Better Under Pressure: How Great Leaders Bring Out the Best in Themselves and Others

Better Under Pressure: How Great Leaders Bring Out the Best in Themselves and Others

by Justin Menkes


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Most business leaders can take only so much pressure before their performance slides. Yet some CEOs deliver their greatest successes when times get toughest—when customers’ preferences are shifting away from a company’s products, when new regulations are shrinking profit margins, when political unrest is destroying supply lines.

In Better Under Pressure, Justin Menkes reveals the common traits that make these leaders successful. Drawing on in-depth interviews with sixty CEOs from an array of industries and performance data from two hundred other leaders, Menkes shows that great executives strive relentlessly to maximize their own potential—as well as stoke their people’s innate thirst for their own triumphs. To do so, they draw on a set of three essential and rare attributes:

• Realistic optimism: They recognize the risks threatening their organization’s survival—and their own failings—while remaining confident in their ability to have an impact.
• Subservience to purpose: They dedicate themselves to pursuing a noble cause and win their team’s commitment to that cause.
• Finding order in chaos: They find clarity amid the many variables affecting their business by culling data and forming the conclusions that matter most to the company.

The good news: these three capabilities can be learned. Drawing on a broad range of examples from real companies—including Avon, Yum Brands, Southwest, Procter & Gamble, and Ryerson Steel, to name just a few—Menkes demonstrates how each psychological attribute manifests itself in real life and enables top performance under extreme duress. He also shows you how to develop and deploy those attributes—so you can transform yourself into a leader who only shines brighter as the pressure intensifies.

Deeply personal, brimming with compelling stories from real-life CEOs, and packed with powerful insights, tools, and practices, this book is a potent resource for aspiring, emerging, and seasoned business leaders alike.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781422138700
Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press
Publication date: 05/03/2011
Pages: 208
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.30(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Justin Menkes is an acclaimed author and leading expert in executive assessment. A consultant for the elite executive search firm Spencer Stuart, he advises the boards of the world’s leading companies on their choice of CEO. He authored the Wall Street Journal bestseller Executive Intelligence: What All Great Leaders Have and has written articles for Chief Executive and Harvard Business Review.

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Better Under Pressure: How Great Leaders Bring Out the Best in Themselves and Others 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
RolfDobelli More than 1 year ago
As Scottish Victorian-era writer Thomas Carlyle once noted, “No pressure, no diamonds.” Perhaps this is why some CEOs can thrive under pressure and achieve even more stellar results than under normal circumstances. How can you emulate these stalwart leaders? Executive recruiter Justin Menkes interviewed 60 former and current CEOs and assessed 200 CEO candidates with cognitive-ability testing, behavioral interviewing and peer performance ratings. He discovered that leaders who prosper under pressure share three characteristics: “realistic optimism,” “subservience to purpose” and the ability to “find order in chaos.” Menkes provides fresh, solid real-life examples to support his views of what it means to be a strong leader. Though he tends to reiterate his main message, getAbstract recommends his clear, straightforward analysis to executives, aspiring CEOs and anyone dealing with high-pressure situations.