Summary of Better Under Pressure

How Great Leaders Bring Out the Best in Themselves and Others

Harvard Business Review Press, more...

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Better Under Pressure book summary
Learn the three traits that help successful CEOs thrive under pressure.


8 Overall

9 Applicability

8 Innovation

8 Style


As Scottish Victorian-era writer Thomas Carlyle once noted, “No pressure, no diamonds.” Perhaps this is why some CEOs can thrive under pressure and achieve even more stellar results than under normal circumstances. How can you emulate these stalwart leaders? Executive recruiter Justin Menkes interviewed 60 former and current CEOs and assessed 200 CEO candidates with cognitive-ability testing, behavioral interviewing and peer performance ratings. He discovered that leaders who prosper under pressure share three characteristics: “realistic optimism,” “subservience to purpose” and the ability to “find order in chaos.” Menkes provides fresh, solid real-life examples to support his views of what it means to be a strong leader. Though he tends to reiterate his main message, getAbstract recommends his clear, straightforward analysis to executives, aspiring CEOs and anyone dealing with high-pressure situations.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How to maximize your potential and draw out the potential of those around you, and
  • What three traits great leaders share.


The Three Traits Leaders Need
In a business climate where just keeping a company alive is a challenge, leaders must thrive under pressure. More than half the firms that led their industries in 1955 remained industry leaders in 1990, but more than two-thirds of 1990’s market leaders no ...
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About the Author

Justin Menkes works for the executive search firm Spencer Stuart. He wrote Executive Intelligence: What All Great Leaders Have and holds a PhD in organizational behavior.

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