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L E A D E R S H I P
THE MAGAZINE OF LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT, MANAGERIAL EFFECTIVENESS, AND ORGANIZATIONAL PRODUCTIVITY
“Leadership Excellence is an exceptional
way to learn and then apply the best and
latest ideas in the field of leadership.”
—WARREN BENNIS, AUTHOR AND
USC PROFESSOR OF MANAGEMENT
Transcend the PossibleTranscend the Possible
in Hard Times
in Hard Times
and Leadership Consultant
L E A D E R S H I P
THE MAGAZINE OF LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT, MANAGERIAL EFFECTIVENESS, AND ORGANIZATIONAL PRODUCTIVITY
Leaders Develop Leaders
Use this as the mantra
of your LD program. . . . . 2
I learned many lessons
in wartime trenches. . . . . . 3
Keep Hope Alive
It’s all you have on
any survival trek. . . . . . . .5
Have a Little Faith
An attitude of gratitude
will keep you alive. . . . . . 6
Leading in Hard Times
Exercise courage and
apply 10 tactics. . . . . . . . . .7
Start creating your
culture of excellence. . . . . 8
See more clearly, think
more creatively. . . . . . . . . .9
Share leadership with
diverse talent. . . . . . . . . . .9
Analyze your style
to improve results. . . . . . . .10
Be cognizant of global
shifts and local trends. . .11
ROBERT E. KNOWLING, JR.
the direction of your
organization by leading
people with passion. . . . . .12
Look of Leadership
You may never have a
chance to show substance
if you lack style. . . . . . . . .13
Learn how to conduct
with confidence your
team’s performance. . . . 14
The first act of leadership
is to have a vision of a
better, brighter future . . .15
They make the difference
in their worlds. . . . . . . . .16
RICHARD E. BOYATZIS
How People Change
Coach people in a way
that inspires growth. . . . 17
Train leaders to negotiate
better outcomes. . . . . . . .18
BP’s Oil Spill
Every leader can learn
some lessons from this. . .19
Be open and transparent in
service and innovation . .20
VOL. 27 NO. 10 OCTOBER 2010
Man in the Moon
Even at night, the leader or
maestro of virtue is vigilant,
keeping a watchful eye on all
who count on him for vision
and navigation and who have
a stake in the success of the
venue or venture.
And we were often filthy—showers
were as rare as hot meals. Ordered to
assume command of a platoon on the
front lines, I arrived around midnight.
The men were sleeping in the ruins of
a house. The platoon’s runner took me
into what remained of the kitchen and
showed me a bench where I could
sleep. I then made my first important
leadership decision—I chose to put my
sleeping bag on the floor with my men.
Without knowing why, I made a quiet,
unobtrusive entrance—not one of those
flashy, arrogant entrances that so many
officers made and enlisted men despised
(some officers rub their superior rank
in the faces of their men). I quickly
learned that the men needed me as much
as I needed them. The Battle of the Bulge
had taken a dreadful toll on my pla-
toon. We were down to 24 men (from
48) with only two officers (down from
six) in the company of four platoons.
Listen to your men. At 19, I was lucky
to have joined a company of seasoned
soldiers. Although no one said it, the
men had decided to teach me how to
be a leader. They started at once. Early
that morning, the first sergeant told
me, “We’d like you to follow the cap-
tain for a couple of days, just to see
what he’s doing.” They’d decided I
was too green to make it on my own, a
condition that endangered their lives.
Learn from a mentor. That was my
introduction to the commanding offi-
cer, Captain Bessinger, my first mentor
and one of the finest leaders I’ve ever
known. One thing he did as a leader
was to listen to his men—a good way
to get valuable information but also
evidence of his respect for them—even
though he was quite deaf as a result of
too much exposure to too many deci-
bels in too many battles. And he did
all he could to keep them safe from the
I’VE SPENT MUCH OF MY
academic life in offices
and classrooms; yet I
learned many leadership tenets in WWII
trenches. Here are lessons for leaders:
Listen to the music. Like so many
others, my father lost his last real job
in 1932. From then on, he supported
my mother, older twin brothers, and
me loading illegal booze for the New
Jersey mob. He worked tirelessly, but
he had no talent for business. Hoping
a change in geography would change
his luck, he moved us from New Jersey
to Southern California, where a friend
owned a drugstore in Beverly Hills.
In Los Angeles, my father opened a
malt shop. It wasn’t much of a finan-
cial success, but it bettered my life. As
a confused, nebbishy teenager, recent-
ly graduated from high school, I was
unmoored, unsure of who I was, let
alone who I wanted to be. I didn’t
have interests so much as a handful of
obsessions. The healthiest, by far, was
my quest to build a collection of great
pop music. Music was my therapy, as
it is for many young people who
yearn for something they can’t yet
articulate—something grander than
their lonely, mundane lives.
