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Better Under Pressure: How Great Leaders Bring Out the Best in Themselves and Others Hardcover – May 3, 2011
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An original and noteworthy contribution to executive selection which is invaluable to those charged with top executive assessment.” Chartered Management Institute
Better Under Pressure compliments books like Clutch, but with examples more specific to organizations other than professional sports. Even if you operate a one-person small business, it will give you a blueprint for how to conduct your best performance under pressure.”- Small Business Trends (smallbiztrends.com)
Listed under Summer  reading suggestions for federal leaders” - Washington Post
Personal and practical, this book is a potent resource for aspiring, emerging, and seasoned business leaders alike. Most mindful!” CEO Refresher
an extremely interesting book that deserves a wide readership.” - Execupundit.com
An extremely worthwhile read for leaders, or aspiring leaders, in these turbulent times.” - BusinessandLeadership.com
What an intellectual feat! Justin takes leaders on a tour of the attributes of truly great CEOs, but the book is so much more than that. By showing us how those attributes connect and come to life, Justin’s stories reveal how the best leaders think and act under the hardest circumstances.”
--Ralph Larsen, former Chairman and CEO, Johnson & Johnson
I thoroughly enjoyed reading the interviews with the CEO's and Justin's insightful analyses of the lessons learned. His concept of "reaching full potential" hits the nail right on the head.”
--Marijn Dekkers, CEO, Bayer AG
Better Under Pressure is a well-researched, conceptually sound, practical leadership guidebook for global business executives. Instead of serving up simplistic leadership pabulum, Menkes provides a rigorous and clear-eyed look at the world stage facing CEOs and the critical judgments required for their companies to survive and thrive.”
--Noel Tichy, Professor and Director Global Citizenship Initiative at the Ross School University of Michigan, and co-author (with Warren Bennis) of Judgment: How Winning Leaders Make Great Calls
Justin Menkes captures the essence of leadership in today’s tough environment: getting the best out of your people. In this thoughtfully written book, he shows aspiring leaders how to successfully engage and inspire their people, both through their own actions, and through their ability to thrive under pressure.”
--Irene Rosenfeld, CEO, Kraft
About the Author
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But as instructive it is to learn why some leaders succeed, it's certainly just as instructive (and more fun) to read why - and how - others fail. The author's unique position within the world-class executive search firm Spencer Stuart gives him access to hundreds of confidential assessments of leaders who have been considered for the top positions in the world's most prestigious Fortune 500 companies. Without disclosing names (though it's sure fun to try and guess who they are!), Justin Menkes takes us step by step through a series of spectacular leadership blunders. He then explains why these leaders buckled at moments in which other CEOs would have shone.
This isn't a simple "how to" book, and I urge readers not to approach it this way. Instead, consider "Better Under Pressure" a thoughtful manual of excellence that teaches us to recognize how we confront and handle the stress that naturally accompanies leadership in the 21st century. Justin Menkes then gives the tools, exercises, and encouragement to help leaders (and their organizations) achieve the same results as the successful CEOs interviewed for this book.
* Leaders' ability to realize their maximum potential and the potential of their workforce is the most profound way that they can differentiate themselves.
* Leadership means realizing potential - in yourself and in the people you lead.
* That no person has a fixed identity.
* The first key in realizing your people's potential is to bring to the forefront the threats and uncertainties from the external environment and to make them palpable to your people.
* An awareness of actual circumstances means that you balance what is known and unknown to prepare for multiple plausible events.
* Effective leadership requires an individual to take in both positive and negative messages, recognize their respective merits, and use the data to pursue a strategy that is most likely to yield positive outcomes in the future.
* Impervious optimism blocks an awareness of actual circumstances and is a fatal flaw to anyone trying to lead in a world of ongoing duress.
* High sensitivity refers to heightened radar, a more acute, broader spectrum of awareness of what is actually happening.
* Great leaders must balance: knowing when to intervene in a problem to set things straight - and when to create a context in which the participants can take responsibility.
* Great leaders do not perceive the same boundaries that others do.
* What would my role model do?
Paul B. Thornton---Author of, Leadership -Off the Wall
It is a serious work to be preferably read through in one go and then revisited selectively from time to time. It is not the typical "How to ..." leadership guide with the HBR references but more a work to be dipped into for some deep and private introspection. The interview passages with the CEOs and their analysis interpersed throughout are very revealing as so are some of the executive case situations discussed in the book.
What you can take from most of the chapters could depend a lot on how you would like to think through on the concepts presented which could be a function of your present work situation and profile. The book also has a small number of "timed exercises" built in for further "reflection" but it is not for the faint hearted.
Some of the references presented in chapters 3, 5 and 6 are first rate and are definitely worth exploring for more depth and clarity. Going through the "marshmallow studies" (in chapter 5) which originated from Stanford University Professor Walter Mischel's seminal work on "delay in gratification in four-year-olds" and thanks to the reference(s) was in itself a "moment of truth" for me. Though the chapters do have a strong psychological bent there are some tremendous learnings and insights to be gained.
All in all an excellent read and a worthwhile investment!