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Synopsis of The Leadership Moment: Nine True Stories of Triumph and Disaster and Their Lessons for Us All

By Michael Useem and Warren Bennis

Roy Vagelos Attacks River Blindness

Overall, this was a good story about not just leadership, but responsibility to society, the valuable use of power and the resources or profit that are available to leaders.

Page 29: "We try never to forget that medicine is for the people. It is not for the profits." – This quote from Merck echoes NM – create financial security for our customers and never desire to be the biggest or first to market.

Page 30: "So you see, doing the right thing can bring unexpected rewards later on." – I call this "making a deposit". I do this with my business partners in order to build goodwill, especially for the times when I need to make a withdrawal.

Pages 33-34: Vagelos did not inform the governing board before the public announcement (regarding giving the drug away forever). When questioned, he even asked if anyone would have voted otherwise and none said yes. He did not seek consensus, which still seems to be counter to what our culture at NM is.

Page 35: "Perhaps because we did not have a leader who could reveal the greater purpose of the trip to us." – this echoes something that I heard Tim Schaefer say – "A leader’s job is to connect people to a purpose." I wonder if got it from this book?

Page 37: Deeply ingrained cultures are the crux (to long-standing records of exceptional employee commitment). The companies’ values, the McKinsey research found, "energize people to go the extra mile" for the firm, a "competitive advantage" for driving performance "that is hard to replicate." – Similar to the above from page 35, reflective of having "rallying cries", mottos, etc. Think of the NOB with the quote in granite.

Overall, a great chapter that reminds me of NM and my personal examples such as my orientation session when I learned that we paid out 9/11 benefits right away or how we looked up the zip does during the major hurricanes so that we could get ready to do the same.

Wagner Dodge Retreats in Mann Gulch

Page 55: "A solution lay not necessarily in avoiding such actions, for in this instance it is hard to imagine not ordering the equipment disposal, but in a persuasive communication of why he acted thus." – This reminds me of the need to always give the "why". It is sort of like the parent who says "because I said so". Always give the "why", which also gives back to the leader’s role of connecting people to a purpose as well.

Page 59: "The premise is simple: Everybody is crazy from time to time, but it is rare that two people are at the same moment." – This reminds me of Leadership Without Authority and how to effectively build consensus, or better yet, effectively use peer pressure.

Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain Defends Little Round Top

Page 134: His speech is inspiring. Once again, we someone tying the "why" or the purpose to their work. I see a bit of Dale Carnegie’s "How to Win Friends and Influence People" in this, especially the "give a dog a name" chapter because what Chamberlain is doing is letting these deserters save face by saying that they can be something.

Nancy Barry Builds Women’s World Banking

Page 214: When you "connect with a purpose greater than ourselves, you are fearless, you think big, and you think beyond yourself".

Conclusion section

Page 271: Spreading leadership is not just a matter of working downward. Fostering more leadership among peers and the powers that be is a prerequisite for effectively exercising one’s own. Put differently, giving away power makes one more powerful, while creating more leaders all around oneself can make one all the more a leader.