Learn to lead: ready or not. In June
1943, as my 18th
birthday neared, I de-
cided to enlist in the Army Specialized
Training Program. Just 18 months later,
(Dec. 1944) I was the rawest second
lieutenant in the U.S. Army, a 19-year-
old shavetail trying to keep my platoon
(and myself ) alive as we pursued the
retreating enemy into southern Ger-
many. I was a replacement officer in
Infantry Division, arriving
there as American forces were in the
final throes of the Battle of the Bulge.
Back home in Southern California, I
might have felt half-formed and inse-
cure. But in Germany, I was about to
become a leader of men, ready or not.
In your entry as a leader, be low-key.
Our orders were to capture or kill Ger-
man soldiers and clear the towns they
had occupied and abandoned. When
on the march (most of the time), we
were cold, wet, exhausted, and often
hungry, desperate for anything hot.
potentially deadly bad decisions made
by the brass. The first, most critical
thing Bessinger did for me was to give
me the short course in survival on the
front. By example, he taught me how
to navigate the lethal terrain of war.
Stop grousing. By January 1945 the
Germans were in retreat but still dead-
ly. The most dangerous thing we did
was fighting house to house. You have
no idea what might be waiting for you.
Some civilians hung white flags in win-
dows to let Allied soldiers know they
were peaceful, but so did German
troops hoping to trick us. When we
were not fighting or trying to get warm,
we did what soldiers have always done
—we groused. Once, Captain Bessinger
listened patiently as I ticked off my
growing list of complaints about the
Army—from the inadequacy of our air
support to the woeful quality of the
food. One day, almost sputtering with
disgust, I began to rant, “I don’t know
how the hell we’re going to win this
war . . .” At that point, Captain
Bessinger had enough. As usual he
had a cheekful of Red Man chewing
tobacco. Perhaps to emphasize his
point, he spat out his tobacco and said,
“Shit, kid, they’ve got an army too.”
Earn trust and respect. The men
quickly seemed to accept me, even like
me, and I soon felt comfortable, even
safe, with them. Trust, a kind of love,
and the knowledge that you share a
common fate, forges bonds between
soldiers. Courage is so often a function
of that sense of belonging, and some-
times so is cowardice. GIs were citizen
soldiers who had to obey their officers,
but they didn’t have to respect them.
Most new officers had no idea how to
win over their men. The lucky ones
had the empathy and emotional intel-
ligence to realize that their acceptance
was not a given and to signal their
respect to those under their command.
When I went through Officer Candidate
School, our instructors at Fort Benning,
charged with the task of turning raw
material into officers, tried to warn us
how important it was to prove our-
selves to those we led. It was one of
countless ways they tried, at record
speed, to create officers who inspired
trust and might stay alive long enough
to win the war. You can’t command
respect, they warned us: “Don’t flaunt
those gold bars. You have to earn them.”
Seek advanced training. Although I
didn’t appreciate it at the time, I was
lucky to have been trained as an officer
at Fort Benning. There, I completed an
updated version of the same grueling,
legendary Infantry Officer Basic Course
by Warren Bennis
L e a d e r s h i p E x c e l l e n c e O c t o b e r 2 0 1 0 3
I t m a t t e r s m o s t i n t h e t r e n c h e s .
that polished the military and leader-
ship skills of “Ike” Eisenhower, George
Marshall, and Colin Powell. Our motto
was emblazoned on a banner: “I am the
Infantry, the Queen of Battle. Follow Me!”
We trained for 17 weeks in weapons,
communications, navigation, fitness,
vehicle and equipment maintenance,
and leadership. We learned how to
fight the enemy under the most realis-
tic conditions the Army could simulate.
Thanks to Benning, I didn’t have to
master the tricky business of fighting
house to house in Germany. We learned
the art of it in the replica of a European
village the Army built on red Georgia
clay. There I learned skills and habits
that have served me well my entire life.
I learned the value of organization. I
learned how to work as part of a team.
I learned that one of my most important
jobs was to take care of my people. Fort
Benning was exhausting and demand-
ing. But I found a lot to like there. The
military was a great equalizer, and
Benning was as close to a meritocracy
as I’ve known. You could come from
the wealthiest family and be a disaster;
you could come from the poorest fami-
ly and be a success. All that mattered
was performance—and attitude.
Education in leadership should pre-
pare you for what needs to be done.
Most lessons were experiential, and of
the highest order. I never heard any-
thing at MIT or Harvard that topped
the best lectures I heard at Benning, no
doubt because I knew they might save
my life. The school wants three things
out of officers: academically sound,
physically fit, and leadership. Lack of
leadership washes the majority out.
Everything you do in the field indicates
whether you have leadership or not.
