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Leading With Emotional Courage: How to Have Hard Conversations, Create Accountability, And Inspire Action On Your Most Important Work

Leading With Emotional Courage: How to Have Hard Conversations, Create Accountability, And Inspire Action On Your Most Important Work

Peter Bregman

ISBN: 978-1-119-50567-9

Jun 2018

272 pages



The Wall Street Journal bestselling author of 18 Minutes unlocks the secrets of highly successful leaders and pinpoints the missing ingredient that makes all the difference

You have the opportunity to lead: to show up with confidence, connected to others, and committed to a purpose in a way that inspires others to follow. Maybe it’s in your workplace, or in your relationships, or simply in your own life.  But great leadership—leadership that aligns teams, inspires action, and achieves results—is hard. And what makes it hard isn’t theoretical, it’s practical. It’s not about knowing what to say or do. It’s about whether you’re willing to experience the discomfort, risk, and uncertainty of saying or doing it. In other words, the most critical challenge of leadership is emotional courage.  If you are willing to feel everything, you can do anything.

Leading with Emotional Courage, based on the author’s popular blogs for Harvard Business Review, provides practical, real-world advice for building your emotional courage muscle. Each short, easy to read chapter details a distinct step in this emotional “workout,” giving you grounded advice for handling the difficult situations without sacrificing professional ground. By building the courage to say the necessary but difficult things, you become a stronger leader and leave the “should’ves” behind.

Theoretically, leadership is straightforward, but how many people actually lead? The gap between theory and practice is huge. Emotional courage is what bridges that gap. It’s what sets great leaders apart from the rest. It gets results. It cuts through the distractions, the noise, and the politics to solve problems and get things done. This book is packed with actionable steps you can take to start building these skills now.

  • Have the courage to speak up when others remain silent
  • Be stable and grounded in the face of uncertainty
  • Respond productively to opposition without getting distracted
  • Weather others’ anger without shutting down or getting defensive

Leading with Emotional Courage coaches you to build your emotional courage, exercise it effectively, and create an environment in which people around you take accountability to get hard things done.

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Why You Should Read this Book

ELEMENT ONE: Build Your Confidence

Part One: Be Who You Are

Chapter 1 Be Yourself

The High Cost of Conformity, and How to Avoid It

Chapter 2 Find Your Ground

Stay steady, balanced, and calm

Chapter 3 Stay Curious About Yourself

How to Ask for Feedback That Will Actually Help You

Chapter 4 Access Self-Compassion

The Problem with High Expectations

Chapter 5 Embrace Your Shadow

How to Avoid Becoming the Person You Hate

Chapter 6 It’s Not All About Achievement

Stop Worrying About How Much You Matter

Part Two: Become Who You Want to Be

Chapter 7 Find Clarity

What’s Your One Big Theme?

Chapter 8 Become More of Who You Are

You’re Already Pretty Amazing

Chapter 9 Stay Focused

You Need to Practice Being Your Future Self

Chapter 10 Be Strategic and Intentional

5 Steps to Investing Your Energy More Wisely

Chapter 11 Don’t Lose Yourself in Pursuit of Becoming Yourself

Take Your Life Back

Chapter 12 How Will You Measure Success?

Why You Should Treat Laughter as a Metric

ELEMENT TWO: Connect with Others

Part One: Be Curious and Trusting

Chapter 13 The Impact of Trust

The Real Secret of Thoroughly Excellent Companies

Chapter 14 Stay Open

How to Really Listen

Chapter 15 Stay Curious About Others

People Can’t Be Summed Up by Personality Tests

Chapter 16 Stay Creative

Are You Trying to Solve the Wrong Problem?

Chapter 17 Be Useful

Hold The Baby

Chapter 18 Make People Feel Good

How Not to Lose a Sale

Part Two: Be Clear and Trustworthy

Chapter 19 Everyone is Contagious

How to Use Your Super Power for Good

Chapter 20 Use Fear as a Guide

How to Talk About What You Most Dread

Chapter 21 Start With the Punchline

How to Start a Hard Conversation

Chapter 22 Skillful Communication in the Heat of the Moment

Outsmart Your Next Angry Outburst

Chapter 23 Own Your Stuff

I Want You to Apologize

Chapter 24 Let Others Know You See Them

20 Seconds to a Better Bonus

ELEMENT THREE: Commit to Purpose

Part One: Energize Your Focus

Chapter 25 Play Hard

Nadal Is Strong Enough to Cry. Are You?

Chapter 26 Know Where You’re Going

Define Your Big Arrow

Chapter 27 Focus Where It Matters

Four Areas To Focus Your Attention

Chapter 28 Use Your Focus as a Filter

Use Your First Day Back from Vacation to Energize Your Focus

Chapter 29 You Can’t Say It Enough

The Mouthwash Principle: For Energized Focus, Rinse And Repeat

Chapter 30 And Sometimes It’s Better to Say Less

If You Want People to Listen, Stop Talking

Part Two: Focus Their Energy

Chapter 31 Gifted, Game, and Generous

Three Qualities Every Leader Needs to Cultivate Within Their Team

Chapter 32 Engage From The Beginning

The Farm-to-Table Method of Focusing the Energy of Your Team

Chapter 33 Helping Others Be Trustworthy

The Secret to Ensuring Follow-Through

Chapter 34 Creating Accountability

Five Building Blocks For a Culture of Accountability

Chapter 35 Bigger Than You

Why Leaders Should Try to Be Overwhelmed

Chapter 36 Improving Performance After A Critical Error (PACE)

How to React When Someone Disappoints

ELEMENT FOUR: Cultivate Emotional Courage

Part One: Feel Courageously

Chapter 37 Know What You Are Feeling

Develop Your Awareness

Chapter 38 Feeling is Physical

Dance With Your Monster

Chapter 39 Practice Feeling

Embracing Temptation

Chapter 40 Feel Uncertainty

The Emotional Adventure of Leadership

Chapter 41 Be Willing to Feel the Hard Stuff

Why Leaders Must Feel Pain

Chapter 42 Feel Everything

Allow for Complexity

Part Two: Act Boldly

Chapter 43 Risk is the Key to Leadership

Unlocking Your Success Equation

Chapter 44 Build Your Risk Muscle

The Small Personal Risks That Change Behavior

Chapter 45 Make a Decision

Act Boldly to Get Moving

Chapter 46 Risk Truth

It’s Your Job to Tell the Bold Truths

Chapter 47 Try Something Different

The Unexpected Power of Inauthenticity

Chapter 48 The Limitless Possibility of Now

A Question That Can Change Your Life


A Note to Readers


About the Author