What makes some leaders so effective when the stakes are high, while others fall short? Why are some able to not only survive but to lead their organizations to new heights even in risky, fast-changing times? The answer is succinct but multi-layered: such leaders display courage, judgment, and fortitude.
High-stakes leadership does not require unnatural powers, nor is it predicated on a dangerous situation. The three signature character traits can be cultivated by anyone at any level in any organization, big or small. Organizational and leadership consultant Constance Dierickx describes high-stakes leadership in a simple, three-part model that illuminates the mindsets, strategies, and tactics leaders must draw upon to make tough decisions, take an unpopular stand, or ignore convention, providing real-world examples across a range of sectors and industries.
Dierickx developed her model of high-stakes leadership to help her clients—executives at organizations ranging from start-ups to nonprofits to large, global companies—better define what they need to bring strategy to life. This, she found, is the great gulf in business, the vast space between idea and results. High-Stakes Leadership helps leaders sharpen their ability to:
- act decisively, with clarity and focus
- test ideas using reason, and course correct as needed
- be resolute and inspire others to continue, even in the face of challenges
Leading requires the courage to make conscious decisions about what to do, the judgment to separate information from short-term trends, and the fortitude to remain true to oneself and one’s mission. When leaders do these things, they also become teachers, leading their teams by example, often without realizing it. The essential aspects of good leadership endure even as the environment and tactics change. Indeed, courage, judgment, and fortitude are not merely tools for survival, they are the means by which we sculpt the future.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgments; Preface; Introduction; Chapter 1: High Stakes ; PART I: COURAGE; Chapter 2: Courage in Crisis; Chapter 3: Culture; Chapter 4: Strategic Courage; PART II: JUDGMENT; Chapter 5: Grounded in Values; Chapter 6: Bold Discernment; Chapter 7: Brains; PART III: FORTITUDE; Chapter 8: Leverage; Chapter 9: The Process of Discipline ; Chapter 10: Truth; Chapter 11: High Stakes Leaders of the Future ; Conclusion; About the Author; Notes; References
Constance Dierickx, PhD, specializes in working with organizations in high-stakes situation such as mergers, acquisitions, CEO succession, strategic change, and crisis. Known as "the secret weapon," she has worked with clients such as AT&T, Belk, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Chubb, Darden Restaurants, IBM, Johnson Controls, NextGear Capital, Schnabel Engineering, and Westinghouse. Dierickx has advised more than five hundred executives on five continents in more than twenty industries.
Earlier in her career, Dierickx was a broker at Merrill Lynch, where she observed firsthand the power of emotion and perceptual distortion on major decisions. Her curiosity about the behavior of clients and colleagues led her to study psychology and decision making. She has been interviewed for the Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, Fortune, and USA Today and has written articles for publications such as American Business Magazine, Boards and Directors, Corporate Board Member, Directorship, and Chief Executive magazine.
Dierickx lives in Atlanta with her husband, Michael, a Certified Financial PlannerTM. An enthusiastic amateur chef and traveler, she also maintains an inexplicable interest in boxing.
Visit Constance at www.cdconsultinggrp.com.
Featured Author Profiles
Constance Dierickx illustrates HIGH-STAKES LEADERSHIP with stories of leaders who exemplify her key leadership qualities of courage, judgement, and fortitude. I'd add another quality to this list: Her leaders show a degree of grace that is uncommon in the business world. These examples, backed by research, show what makes great leader during turbulent times.
-Daniel H. Pink, author of DRIVE and TO SELL IS HUMAN
Constance Dierickx takes you on a journey through courage that starts with your intellect, enters your heart, and refreshes your soul. High-Stakes Leadership is the alchemy that creates that combination of smarts, guts, and courage that produce brilliance, a quality not in great abundance in business today.
What struck me most about this book is that all of us are in high-stakes businesses, but too many of us act as if we can be successful in some safe zone. Constance pulls away the safety net and teaches us how to soar.
-Alan Weiss, PhD, author of Million Dollar Consulting, Lifestorming (with Marshall Goldsmith), and over 60 other books.
Constance is the only person I know who transitioned from a stockbroker to a psychologist. Perhaps that is what makes her insights and advice so relevant and pragmatic. I have a deep appreciation for her wise insight and counsel which she captures this book.
-Walt Rabe, PE, President and Chief Executive Officer Schnabel Engineering
High Stakes Leadership is straightforward and uncomplicated- full of real world examples that illustrate the qualities that distinguish great leaders. I especially relate to the stories of leaders who made mistakes or failed before achieving success. Constance shows us that the right attributes and skills help leaders learn, face reality, dust themselves off and snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. I’m glad I read this book, and you will be too.
-Bob Lamm: Co-Chair, Securities and Corporate Governance Practice, Gunster, Yoakley & Stewart, P.A., Fort Lauderdale, FL, and Independent Senior Advisor, Deloitte Center for Board Effectiveness
Leaders are continually challenged by disruptions via asymmetrical events and black swans. Constance Dierickx provides insights into the abilities that leaders must develop, hone and possess to win out. This pragmatic book will assist leaders and their teams make better decisions with clarity and purpose.
-Joel Koblentz, Founder, The Koblentz Group
Constance Dierickx looks at leadership from the inside out and the outside in. She, quite rightly makes the point that neither individual characteristics nor circumstance alone, shape us. This gives leaders, whose responsibility it is to teach others, hope and instruction.
-Arthur D. Kraus, Chartered Financial Advisor, Partner, Capital Intelligence Associates
Constance Dierickx’s High Stakes Leadership informs, entertains and most of all teaches timeless lessons. Her pragmatism and deep knowledge of behavior are a powerful combination and add lasting value to the reader.
-Katherine Jackson, PhD former Chief Technology Officer,Westinghouse
Constance combines strategic thinking and pragmatic advice in a way I find unique. She asks difficult questions that need to be asked. These qualities and style come through clearly in High Stakes Leadership. It is a valuable guide to executives faced with executing major changes with far reaching consequences – high stakes situations.
-Colin Boyd, Chief Information Officer, Komatsu Mining Company