Know the downside of leadership. I
don’t know now why I volunteered for
Officer Candidate School. There were
no early indications that I’d develop a
fascination with leadership or even the
stomach for it. I remember reading
Julius Caesar in junior high school and
thinking it was a cautionary tale. Being
a leader might make you rich and
famous, but it could also get you killed.
That seemed like a pronounced downside
to a child afraid of almost everything,
from dogs to lightning. I’ve always
believed that fear is as contagious as
measles or chicken pox, and my moth-
er was the perfect vector. She was the
least calm person I’ve ever known (my
father called her Calamity Jane), and I
think I caught my early fearfulness from
her. Oddly enough, I was rarely afraid
as a soldier. That was true even though
I knew that the average platoon leader
back on. And none of my men got sent
back because of trench foot. It is one of
the things I’m most proud of doing in
the war. It was an example of an officer
fulfilling one of his most important
obligations—taking care of his men.
Endure to the end. By April 1945, we
knew the war had to end soon. At that
point, we got really scared. Nobody
wanted to die on the last day of the
war. We had just one more town to
take—in Bavaria, near Ulm. The town
had been bombed by Allied planes, but
there were still enough tall buildings to
shelter German snipers. My platoon
was between two others whose orders
were to cross the airfield and take the
town. It was clear that we’d be vulner-
able to enemy fire if we went in with-
out armored support, so one of my
forward observers called for tank sup-
port. In time, the tank commander
arrived, took one look at the exposed
airfield, and refused to lead
us in. I don’t know what
got into me, but I told him
that he would most certainly
be leading us in. I’d already
drawn my pistol. The man
was much older—I’d just
turned 20—but he was per-
suaded by my argument.
We swept into town behind
three tanks, with his in the
lead. Later, my superiors
awarded me the bronze
star for my soldiering that day.
Invent a new life. I stayed in the Army
after the war was over in Europe and
ended up in Frankfurt. There I partici-
pated in a project that planted the seeds
of my interests in leadership: interviewing
soldiers about their morale, the quality
of their leaders, and what they wanted
to do in the future. I also spent much
time in the officers club, educating
myself for what I hoped lay ahead.
Without being obvious, I began to be a
first-class noticer of officers’ behavior.
On August 6, 1945, I was on a base
in Heidelberg. As the officer of the day, I
was inspecting the men at the guard
posts when one soldier, wild-eyed,
saluted and blurted out, “Sir, did you
hear the news on Armed Forces Network
—we dropped 20,000 tons of TNT on
Hiroshima. It’s gone. They say the
Japanese must now surrender!”
I thanked him for the report. He sal-
uted and said, with a look of joy,
“Now we can have our lives back.”
I realized I didn’t want my old life
back—I wanted to invent a new one. LE
Warren Bennis is author of Still Surprised, a Memoir of a Life
in Leadership (Wiley). Visit www.WarrenBennis.com.
ACTION: Apply these lessons in leadership.
had only six weeks to three months
before he was seriously wounded or
killed. I rarely thought I’d die, even
when we were under fire. In fact, I was
far more anxious as a new university
president than I ever was in combat.
Fully assume the role. My lack of
fear may have been directly related to
the role I assumed as a platoon leader.
That role required me to appear calm
and fearless to my men. Too often we
look to psychobiography, not role, to
explain behavior. I believe that the roles
we play in life have more to do with our suc-
cesses or failures than our personal histories.
Being a soldier came with an impres-
sive costume—a handsome uniform.
And much as a good actor does, when
I put on that uniform and the gold bars
that went with it, I instantly became an
officer. The role prescribed certain atti-
tudes and behaviors, and provided models
for how I was to act. It empowered me
to try on selves that nothing
in my past had suggested
to me. I was expected to
lead my men and give and
enforce orders and so I did,
without any of the hesita-
tion or insecurity that was
natural to the boy I’d been.
The uniform gave me per-
mission—required me, real-
ly—to observe the officers
around me and to find
strategies for being a suc-
cessful officer in their example. Nothing
in my previous life had indicated there was a
leader in me waiting to emerge. But the
uniform gave me entree into the lead-
ers’ world. It created expectations of lead-
ership that I was eager to fulfill, and it
gave me an ideal vantage point from which
to observe good leadership and bad being
played out in real time for the highest possi-
ble stakes, human lives. In an almost
magical way, the uniform bestowed on
me the ability to do what I had to do. It
was talisman and inspiration, a symbol
of my new authority and responsibility.
Take care of people’s physical needs.
In the field, one danger was trench foot.
Our boots and socks would quickly
become soaked. Soon our feet would
become infected. If not tended to prop-
erly, the toenails fell off, the feet turned
black, and developed gangrene. The
problem was enormous, especially for
soldiers stuck in foxholes. The only
way to avoid it was to take off your
boots and socks, wash your feet, and
dry them carefully, toe by toe, prefer-
ably by a fire. Nightly, I made sure
each man took off his boots, washed
his feet, dried them carefully, and put
on dry socks before he put his boots
4 O c t o b e r 2 0 1 0 L e a d e r s h i p E x c e l l e n c e
promises to myself and my father, it
would end like this. We would all die
in these mountains. We would sink
beneath the snow, the ancient silence
would fall over us, and our loved ones
would never know how hard we had
struggled to return to them.
