Complete Story


Small Actions Make Great Leaders

Every action starts as an inner action

Julie, an organic chemist, was doing drug research at a lab. Her boss, Gordon, was a well-regarded scientist but also very temperamental. One day she walked into Gordon’s office to ask for his feedback on the draft of a research paper they were co-authoring. The paper represented months of arduous research. Gordon told her that it was the “worst piece of rubbish” he’d ever seen.

Julie replied, “Gordon, I’m not a bit surprised that you thought the paper was rubbish. To be honest, I had the exact same feeling when I was writing it. I felt like I was rambling on and on. I’m always amazed when I read your papers because they’re so incredibly clear and lucid. That’s actually one of the reasons I wanted to work with you and why I was so excited when you offered me a position last fall. The results of our research could be extremely important, and I know that if the paper were well-written, it might make a tremendous impact. The paper may be beyond repair, but I’m wondering if you might have any suggestions about how I could make it better. I want to learn as much from you as I possibly can.”

Gordon’s mood seemed to instantly improve. He looked the paper over, pointing out problems to be addressed and offering ideas. Julie went on to publish the paper in a top journal and received a major award for it. (This is a retelling of a true story from the writings of the preeminent psychotherapist Dr. David Burns.)

Please select this link to read the complete article from The Harvard Business Review.

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