In writing Leaders’ Playbook and then Leading with Emotional Intelligence, I interviewed key leaders to find how they exemplified specific EI competencies. One person I coached was Henrik Fisker who exemplified the Confidence competency. His story and his practices can give us all some insight into the practices of a Star Performer.
Henrik Fisker was the CEO of the luxury car company Fisker Coachbuild, LLC, after a successful career designing cars for major car manufacturers like BMW and Aston Martin. At Aston Martin he served as a member of the Board of Directors and Design Director. There he designed the Aston Martin V8 Vantage and was responsible for the production launch design of the DB9, variants of which were James Bond’s preferred vehicles.
He chose to start his own firm, with a focus on designing and producing exclusive, high-end sports cars, like the electric car Karma, which sold 2,000 cars. The Karma is the first American car to have won the coveted Top Gear Luxury Car of the Year award and many customers report that they achieve better than 100 MPG for their daily driving. It sells for $105,000 to $115,000.
Fisker resigned as the company’s chairman in March, 2013, as they had a large loan from the Department of Energy to pay back. Fisker and a Hong Kong-based investor group are now struggling to keep the firm afloat by paying back some of the automaker’s Department of Energy (DoE) loan, saving the company from having to resort to bankruptcy.
Whether he succeeds or not with restructuring his company, his story is one of an extremely confident man that I will share here and we can all learn from.
Early learning Experiences – Excerpt from Leading with Emotional Intelligence.
Fisker states, “I have always been good at leading people.” He recalls a learning experience when he was 13 and engaged in an orienteering course to find a treasure: A group of boys were walking in the forest, and after looking at the map, Fisker decided they needed to go to the right. The assigned leader and all the other boys said, no, they had to go left. Eighteen boys went to the left, whereas Fisker and one other boy went to the right and ended up finding the treasure. However, because they had split up, his group didn’t win and Fisker got in trouble for leaving his team. One insight Fisker learned from this experience was to follow his convictions in spite of opposition from others. Another powerful result was learning that leaders can be decisive, but they need followers in order to be truly successful.
In his first four months as a designer at BMW, Fisker was working on a car interior with a senior designer who asked him, “Do you want to take over this project?” Fisker had a feeling he could to it and said, “Yes,” confidently, even though he didn’t have a lot of experience. He saw that each time he took a risk it added to his confidence.
A role model for Fisker early in his career was Dr. Reitzle, the Development Chief of BMW, who made big decisions for the direction of the company in a very firm manner. “I saw a leader make a firm decision and the domino effect was positive. There was a wave of optimism transmitted down throughout the company.” He saw that being decisive was a trait that was admired and was something he emulated.
The first of his 10 Secrets and Practices to be a Star Performer in Confidence is below, others will be in following Coach’s Corners.
1. Private Time
Fisker takes an hour and a half at lunchtime to work out and think through problems. He states that this dedicated period is “a hundred times more valuable than staying at work” where interruptions are the norm. He plays things over and over in his mind and explores many different scenarios and solutions. This is when Fisker gets a “feeling” for what he wants to do.
- Do you take private time?
- Is it enough time for you to recharge and plan?
- What do you need to do to maximize this time for you?
- Remember, one minute of preparation can save you five minutes of execution.