In that moment all my dreams,
assumptions, and expectations of life
evaporated into the thin Andean air.
I’d always thought that life was the
actual thing, the natural thing, and that
death was simply the end of living.
Now, in this lifeless place, I saw with a
terrible clarity that death was the con-
stant, death was the base, and life was
only a short, fragile dream. I was dead
already. I’d been born dead, and what I
thought was my life was just a game
death let me play as it waited to take me.
In my despair, I felt a sharp and
sudden longing for the softness of my
mother and my sister, and the warm,
strong embrace of my father. My love
for my father swelled in my heart, and
I realized that, despite the hopelessness
of my situation, the memory of him
filled me with joy. It staggered me: The
mountains, for all their power, were
not stronger than my attachment to my
father. They could not crush my ability
to love. I felt a moment of calmness
and clarity, and in that clarity of mind I
discovered a simple, astounding secret:
Death has an opposite, but the oppo-
site is not mere living. It is not courage
or faith or human will. The opposite of
death is love. How had I missed that?
How does anyone miss that? Love is
our only weapon. Only love can turn
mere life into a miracle, and draw pre-
cious meaning from suffering and fear.
For a brief, magical moment, all my
fears lifted, and I knew that I would
not let death control me. I would walk
Keep Hope Alive
IN OCTOBER 1972,
Uruguayan Air Force
Flight 571, carrying the
Uruguayan rugby team, crashed into
the Andes Mountains, leaving 16 peo-
ple to survive for 72 days among the
highest peaks of Argentina and Chile.
After waking from the crash with a
concussion, I learned that my mother
had died on impact and my sister was
near death. I became obsessed with
surviving. My rugby teammate
Roberto Canessa and I decided to
search for a way out of the mountains.
Here I describe reaching the first sum-
mit, which took four days to climb:
It was an agonizing process, inch-
ing up the mountain that way, and the
hours passed slowly. Sometime in late
morning I spotted blue sky above a
ridgeline and worked my way toward
it. After so many false summits, I had
learned to keep my hopes in check,
but this time, as I climbed over the
ridge’s edge, the slope fell away flat
and I found myself standing on a
gloomy hump of rock and wind-
scoured snow. It dawned on me slow-
ly that there was no more mountain
above me. I had reached the top.
I don’t remember feeling any joy or
sense of achievement. If I did, it van-
ished as soon as I glanced around. The
summit gave me a 360-degree view of
creation. From here I could see the
horizon circling the world like the rim
of a colossal bowl, and in every direc-
tion off into the fading blue distance,
the bowl was crowded with legions of
snow-covered mountains, each as
steep as the one I had just climbed. I
knew that the Fairchild’s copilot had
been badly mistaken. We had not
passed Curicó, we were nowhere near
the western limits of the Andes. Our
plane had fallen somewhere in the
middle of the vast cordillera.
I stood there, staring, motionless
until I felt a burning pressure in my
lungs, and I realized I had forgotten to
breathe. I sucked air. My legs went
rubbery, and I fell to the ground. I
cursed God and raged at the moun-
tains. The truth was before me: for all
my striving, all my hopes, all my
through the god-forsaken country that
separated me from my home with love
and hope in my heart. I would walk
until I had walked all the life out of
me, and when I fell I would die that
much closer to my father. These
thoughts strengthened me, and with
renewed hope I began to search for
pathways through the mountains.
“There must be a way through the
mountains,” I said.” Do you see there,
in the distance, two smaller peaks with
no snow on them? Maybe the mountains
end there. We should head that way.”
In the morning we climbed the steps
to the summit. Roberto stood beside
me. I saw the fear in his eyes, but I also
saw the courage. “We may be walking
to our deaths,” I said, “but I’d rather
walk to meet my death than wait for
death to come to me.”
Roberto nodded. “You and I are
friends, Nando,” he said. “We’ve been
through so much. Now let’s go die
together.” We walked to the western lip
of the summit, eased ourselves over the
edge, and began to make our way down.
MMaakkee MMiirraacclleess ooff YYoouurr OOwwnn
I hope that my story helps you cope
with adversity. In adversity, leaders
often must take things one day at a
time, keep hope alive, and make mira-
cles of their own.
This harrowing experience taught
me to look forward, never backward,
because I can’t modify the past. Many
times I’ve asked myself why did I have
to go through something so extreme?
Why did I invite my mother and sister
to go with me, only to die in the plane
crash? I realized these questions will
never be answered, no matter how
hard I search for them.
