“He interviewed Gorbachev,” his wife leaned over to whisper to me. I paused to reflect on that piece of information for a minute.
I was at the gala dinner at the Global Peter Drucker Forum in Vienna, having randomly chosen a table where a couple were already seated when I arrived. They introduced themselves as Alejandra & Eduardo. No sooner had we started the small talk which is usual for such events did Eduardo start asking me question after question about who I was, really.
With the tiny piece of information Alejandra shared with me, though, the tables were turned. Now I was really curious. It turned out I was sitting next to none other than Eduardo Braun, who, during his tenure as director of HSM, traveled the world interviewing leaders the likes of Jack Welch, Tony Blair, Carly Fiorina, Alan Greenspan, Pope Francis, and countless others. Needless to say, he and his wife, Alejandra, herself a brilliant entrepreneur, were wonderful company that evening. I laughed and almost cried at the stories they recounted.
Eduardo’s interviews drove him to write People First Leadership: How the Best Leaders use Culture and Emotions to drive Unprecedented Results. In it he outlines his key takeaways from those incredible discussions, some public, some held privately. He skillfully weaves together stats and stories to drive home the message that anyone who wants to up the ante on performance needs to do it with and through people, not at their expense. He outlines an idea that the CEO title should stand for Chief Emotions Officer: because the best leaders create and harness positive states of mind, which drive people to achieve amazing visions.
The book also exposes some of the failures these leaders themselves identified. Each leader identifies failure to communication, of connection, of caring as being at the root of the more visibly perceived failure.
Eduardo goes on to define five critical roles of the CEO, making the book an effective blueprint. Anyone in a leadership role is in fact a Chief Emotions Officer, whether they know it or not. I think of the great leaders I have known in my own life. The ones who have gotten the best out of any team practiced the People First Leadership principles.