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Book Summary: “Breaking Through: Communicating to Open Minds, Move Hearts, and Change the World” by Sally Susman – A HBR Press Book Essentials

Breaking through a doitinvest essentials business bookIn the wake of a global pandemic, economic uncertainty, and political tensions, effective communication has become more critical than ever for leaders navigating the challenges of today’s world. Sally Susman, Pfizer’s trailblazing communications leader, shares her invaluable insights and experiences in her groundbreaking book, “Breaking Through: Communicating to Open Minds, Move Hearts, and Change the World.” Let’s explore how Susman’s wisdom can guide leaders through the noise and help them make a positive impact on their teams, organizations, and the world.

Chapter 1: The Communication Imperative in a Turbulent World

Susman begins by emphasizing that communication is no longer just a soft skill; it’s a rock-hard competency essential for leaders facing unprecedented challenges. With the backdrop of Pfizer’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Susman underscores the importance of effective communication in times of crisis and uncertainty.

Chapter 2: Clarifying Intentions and Crafting Messages

One of the first steps to impactful communication, according to Susman, is clarifying intentions. Leaders must clearly define what they want to convey. Whether addressing a global crisis or a company-wide initiative, understanding the core message is crucial. Susman’s insights guide leaders in channeling their intentions effectively and ensuring their messages resonate with authenticity and purpose.

Chapter 3: The Courage to Be Candid

Susman advocates for leaders to muster the courage to be candid. In a world inundated with information, authenticity is a rare commodity. By embracing candor, leaders can build trust and credibility. The chapter explores how honesty and transparency contribute to effective communication and how leaders can navigate the fine line between openness and discretion.

Chapter 4: Disarming with Humility and Delighting with Humor

To connect with people, Susman suggests leaders need to disarm with humility and delight with humor. By acknowledging vulnerabilities and sharing personal stories, leaders can break down barriers and foster genuine connections. Susman’s experiences, both as a corporate leader and as a gay, married woman, provide valuable insights into embracing authenticity in both personal and professional realms.

Connecting with people requires a delicate blend of various qualities, according to Susman. By disarming with humility and delighting with humor, leaders can break down barriers and foster genuine connections. Drawing on personal experiences, Susman shares insights on how leaders can infuse authenticity into their communication styles, creating a more relatable and engaging leadership approach.

Chapter 5: Embracing Authenticity and Diversity

As a trailblazer in her own right, Susman candidly discusses the challenges and opportunities of embracing one’s authentic self. The chapter explores how diversity, whether in gender, background, or identity, contributes to effective communication and fosters a culture of inclusion. Susman’s personal anecdotes serve as a source of inspiration for leaders navigating their own authenticity journeys.

Being herself a gay, married woman, Susman candidly discusses the challenges and opportunities of embracing authenticity and diversity in the workplace. This chapter explores how diverse perspectives contribute to effective communication, fostering a culture of inclusion. Leaders are encouraged to recognize the strength in embracing their authentic selves and championing diversity within their organizations.

Conclusion: “Breaking Through” – Essential Reading for Leaders

“Breaking Through” is a must-read for leaders facing the daunting task of communicating in today’s noisy, turbulent world. Sally Susman’s stories, warmth, and humanity, combined with her insight and passion, provide a roadmap for leaders to communicate with impact, build trust, and drive positive change. Whether addressing a crisis or leading day-to-day operations, Susman’s principles offer timeless guidance for leaders seeking to break through the noise and connect with open minds, move hearts, and change the world.

 

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