In writing Leaders’ Playbook and then Leading with Emotional Intelligence, I interviewed Henrik Fisker, then CEO of the luxury car company Fisker Coachbuild, LLC. His story and his practices can give us all some insight into the practices of a Star Performer.

This is the second in the sequence of learning some of the 10 Star Secrets in Confidence of Henrik Fisker. Here we will look at secrets 2-5.

#2. Third Opinions

Fisker believes in getting different opinions in order to have more information on certain issues. He knows what he thinks, but listens to other people’s viewpoints for opinions and perspectives on the issue at hand. Fisker uses his networking skills to acquire multiple perspectives from many different sources.

#3. Evaluating Capacities

Fisker evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of his team during his private time and gets a good feeling for what they can and cannot do.  This allows him to guage their window of capacity, build trust, and helps him determine what challenges and risks he wants to present and to whom. When his team comes to him for a decision, Fisker has already evaluated what sorts of capabilities they possess and ultimately empowers them as he assigns his tasks.

#4. Shooting from the Hip

Fisker prefers quick, firm, and empowering decisions. He also understands that most people don’t like being managed and wants them to feel they are following their own motivation. The perception is that he makes these decisions because of blind trust. The person feels the motivation to work hard in order to demonstrate that he or she deserves that trust. Fisker captures the drama of the moment by seizing the decision-making power rather than waiting and thinking it over, which becomes anticlimactic and less empowering.

He likes to say, “Yes, go make it happen,” knowing full well the positive effect this kind of response delivers. While his decisions may appear as “shooting from the hip,” this is actually not the case at all. It is a much more calculated system, because of the time Fisker dedicates to Secrets #1, #2, and #3. His quick decisions are well-timed and create an optimum of emotional energy for his team.

#5. That Gut Feeling

Fisker takes pride in “going with his gut.” For a designer, the look and feel of a car are more emotional than logical and, many times, beyond what we can put into words. Throughout his career he has depended on developing this visceral skill. Like many executives, Fisker has refined this ability, which allows him to make quick decisions when he needs to.

Cars make us feel a certain way, and this feeling comes from the amygdala, that small walnut-shaped area in the center of the brain. “Every experience that we have is an emotional reaction, no matter how subtle, which seems to be encoded in the amygdala” (Goleman, 1998, p.51). There are nerve pathways that run from the amygdala to the internal organs, and thus the “gut feeling” comes from the brain.

Actions:

  1. Are you listening more than talking and taking in others opinions?
  2. Do you know the strengths and weaknesses of each of your team members? If not, having this conversation with them will help identify how to help them build and broaden their strengths.
  3. When is the last time you told one of your people “go make it happen” like Henrik?
  4. Are you able to get messages from your gut and trust them? What do you have to do to honor these messages more?