Terry Pearce’s revised edition of Leading Out Loud: A Guide For Engaging Others In Creating The Future is a welcome guidepost for today’s leaders feeling pinched between the need for organizational change and a workforce that’s tired of flavor-of-the-day management. To sum it up in a few words, the book is about inspiring change by communicating with personal authenticity.
Pearce identifies four steps leading to personal awareness: discovering what matters, emotional awareness, connecting with others, and letting the authentic voice come through in written messages. I was happy to see the focus on writing. What a waste it would be to gain clarity and purposeful direction, only to relegate the important written communications to the marketing department.
The author suggests that all positive change starts by stepping back to draw on the leader’s values – and these stem from personal experience – something each of us has in abundance if we will take the time to examine our own life lessons.
The well of human experience is indeed deep. But the treasures are worth the effort of going into this water, especially if you want to have a conscious and meaningful impact on the world in which you live. You don’t need to sit in a cave for twenty years; at least some of the treasure is accessible in your normal life’s context. Once you discover the themes that matter most to you, you can convert them to inspiration for others–but only if you are courageous, disciplined, and emotionally attuned enough to do so.
Each chapter is full of real life stories and experiences to make lessons easy to grasp and immediately relevant. The stories lend a nice balance to the material which is, at times, a bit academic in style. I particularly enjoyed reading about his selection process for management candidates. Read this question and decide how well you’d do on this one: “What have you done, in the last 12 months, with your own money and on your own time, to develop your capability to lead?” Wow. Let the stammering begin.
He makes an interesting study of relationships that must be considered before launching any change initiative.
- The relationship between the leader and the message
- The relationship between the leader and the constituents
- The relationship between the constituents and the message
Pearce defines the ultimate task of the leader like this:
To edit the story of the organization to change the ending, to infuse a new plot line into a story that has become stale, lifeless, or irrelevant.
Effective, sustainable, worthwhile change begins with caring for others and building trust. He lays out questions to help the leader find their best point of empathy.
- What am I truly thankful for, with regard to this chance to communicate or to those I will interact with?
- On whose shoulders do I stand?
- What are people likely to be thinking and feeling about this issue?
- What emotional and mental resistance will others have to this change?
I recommend this book for anyone in a leadership position. Executive coaches will also enjoy this book as it facilitates identifying one’s values and incorporating those values into a teachable point of view. You’ll emerge a better leader for having invested the time to work through Pearce’s discovery points.