I learned that most of our lives will
be dictated by our own decisions and
actions. I followed my heart and intu-
ition when I was faced with the most
horrible and hard circumstances I could
imagine, and I still do that every day.
This experience taught me much
about leadership. The teamwork that
occurred in an extreme survival envi-
ronment showed me that there’s a dif-
ferent type of leadership. Leaders
emerged because of their actions and
work, not because they were appointed
leadership positions. They were com-
passionate, and the collaboration grew
to levels where we were giving our
lives for one another. I have tried to be
the same type leader with my compa-
nies, and it has worked. I give people
my best, and they give me their best.
My people are my companies, not the
other way around.
by Nando Parrado
L e a d e r s h i p E x c e l l e n c e O c t o b e r 2 0 1 0 5
C h a r t a c o u r s e t o t h e s u m m i t .
In 2001/02, we went through a hard
economic crisis. This crisis directly
impacted my business. The situation
was so overwhelming that we didn’t
know what to do, except that we had
to do something. We started by cutting
corners. I cut out all of the insurance
on the company’s assets. If we were
broke, what was the importance of
insurance? At one point, we even stop-
ped buying office supplies. I also rene-
gotiated salaries with all of my staff
and employees. We took it step by step,
not knowing if we would survive.
Thankfully, we were staying active.
Many companies that were paralyzed
by the economy did not survive.
When I was faced with this business
crisis, I asked myself: How much
would I have given 30 years ago to be
in a situation where I was refinancing
with banks, negotiating new employee
salaries, and making incredibly fast
decisions that could make me go broke?
During that time, I would have
signed any paper given to me by the
devil to be alive and have to go
through a bad business storm, instead
of being condemned to die a most hor-
rible death. These were business deci-
sions, whereas in the mountains, all of
the answers were measured in terms
of my own life or death. To make deci-
sions where the outcome would only
relate to business gave me perspective.
And then I just took it one day at a
time. Three years after this huge busi-
ness crisis, I was in the black again.
In business, I like to think I deal
with issues, not adversity. Sometimes
things do not go in the direction that I
want them to go. Yet, I keep moving
on regardless. I do not see failing as
being unsuccessful. When adversity
comes, I look at the situation and
determine the best course of action. I
try to sail through the storm, always
going forward—one step at a time. I
think the essential thing is to not stop,
but to always move forward.
I’ve redefined the meaning of the
word impossible. For me, the only
insurmountable thing is death. All
other things can be dealt with. You can
go around them, change them, leave
them, push them, change directions,
change jobs. You always have options.
If you face any insurmountable odds
in a financial crisis, business crisis,
relationship crisis, health crisis, you
can dive inside yourself and search for
your own version of a miracle. LE
Nando Parrado, “Miracle in the Andes” plane crash survivor
is author of Miracle in the Andes. Visit www.parrado.com.
ACTION: Keep moving forward.
by Mitch Albom
a pill for his peace of mind. He loved to
smile. He avoided anger. He was never
haunted by “Why am I here?” He knew
why: to give to others, to celebrate God, and
to enjoy and honor the world he was put
in. His morning prayer began “Thank
you, Lord, for returning my soul to me.”
When you start that way, the rest of
the day is a bonus.
What makes a man happy? I asked him.
He rolled his eyes around the hospi-
tal room. “This may not be the best
setting for that question. On the other
hand, here we must face the real issues.
Some people will get better. Some will
not. So it may be a good place to define
what happiness means. Society tells us
we must have things to be happy—a
new this or that, a bigger house, a bet-
ter job. I know the falsity of it. I have
counseled many people who have all
these things, and I can tell you they are
not happy because of them. The num-
ber of marriages that have disintegrat-
ed when they had all the stuff in the
world. The families who fought and
argued all the time, when they had
money and health. Having more does not
keep you from wanting more. And if you
always want more—to be richer, more
beautiful, more famous—
you are missing the bigger
picture, and I can tell you,
happiness will never come.”
Suddenly, in the hall, I
heard an infant scream, fol-
lowed by a quick “shhh!”
presumably from its moth-
er. The Reb heard it, too.
“That child reminds me
of something our sages
taught. When a baby comes
into the world, its hands are clenched.
Why? Because a baby, not knowing
any better, wants to grab everything,
to say, ‘The whole world is mine.’ But
when an old person dies, how does he
do so? With his hands open. Why?
Because he has learned the lesson.”
What lesson? I asked.
He stretched open his empty fin-
gers. “We can take nothing with us.”
For a moment we both stared at his
hand. It was trembling.
So, have we solved the secret of
happiness? I asked.
“I believe so,” he said.
Are you going to tell me?
“Be satisfied. Be grateful for what
you have. For the love you receive.
And for what God has given you.”
He looked me in the eye. Then he
sighed deeply. “That’s it.” LE
Mitch Albom is the best selling author of Have a Little Faith
and Tuesdays with Morrie. Visit www.mitchalbom.com.
