• Shagun Agarwal

12 Powerful Lessons I learnt from the book ‘Open, Honest and Direct’ written by Aaron Levy, CEO, Ra


Just last week, I read the book ‘Open, Honest and Direct’ written by Aaron Levy the Founder & CEO of Raise The Bar, a leadership training company based out of Chicago.



In this book, I liked how Aaron explained each leadership skill through the use of examples and stories popping out from his own life which makes this book very practical and approachable. It has something for everyone, be it an individual contributor, an entrepreneur or a team leader.



Below are my top 12 takeaways from the book:



1.Nothing happens until you see action. If you want to alter the behavior of your team members, you would want them to take action; it requires more than telling them what to do and how to do it. It's not that people don’t know what to do and how to do it. The real problem lies with acting.


2. With the unemployment levels going down, the war for talent is on the rise. It’s getting harder for companies to hire and retain top talent. When attracting top talent, companies look at the short-term approach, i.e. throwing money in the market. When people leave, companies continue to hire more people, instead of working on finding ways to retain people. For this purpose, one of the suggestions from the author is to set up a stay interview with each employee. This is the opposite of an exit interview and gives incredible clarity on what will make the employee stay with the company


3. It is rightly said that people don’t leave jobs, they leave managers. People leave when they see their bosses not caring about their growth.


4. When in an organization, a management role pops up, companies look at the top performers. They are taken out of their contributor roles and put them as team leaders. The mistake that companies make is the assumption that if an employee is a top performer, he/she will also be good at leading people. Leading and performing both require skills that are vastly different from each other. Companies look at their key performance indicators, not their people management, listening and delivering feedback skills. This sets them up for failure both ways, they remove the individual contributor from their high-performance role and also hire the wrong person for a management role. Instead of one thing that they were doing well, they are now poorly doing many things.


5. When you would like to see if a person would be better as an individual contributor or as a team leader, ask them what excites them about leading a team. When replying if they talk about the overall team aspect, they are a better fit to lead.


6. A great leader understands that the path to success cannot be walked alone. Without the help and contribution of others, he/she cannot attain their goals.


7. Reflection, which is often overlooked, must be an important part of a leader’s growth trajectory. When something backfires or doesn’t work, reflection allows for learning, to look back to see what worked and what didn’t. This art of reflection creates neural pathways and moves him/her towards this incredible habit of reflection.


8. Listening can transform your impact as a leader. We think over 1k-3k words per minute, but we listen to 125-250. This clearly shows that listening is hard. We spend years of our education in practicing reading and writing but none of those years goes into developing our listening skills. This results in most of us being poor at this very important leadership skill. Listening to others with intention shows them that you truly care about them.


9. Most times it is our inner dialogue that comes in between our ability to truly listen to others. Accepting and noticing that inner voice is the first step towards becoming a better listener.


10. An important leadership trait is a habit of asking powerful questions. If someone wants to move fast, make quick decisions and mistakes, slow down and ask questions. If you are listening attentively, you don’t need to worry about asking powerful questions, Trust your instincts and ask. It’s the key to becoming a strategic leader. When asking questions, embrace a beginner’s mind and explore the unknown.


11. When offering feedback, whether positive or negative, be specific and give as many details as you possibly can. This will make the feedback more impactful. Lack of impact is one of the key reasons people leave their companies. One another similar aspect is to give feedback, as close to the occurrence of the event. The more you don’t share feedback, the more you prevent them from growing.


12. Successful leaders check-in not only with their team but also with themselves. This check-in is important to reflect on the past and to look forward to the next.



#leadershipskills #openhonestdirect #raisethebar #reading



Here is the link if you'd like to purchase the book: https://www.amazon.com/Open-Honest-Direct-Unlocking-Potential/dp/163299237X/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=open+honest+and+direct&link_code=qs&qid=1575579831&sourceid=avast-search&sr=8-2

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© 2019 by Shagun Agarwal

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