|Welcome to this issue of "Dr. T's Timely Tips" by Dr. Tony Alessandra. Please send your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org!
Dwight Eisenhower - Leadership Genius One of the interesting things about great leaders is the degree to which they're tolerant of people who are very different from themselves. Under the most difficult circumstances in the Second World War, Dwight Eisenhower managed to create a coalition including the egomaniacal Viscount Montgomery, the self-effacing Omar Bradley, and the gifted but totally bizarre George F. Patton - and the result was success in the Normandy Invasion.
In fact, Eisenhower's ability to deal with different kinds of people may have been his greatest asset as a leader. After the war, he made the somewhat unlikely switch from leading a huge army to being the president of Columbia University. The transition wasn't without a few bumps in the road. At that time, there was a Professor at Columbia named Isidore Rabi, who had worked on the development of the atomic bomb and who subsequently won the Nobel Prize. At a faculty ceremony in honor of the professor's achievement, Eisenhower made a brief speech. It included a remark about how it was always good to see an employee of the university get recognized. At that point, Professor Rabi interrupted him and said, "Excuse me, sir, but the faculty are not employees of the university. The faculty are the university!" This was a witty and somewhat confrontational remark - and Eisenhower might have taken offense. But he loved it! Rabi became his closest friend on the faculty - and when he became President of a somewhat larger organization than Columbia, he appointed Rabi to a number of influential positions.
As you learn to access leadership genius, you're bound to find yourself in some difficult conversations. Here's a technique that cannot only express tolerance, but can also clarify people's thinking in a very productive way. In my listening programs, I call it the Monk's Feedback Exercise and it works like this: Person A states a position. Person B restates A's position, and then states his or her own position. Person A has to restate B's position before replying to it, and so on. I guarantee this exercise lowers the intensity of emotional conversations and helps each side see the other's points of view. Use it and I also guarantee it will enhance your credibility as a leadership genius.
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