High-Stakes Leadership
Constance Dierickx
Routledge, September 2017

What makes some leaders so effective when the stakes are high, while others fall short? Why are some able to not only survive but to lead their organizations to new heights even in risky, fast-changing times? The answer is succinct but multi-layered: such leaders display courage, judgment, and fortitude.

High-stakes leadership does not require unnatural powers, nor is it predicated on a dangerous situation. The three signature character traits can be cultivated by anyone at any level in any organization, big or small. Organizational and leadership consultant Constance Dierickx describes high-stakes leadership in a simple, three-part model that illuminates the mindsets, strategies, and tactics leaders must draw upon to make tough decisions, take an unpopular stand, or ignore convention, providing real-world examples across a range of sectors and industries.

Dierickx developed her model of high-stakes leadership to help her clients―executives at organizations ranging from start-ups to nonprofits to large, global companies―better define what they need to bring strategy to life. This, she found, is the great gulf in business, the vast space between idea and results. High-Stakes Leadership helps leaders sharpen their ability to:

  • act decisively, with clarity and focus
  • test ideas using reason, and course correct as needed
  • be resolute and inspire others to continue, even in the face of challenges

Leading requires the courage to make conscious decisions about what to do, the judgment to separate information from short-term trends, and the fortitude to remain true to oneself and one’s mission. When leaders do these things, they also become teachers, leading their teams by example, often without realizing it. The essential aspects of good leadership endure even as the environment and tactics change. Indeed, courage, judgment, and fortitude are not merely tools for survival, they are the means by which we sculpt the future.

About the Author

Constance Dierickx, PhD, specializes in working with organizations in high-stakes situation such as mergers, acquisitions, CEO succession, strategic change, and crisis. Known as “the secret weapon,” she has worked with clients such as AT&T, Belk, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Chubb, Darden Restaurants, IBM, Johnson Controls, NextGear Capital, Schnabel Engineering, and Westinghouse. Dierickx has advised more than five hundred executives on five continents in more than twenty industries.

Earlier in her career, Dierickx was a broker at Merrill Lynch, where she observed firsthand the power of emotion and perceptual distortion on major decisions. Her curiosity about the behavior of clients and colleagues led her to study psychology and decision making. She has been interviewed for The Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, Fortune, and USA Today and has written articles for publications such as American Business Magazine, Boards and Directors, Corporate Board Member, Directorship, and Chief Executive magazine.

Dierickx lives in Atlanta with her husband, Michael, a Certified Financial Planner. An enthusiastic amateur chef and traveler, she also maintains an inexplicable interest in boxing.