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Ferrari Leaders: It’s Not What You Think

I am guessing most managers and leaders want to be Ferraris, the fancy car that moves fast, is flashy and cool!!

We all know that leader who makes it all look easy. However, we may not have a clue what’s really under the hood.

One thing I, Susan, do know, having coached and worked with a number of these flashy, Ferrari-looking leaders – it’s not what you might be thinking. They’re human too and have some kinks in their engines.

You may be thinking about how to take that next step in your leadership development, or how to develop your team. So of course, you’ll go looking for flashy, new, leading edge programs, thinking that will help you and your people perform better.

The problem is even with all the new technology, science, and research – what it takes to be a better leader, even a great leader – boils down to some simple, practical wisdom:

  • Don’t Just React, Respond

  • Get Feedback

  • Own Your Mistakes

It’s truly not rocket science or even new science!

Science is now catching up and providing some solid research on how the brain works and how our nervous system is wired. Yes, go read up on this. However, when it comes to how that science applies to what you need to do as a leader in conflict, under stress, or when you are feeling unsure of which direction to go, we suggest going old school.

Don’t Just React, Respond

Yes, it boils down to settling yourself down in the midst of stress, which is an age old human process. Here are some simple steps we suggest you try and integrate on a daily basis:

  • Breathe: When you’re under stress you may be breathing more rapidly, shallow, and up in your chest. Some of you may even be holding your breath. So, we suggest you breathe slower, deeper, and longer. Put your hand on your low belly and take ten long, slow, deep breaths.

  • Pause: Breathing will help you do this. When you pause, you stop your forward action and take stock of what’s happening within you and around you. You have an opportunity to become aware of how you’re reacting.

  • Check Out Your Story: This is a big topic in our book, The Beauty of Conflict. Recognize that you are not the smartest or the right -est! Be open to hearing from those around you.

  • Listen: Meaning don’t interrupt when someone is responding. Even before you answer back, reflect back what you’re hearing. (This is another topic we cover in detail in The Beauty of Conflict.

Doing the above will allow you to settle your system and make a conscious choice about how you want to respond in the situation.

So Yes – old school.

Get Feedback

As a leader the higher you go in the organization the less real, honest feedback you are going to get. You need to prime the pump, meaning solicit it and make sure people know they can even tell you the hard stuff.

“Hey, I know I don’t always listen well, and can jump in an interrupt folks when they’re talking. I don’t know if I’ll ever get good at this. I’d like your help. Can you let me know when I’m doing this?”

Then, when some brave soul speaks up, practice the tools we gave you above and don’t react. Instead, acknowledge and THANK them for giving you the feedback.

So, take time to ask for and receive feedback, not just from the people you like and who like you. Also ask that client or colleague who may not like you so much – or you think is just not worth your time! You may be surprised what you hear. Remember, it’s information that will help you get better even if it stings.

Own Your Mistakes

The last thing most leaders want to do is admit their mistakes. Most want to pretend they’re invincible. While that may be your desire, it doesn’t build trust, human loyalty or great relationships. So, cultivate the ability to own your mistakes. It creates relationships that can are resilient. I know it’s hard but stay open-hearted and honest.


When it comes to building your own and your team’s emotional intelligence don’t get trapped by thinking it’s about science.

Sure, there are new ways to get that education and learning. There are great books (even ours!), online programs, interactive technology – lots of fancy and flash. But don’t get caught up in all the flare. Underneath the hood, back in the office, it’s going to be about having the courage, discipline, and heart to keep doing these simple things.

Take care,


P.S. Want your leaders to develop more Emotional Intelligence? We’d be happy to create and deliver a highly impactful leadership development program.

CrisMarie Campbell and Susan Clarke

Coaches, Business Consultants, Speakers and Authors of The Beauty of Conflict

CrisMarie and Susan work leaders and teams, couples in business, and professional women.

They help turnaround dysfunctional teams into high performing, cohesive teams who trust each other, deal with differences directly, and have clarity and alignment on their business strategy so they create great results.

Check out their website: www.thriveinc.com. Connect with CrisMarie and Susan on LinkedIn. Watch their TEDx Talk: Conflict – Use It, Don’t Defuse It! Find your copy of The Beauty of Conflict: Harnessing Your Team's Competitive Advantage here.

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