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Business & Economics Leadership


How to Cut the Crap and Lead in the Modern Workplace

by (author) Derrick Clough

Red Barn Books
Initial publish date
Nov 2020
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Nov 2020
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  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Nov 2020
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“Hi, I’m Derrick Clough, and I wrote this book about leadership because so many people get it wrong. After reading Leadersh*t, you’ll do less, accomplish more, and your people will thank you for it. Cut down the meetings. Quit measuring everyone to death. Don’t try to implement every great idea you have. Sound crazy? Yes, but it works.”
Derrick Clough grew up on a horse ranch near Vancouver, and never gave up his cowboy boots, even as an executive with one of North America's biggest banks, where he earned a reputation as a maverick and a straight-shooter. He rose quickly through the ranks, recognized as a gifted people leader who could tackle challenges head-on and deliver outstanding results.
In this book, Derrick shares his people-focused leadership approach in the insightful and entertaining way his people have come to know and love. With colourful examples from sports, history and Hollywood, you’ll learn practical ways to win the hearts and minds of your staff, and achieve your business goals.
In short, easy-to-read chapters, Derrick shares what he's learned over 15 years in an executive leadership role, responsible for a multi-billion-dollar book of business and 200 to 300 staff. Topics include:
- Why you don’t need 100% buy-in from your people to get things done
- The right way to deliver tough messages, and exit people if needed
- Addressing mental health issues in the workplace
- How to make the best of a crisis

- Managing Millennials

Never heard of a ‘sh*t sandwich’ or ‘sh*t twinkie?’ You will. This isn’t a scholarly tome by someone who’s never run a business. Leadersh*t is a straight-talking, practical guide that will help you deliver results, and earn the trust and respect of the people you lead.


Tired of micromanaging your people, or being micromanaged yourself? Do you want engaged confident managers who will rise to the challenge and deliver for you? Then this book is for you.

Caution: Contains salty language.

About the author

Contributor Notes

Derrick Clough grew up on a horse ranch near Vancouver, Canada. He earned a Master’s degree while helping to manage the farm, and worked as a journalist for a few years. Then he joined TD Bank as a teller in the Yukon. Within ten years, Derrick was an executive with the Bank, responsible for a multi-billion-dollar book of business and 200 to 300 staff at any given point. After a long and fulfilling career, he retired in 2019. Derrick now runs a hobby farm near Carstairs, Alberta, with his wife, son, dog and two horses. He spends his time gardening, building, reading, cooking, and coaching clients from the comfort of home. Leadership is still his superpower.

Excerpt: Leadersh*t: How to Cut the Crap and Lead in the Modern Workplace (by (author) Derrick Clough)

1 | Leadership: Hope and Belief

What is leadership, anyway? Why do people decide to follow one person over another?

The history books say it has a lot to do with timing. Right place, right time, right person with the right message. Like Sir Winston Churchill (“We’ll fight them on the beaches…”), or Donald Trump (MAGA), perhaps. Or Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama (“Yes we can!”), for that matter.

I think the history books have it right, at least in a round-about way – so long as people have hope, they’ll follow.

Remember the movie Enemy at the Gates? The Russians are losing ground by the hour to the Nazis during the battle for Stalingrad during World War Two. A new leader comes in – Nikita Khrushchev. He calls a meeting of local generals, asks them why their troops are all “shitting their pants,” and what needs to be done.

A scared, dumb general, thinking that a tough, brutal approach is what the boss wants to hear, says that they should shoot all the officers and set an example. Khrushchev grunts, says it’s been tried.

Eventually, another pipes up and says, “Give them hope.”

At that, Khrushchev takes note, listens, wants to know more.

Yes, I’m a bit of a military history buff. I believe there’s a lot we can learn from it.

The main thing I’ve learned, and fundamentally believe, is that if the people we’re leading can see and feel hope in us and through us as leaders, they’ll come along with us.

Think about it. Why do governments get voted out of office? It’s because somebody else comes along with a vision of hope that things will be better if they’re chosen.

Election campaigns since forever have been based on it. Hope gets votes.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not advocating that as leaders we should be trying to assemble just any kind of hope-based message, one based on selfish motives, just so we can win, get what we want as leaders. No, while there are a lot of leaders out there, past and present, who’ve peddled insincere messages of hope and been very successful at it, I’m not suggesting that or anything like it – if I’m peddling anything in these pages, it sure ain’t Machiavelli.

Ultimately, the people we lead will judge our sincerity. In the meantime, we need to nail the hope piece or go home.

Another key ingredient is belief. Belief in the cause, for starters, and then belief in the chances of success.

Going back to military history, if you really think about it, wars are won by the sides that have the most hope, and believe in the cause the strongest.

Strategy, firepower, size of armies, technology, etc., these all play a role. But in a one versus the other kind of situation, hope and belief win every time.

I could cite lots of examples, but one will suffice for now – the Vietnam War. Bottom line, the United States had all the advantages, especially when it came to firepower and technology. But they had their asses handed to them by the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong. The latter believed in the cause, and they thought they could win. US troops weren’t sure why they were there, didn’t want to be, and weren’t sure they could win. So, they lost.

Okay, one more: the American War of Independence. To make a long story short, the Americans believed in their cause and badly wanted the British to go home and leave them alone. British soldiers fought hard but ultimately didn’t see the point – it was just a colony, after all. Not like the homeland was at stake. Anyway, they lost, too.

Yes, it all starts with hope and belief. Instill these in your people and whatever faults you have as a leader won’t matter too much over time.

Sounds simplistic? Maybe it is. But try to find a winning business, team, army or political party anywhere that doesn’t have hope and belief as the anchor.

Of course, other factors play into things. One of the key ones is time – after all, it takes time for one to deliver the message and get it heard, get it to sink in.

I struggled with this when I took over a branch in Greater Vancouver back in the day.

Going in, I felt I had a pretty good message. A winning track record. Friendly personality, nice smile and all. So why wasn’t my team following me and buying in? The one prior did easily enough.

Turns out they needed time, wanted to see some ‘small wins’ materialize before they’d really go for the gusto for me and try to win at the big stuff. They needed to visualize winning first, you could say.

Luckily, we were able to engineer a couple of small sales campaign wins in relatively short order. These were both a bit fluky, I have to admit, in retrospect. But they did the trick. We ended up having a record year in terms of both customer satisfaction and sales.

I’ll come back to the topic of ‘small wins’ later on. For now, I’ll leave you with the hope and belief themes to mull over a bit. And, for those of you in a leadership position, a question: How strong a sense of hope and belief do your folks have with you at the helm?

Editorial Reviews

“Refreshing straight talk is what Derrick delivers in this book! He offers perspectives ... exemplifying the ‘been there, lived that’ experience.” – Bruce Kirke, Manager, Spartan Controls??

“This book is brilliant. Exactly what I needed when I was trying to be a leader. As a CEO for more than 39 years, it offers insight into people management that took me 15 years in TEC to come close. Thank you, Derrick, for putting it so bluntly.” – Rob Sutton, Former CEO, RAS Industries

??"Derrick writes like he lives, with honesty, integrity and wit. This book is a testament to Derrick’s abilities to teach leaders to be strong and confident while fostering a positive and productive environment." – Debbie Brandt, Area Manager, TD Bank??

"You will be enlightened by the simple wisdoms, learn from the inside stories, and thoroughly enjoy some true Derrickisms, like my personal favourite, 'You can't make chicken salad out of chicken sh*t.'" – David Fotia, Branch Manager, TD Bank