Failure of Nerve is one of the best books that I’ve read on leadership in a long time. Friedman’s thesis is that many approaches to leadership end in failure because they fail to recognize that leadership is more about a leader’s own emotional processes than techniques to motivate others. In other words, effective leaders are people who are able to avoid being driven by the clamor that comes from the problems or people of the day and instead remain fixed on the management of carefully crafted principles and goals.
Leaders who have weak emotional processes are susceptible to avoid all risk, blame others for their mistakes, or be influenced by emotionally reactive people. Leaders must have the capacity to move themselves and their organization forward; propelled by their own internal guidance system rather than being tossed by the perceptions, complaints, or reactions of others.
Friedman identifies five aspects of leaders:
A capacity to get outside the emotional climate of the day
A willingness to be exposed and vulnerable
Persistence in the face of resistance and downright rejection
Stamina in the face of sabotage alone the way
Being “headstrong” and “ruthless”
This book is worth reading; you will be drawn to come back to it again and again.