, sit on boards, oversee others, manage big budgets, and work for big name brands. But none of that matters if we haven’t earned the respect of others. Without authentic followership, the word leader does not exist.

© 2020 :: Gretchen Fierle

© 2020 :: Gretchen Fierle