ACTION: Be happy now.
MANY PEOPLE SEARCH
for happiness in a
tablet: Prozac. Paxil.
Xanax. Billions are spent to advertise
and purchase such drugs. You don’t
even need a specific trauma; just gener-
al depression or anxiety, as if sadness
were as treatable as the common cold.
I know that depression is real, and
often requires medical attention. I also
know that much of what we call depres-
sion is dissatisfaction, a result of setting a
bar impossibly high or expecting trea-
sures that we aren’t willing to work
for. I know people whose unbearable
source of misery is their weight, bald-
ness, lack of advancement at work, or
their inability to find the perfect mate,
even if they themselves don’t behave
like one. To these people, unhappiness
is a condition, an intolera-
ble state of affairs. If pills
help, pills are taken.
But pills can’t change
the basic problem—want-
ing what you can’t have;
looking for self-worth in
the mirror; layering work
on top of work and won-
dering why you aren’t sat-
isfied—then working more.
I knew this from experi-
ence. There was a stretch where I could
not have worked more hours without
eliminating sleep altogether. I piled on
accomplishments. I made money. I
earned accolades. And the longer I
went at it, the emptier I began to feel.
The time I spent with Morrie, my old
professor, changed much of that. After
watching him die, and seeing what
mattered to him at the end, I cut back.
But I still kept my hands on my own
wheel. I didn’t turn things over to fate
or faith. I recoiled from people who put
their daily affairs in divine hands, say-
ing, “If God wants it, it will happen.” I
kept silent when people said all that
mattered was their relationship with Jesus.
Such surrender seemed silly to me. I
felt like I knew better. But I couldn’t
say I felt any happier than they did.
LLeessssoonn ffrroomm RReebb
My friend Reb, for all the milligrams
of medication he required, never popped
Have a Little Faith
Be grateful for what you have.
6 O c t o b e r 2 0 1 0 L e a d e r s h i p E x c e l l e n c e
selves, or they risk giving way to feel-
ing trapped, unable to please or to win.
High-impact leaders dare to make
strategic and tactical moves when oth-
ers are stalled. They bypass fear, since
fear is a paralyzing agent. Action and
movement release energy that is often
suppressed by worry of failure. They
create focus and alignment and man-
age their way out of adversity.
TTeenn HHaarrdd--TTiimmee TTaaccttiiccss
Here are 10 things to do in hard times:
1. Reallocate time to high-percentage,
short-term returns. Focus 80
percent of time on the most
important 20 percent to get
the most short-term impact.
Allocate more time on
Reduce time spent in meet-
ings. Become more focused
on performance goals and
aligned around strategy.
2. Create measures around
high-impact programs and
projects. You can only control what you
can measure. Focus on what matters
most by asking for only a few key
numbers. Focus on where the organiza-
tion can leverage its strengths.
3. Meet directly and frequently with
the sales force. Sales is the conduit to
the eyes and ears of the customer and
the place where rapid decision-making
can keep leaders ahead of a downward
curve. Start meeting with sales and ser-
vice managers every week and ask
them what can be done to increase
their time spent with customers and
prospects. Too much time is spent on
non-customer related activities. In hard
times, you need to ask questions and
find ways to increase efficiency, effec-
tiveness, productivity, and innovation.
4. Leverage A players and reduce C
players. Cut the least effective. Having
the right people in the right positions
ensures survivability by boosting the
bottom line dramatically while getting
the job done more efficiently.
5. Install innovation and improve-
ment teams with flexibility to cut across
departments and businesses. One team
might focus on cost reduction (efficiency),
another on opportunities (innovation).
Tell the innovation team to propose only
two initiatives (make them be selec-
Leading in Hard Times
ed leaders who make
good decisions rapidly
and adjust quickly can thrive in bad
times. They focus on short-term wins
and adapt their style to the new normal.
They set clear direction and enable
passionate champions to drive results
and accept accountability. In this way,
they build a committed work force.
They talk directly to the front-line
sales and service force to learn what
customers want. They talk to man-
agers about what employees are
thinking, feeling, and needing.
Great leaders see bad times as an
opportunity to fix, repair, prepare, adjust,
focus, and become more action-oriented.
They think about what they need to
do to get through the challenge and
better prepare for the new. One expe-
rienced leader said: “Bad times are
like times in a sailboat race when the
wind stops. The winning boat uses
this time to get ready to be the first to
catch the wind.” High-impact leaders
send clear messages, always with the
underlying theme–we’ll get through
this and be better in the next round.
LLeeaaddiinngg wwiitthh CCoouurraaggee
Leading in turbulent times can tear
leaders apart. Hard times can become
even lonelier for leaders, since they
must project a positive but realistic
spirit. On the outside, leaders have to
be resolute and strong while often
their hearts are broken, knowing that
good people lose their jobs, incomes
are reduced, and projects delayed.
