December 20, 2014

Fierce Leadership: A Bold Alternative to the Worst “Best” Practices of Business Today

Fierce LeadershipAs a marketing professional, I’m very sensitive to the power of words. Watching the news, listening to politicians and observing the myriad messages that wash over us minute by minute has made me exceptionally sensitive to what words we choose and how they influence those around us.

Companies have their very own style of corporate-speak that we have become accustomed to. In an effort to increase productivity and profitability, leaders have also introduced a series of so called best practices.

In her new book, “Fierce Leadership: A Bold Alternative to the Worst “Best” Practices of Business Today,” Susan Scott questions many of these “best practice” programs and outlines how they are causing more harm than good.

What’s the Book About?

First of all, let me say that this book isn’t as much about leadership per se as it is about the overall quality and usefulness of our conversations in business. Susan’s premise is that real, honest and authentic conversations are part and parcel of good leadership.

The best practices so many leaders rely on can actually obstruct useful conversation. If that’s the case, then these best practices need to go.

How Catching Squid Can Help in Business

To see if your best practices are hindering your performance, you need to use a special technique Susan calls “squid eye.” Squid Eye is what Hawaiian fisherman use to describe the ability to see the squid while he’s blending into his natural environment. It’s the ability to see the squid even when he doesn’t want you to see him.

The premise is that these best practices are covering and hiding potential that is holding you back, but you can’t see it any more because the practice has become so ingrained that its effects have become intertwined and look quite normal.

The book uses “Squid Eye” to uncover and outline 6 Fierce practices that Susan has uncovered in her years of teaching Fierce Conversations to leaders.

Take this example from the book:  “Turn 360 Degree Anonymous Feedback into 365 Face-to-Face Feedback”.   In this chapter Susan focuses on the 360 Degree feedback process that is so popular today. There is just one problem with this. It is anonymous and disconnected from both the good and bad feedback that your team needs to improve. She says turn it into face-to-face feedback.   Because these kinds of conversations take a high degree of integrity and guts, they might be challenging at first. This is why Susan includes a wonderful discussion guide and outline you can use to get you started with these conversations right away.

The chapters titles are interesting because they take you from the current practice to a future, better practice. For example:

  • From Hiring for Smarts, to Hiring for Smart Heart
  • From Holding People Accountable to Modeling Accountability and Holding People Able
  • From Customer Centricity to Customer Connectivity

Who Should Get this Book?

Because Susan Scott’s clients are mostly Fortune 500 companies it seems most obvious that this book would be great for anyone with a leadership position in a corporation. But this book has benefits for a broader audience because it focuses on quality conversations. So if you are someone who has to get things done by communicating with people, this book is ideal for you.  This includes small business owners and managers.

What You’ll Love About This Book

You’ll love Susan Scott. Her writing is engaging, personal and to the point. I found myself laughing out loud at her insights. She is daring. She is bold and she has done something few leaders dare; to face the fact that their conversations have gotten stale, pointless and empty.

I received a review copy of this book, and quickly became enthralled with it.  I found myself practicing many of the points that Susan brings out in her book. I’ve already seen improvements in the way I manage my business, my relationships and my conversations.  Get this book because you can’t afford to live another day without the lessons she offers.

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Ivana Taylor About the Author: Ivana Taylor is CEO of Third Force, a strategic firm that helps small businesses get and keep their ideal customer.  She’s the co-author of the book “Excel for Marketing Managers” and proprietor of DIYMarketers, a site for in-house marketers.  Her blog is Strategy Stew.

6 Comments ▼

Ivana Taylor - Book Editor


Ivana Taylor Ivana Taylor is Book Editor for Small Business Trends and publisher of DIYMarketers , where she shares daily do-it-yourself marketing tips, and is the President of Third Force, Inc., a marketing firm that specializes in getting your ideal customer to choose you. Ivana is the book editor for Small Business Trends and co-author of the book "Excel for Marketing Managers."

6 Reactions

  1. It seems to be a book about awareness and the value of relationships within business. When I looked at the cover of the book it reminded me of the herd, a captive audience being manipulated by the hidden shepherd and his friendly dog leading them to wherever. A powerful image for a pragmatic novel, maybe! A guide on how to be successful in business by being the right kind of leader.

  2. Ivana,

    I always enjoy reading your book reviews. At the moment, I am reading several books at the same time. Read my post, Notes On Books And Notebooks, if you are interested in knowing the titles! ;)

  3. Nice heads-up on what sounds to be a very valuable book for business folks of all strips. Thanks.

  4. Check out Bert Martinez’s system on Business Leadership and how to improve any company!

  5. Check out Bert Martinez’s system on Business Leadership and how to strengthen your company!

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