Flying Without a Net

Flying Without a Net

How to address your fears so that they do not obstruct your leadership development?

Author(s): Thomas J. DeLong

Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press

Date of publication: 2011

Manageris opinion

Do you demand a lot of yourself? If you do, then this book is for you. The author, who teaches at Harvard Business School, warns readers that the people most driven to succeed often behave, paradoxically, in ways detrimental to their success!
The principal danger is the fear of failure. Indeed, the self-esteem of ambitious people often depends on their success and their ability to meet the objectives they set for themselves. Hence, they subconsciously refuse to take the risk of failing, and thus deprive themselves of many opportunities to learn and grow.
The first part of the book is devoted to the forms of fear frequently found in such individuals, e.g., loss of meaning, feelings of isolation, an exaggerated need for recognition. The author provides a detailed description of the four main resulting pitfalls, i.e., hyperactivity, constant one-upmanship, finger-pointing, and anxiety. As a result, competent people who deeply want to succeed end up shooting themselves in the foot and cannot adapt to change and improve themselves.

Far from merely describing these traps, the author suggests several dimensions for leaders to work on to make progress despite their weaknesses. This enlightening book addresses an audience broader than ambitious professionals to include anyone interested in leadership development as a whole.