Leaders also come under attack as
negativity abounds, everyone wants
more time with them. This starts at
the top. Boards become more critical,
ask more questions, want more check-
points, and may not understand why
things aren’t turning faster.
Relationships suffer. More demands
on direct reports result in a feeling of
pulling away. Peers who once were
pals seem to compete, with less time
for just getting together. As intensity
builds, leaders can feel under siege.
Yet leaders must avoid bunker men-
tality and must take care of them-
tive). Tell the cost-reduction (efficiency)
team that they can’t impact quality
delivery to customers (effectiveness).
6. Lean on “go to” people. When
times get tough, lean on winners.
Winners never give up; they express
hope, confidence, and passion; and
they make the tough decisions and
move on with them. Winners are pas-
sionate champions. Employ your pas-
sionate champions as change leaders.
(without overextending them).
Passionate champions are A players
who want results, make results hap-
pen, and deliver every time possible.
7. Triple communications. In hard
times, people need to hear more fre-
quently what the plan is and be reas-
sured of the objectives. Weekly, comment
on progress toward goals. Daily, con-
nect with people to encourage them
and praise their efforts in advancing
the business. During a
threatening time, ample
focused drive and keeps
8. Get in front of cus-
tomers more. Listen to cus-
tomers to find nuggets of
opportunity. Use a bad
time to listen more to your
customers. Assign senior
managers 10 accounts to
oversee and to ask customers, “What
are two or three reasons that you buy
our products and services?” Ask this
question to open the door to new pos-
sibilities. Meet monthly to discuss
what was learned and who and what
can be improved.
9. Get rid of waste. Bad times enable
leaders to get under the covers. Track
your use of time and look for specific
ways you can better align your time
around the major initiatives. You may
see your sales volume rise dramatically.
10. Make the tough moves now.
When you know you are right, don’t
hesitate. Make the moves when you
need to make them. During difficult
times, change is even harder. Once you
get through it, everyone sees it’s the
right thing to do. Use hard times to
upgrade on all key positions.
When the air is full of fear, brave
hearts—leaders with conviction—con-
fidently walk in the direction that most
are running away from. Mustering oth-
ers to follow, they win others to join
them by speaking in simple language
and overcoming barriers with resolve
that keeps everyone focused. LE
Phil Harkins: Linkage CEO, GILD co-chair, powerful conver-
sationalist. Visit www.linkageinc.com.
ACTION: Try these 10 tactics.
by Phil Harkins
L e a d e r s h i p E x c e l l e n c e O c t o b e r 2 0 1 0 7
Exercise courage and apply 10 tactics.
3. Maintain a united front. A reason-
able amount of conflict is good. It can
help stimulate ideas and bring out the
best in people. But as a leader, your job
is to have the final say. Your team might
squabble and butt heads, but your job
is to ensure that they all leave the table
with a common purpose. “We can argue
all we want behind closed doors, but
when we put on our public face, our
team must be in agreement externally.”
4. Set (and manage) expectations. As
a leader, you set the collective tone,
attitude, and work ethic of your team.
Decide what is expected and make
your thoughts known. Do you expect
others to meet deadlines or to exceed
them? Will you track everyone’s work-
ing hours, or do you allow some flexi-
bility? How informed should your
direct reports keep you about the sta-
tus of their projects—just the high
points or do you prefer detail? Your
people are not mind readers! Make
sure they know what you expect of
them and what they can expect from
you. Keep regular appointments to
review each individual’s progress and
to reinforce your expectations. As pri-
orities conflict and you adjust expecta-
tions, share these changes with your
team. If someone needs to drop every-
thing and focus on one problem or pro-
ject, make sure he or she knows it. If
you need to be kept more informed
about a key initiative, make the person
responsible aware by saying, “Please
keep me posted on your progress and
let me know if you run into problems.”
5. Don’t just make rules—build char-
acter. You can set rules all day, but what
you want to do is help develop the
character of your team. Character is
what kicks in when the rules break
down. It is also what helps your team
get through tough, demanding times.
is great. But once
you become a leader,
productivity is no longer just a matter
of being the best you can be, but of bring-
ing out the best in others. This can be
hard! Priorities compete. Personalities
conflict. And some folks just won’t
commit to doing productive work.
So how do you create a productive
team culture that contributes not only
to individual productivity, but also to
that of the group? Here are six tips:
1. Teach others that “not in their job
description” should be “not in their
vocabulary.” Sometimes, employees
are asked to do things outside of their
normal duties. When it takes a team
effort to get the job done, you want
folks ready to roll up their sleeves and
pitch in. Yes, in general, you want
everyone to have their own defined
responsibilities. But these tidy bound-
aries can’t hold up 100 percent of the
time. Keep a positive attitude and
reward your team for pulling together
and getting things done. Create a cul-
ture where people jump at the chance
to help others as opposed to standing
back and watching the chaos unfold.
