Leadership and The Art of the Struggle
is a terrific book by Steven Snyder, a former CEO and senior executive at Microsoft.  In addition to taking a deep dive on how we navigate struggle, Snyder shares his own struggle story — without which he would not have joined Microsoft in its infancy.  In his words, “traditional leadership narratives contemplate what and how, this struggle-centric narrative probes deeper, uncovering the why.” Because I always want to know the why behind a person’s  dream, his approach resonated; insights were plentiful.  An especial shout-out goes to Snyder for including in his research the stories of women and men.

Below is a summary of the book in soundbites:

Leadership is a struggle by flawed human beings to make some important values real in the world as it is. — @steven_j_snyder

Fiction opens a new portal on leadership, deepening the understanding of leadership as a human endeavor. – @steven_j_snyder

When you compare your abilities to others or simply question your abilities, you are experiencing a fixed mindset. – @steven_j_snyder

Leadership is about being clear about one’s own place in the order of things and honoring everybody else’s place. – Joe Dowling v @steven_j_snyder

When you acknowledge your vulnerabilities, you retain the power. — @bill_george v @steven_j_snyder

Mindfulness is like installing a new, enhanced operating system for the brain:  OS Brain 2.0. — @steven_j_snyder

As activity decreases, order increases. As the mind settles down, it becomes more orderly, more able to comprehend and to handle difficult challenges. — @Kevin_Cashman v @steven_J_snyder

Connection is a two-way street. – @steven_j_snyder

You cannot be a leader without being a student of the human condition. – Joe Dowling v @steven_j_snyder

We have five types of blindspots:  experience, personality, values, strategic and conflict. — Steven Snyder

A personality blind spot is the ‘ghost behind the strength’.  — Marc Belton

A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single mind contemplates it, bearing with him the image of a cathedral. — Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Good leaders learn to intuit the link between their current circumstances and future potentialities. – @steven_j_snyder

leadership

When in the midst of a struggle, emotions can overwhelm rationality.  It’s a leader’s job to make some semblance of sense out of chaos.  The first step is to understand what’s causing the underlying tensions.  With a clear grasp of the four major tension points (tradition, aspiration, relationship and identity), a leader can determine the best way to navigate the struggle.

Past: Tensions of tradition arise when an organization confronts its past patterns, practices, beliefs.
Future:
Tensions of aspiration arise when a leader struggles to realize a new vision for the future.
Outward:  Tensions of relationships emerge to a certain extent from a climate of mistrust.
Inward:  Tensions of identity stem from an effort to express authentic and credible leadership capabilities.

Two strategies for navigating the tension map are:
Focus on the situation, and then think of a creative way to re-imagine the situation in a way that enables you to get through it.  Focus on you and your contributions to the tensions and how you might change.

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Resolving tensions of identity are central to navigating through struggle. — @steven_j_snyder

What is your struggle story? — @steven_j_snyder