2. Save the day now. Fix the prob-
lem later. Imagine this scenario: there’s
a big project on the line, and your
team needs to pull together to pull it
off one day before the deadline. You’re
frustrated. You want to know how this
happened. Who dropped the ball?
Why didn’t they ask for help sooner?
Where did the system break down?
Well, forget it—at least until the dust
settles. This is not the time for second-
guessing, finger-pointing, or scape-
goating; you can’t tolerate any of that
from anyone on your team. At the out-
set of your work, let everyone know
that problems will be addressed, but
not until the crisis has passed. The first
order of business it to pull together
and finish the project with a positive
attitude. Once the project is complete,
you can figure out what happened,
and ensure that it never happens
again. This way, cooler heads prevail,
and the project won’t suffer because of
internal strife and tension.
A team with strong character requires
much less management. People appre-
ciate not being micromanaged, and
you’ll have more time to address your
job duties. High productivity is based
on a person’s values. If you employ
someone who values hard work and
honesty, that’s what you can expect
from them when you’re not looking.
Clearly state the productivity traits you
want people to demonstrate: integrity,
accountability, punctuality, excellence,
self-discipline, responsibility, and hon-
esty. Post them on your wall. Repeat
them often. Refer to your values when
explaining your decisions. Ensure that
your team knows what you stand for
and what you expect from them.
6. Engage your employees. Engaged
employees enthusiastically contribute
to both team and company success.
They are proud of what they do and
where they work. The leader makes the
difference here: the relationship between
employee and manager is an excellent gauge
of the employee’s engagement level. Engaged
employees are SuperCompetent: the type
of people you count on to drive perfor-
mance outcomes. Engagement is driven
by several factors, including employee
confidence and autonomy, the nature
and quality of the job, access to training
and career development, opportunities
for growth, ongoing communication
and feedback, a clear grasp of the goals
and why their contributions matter,
trust in the leaders and their integrity,
pride in the company and their place in
it, relationships with team members
and co-workers, and presence of a com-
petent and supportive managers who
foster an environment of excellence and
motivate team members by walking the
talk, making personal integrity clear.
7. Lead by example. People might
question what you say, but they can’t
deny what they see you do. If you arrive
late, miss deadlines, or settle for slop-
py work, you signal that that this is
acceptable. If you show a sincere com-
mitment to following through on your
promises, fulfilling your obligations,
and behaving with integrity, you set a
positive standard. Be consistent.
Contradicting yourself one time can
undo years of demonstrating good
behavior. People tend to notice incon-
sistency in a heartbeat and have little
patience for it. Hold your team to a
high standard, but hold yourself to an
even higher one. LE
Laura Stack is a productivity expert, speaker, founder of The Pro-
ductivity Pro, and author of Supercompetent, The Exhaustion
Cure, Find More Time, and Leave the Office Earlier. Call 303-
471-7401 or visit www.TheProductivityPro.com.
ACTION: Cultivate a culture of excellence.
by Laura Stack
8 O c t o b e r 2 0 1 0 L e a d e r s h i p E x c e l l e n c e
C r e a t e a c u l t u r e o f e x c e l l e n c e .
you can rapidly define a future worth
aiming for; and you can use After
Action Reviews to understand what
works and what doesn’t.
Increasingly, it is quality of think-
ing that differentiates great companies
from good ones. I co-founded thinkx
intellectual capital to bring together
colleagues from all over the world to
help people raise the power of their
thinking—to think exponentially.
Some say the x in thinkx
the notion of unlimited thinking and
unlimited possibilities. We see it as
exponential power—of you, your com-
pany, and your results.
Most organizations have the ideas
they need inside their own walls. By
developing the productive thinking
capacity of your people, you can gen-
erate more ideas, more innovative
ideas, more workable ideas, and, ulti-
mately, more success.
Productive Thinking is a clear,
repeatable process for solving prob-
lems, identifying opportunities, and
creating innovative change. It can
help you raise the power of your
thinking—to think exponentially. Your
organization’s most important
resource is its capacity for
productive thinking. The
better your people can
think, evaluate, and apply
their ideas, the more suc-
cessful you are.
Whether working alone
or in teams, you will get
better results in less time
by developing your pro-
ductive thinking skills.
With productive thinking,
you discover a new sense of freedom,
confidence, and possibility, project
teams perform at the highest level of
productivity and creativity, and solu-
tions are transformed from good to
I founded my company thinkx
three beliefs: 1) The most productive
priority in any organization is the
development of its intellectual and
creative capital so it can tap into the
wisdom of its people; 2) Although
many people talk about innovation,
few understand how to make it hap-
pen; and 3) How we think can be more
important than what we know.
The Productive Thinking Process
can help you see more clearly, think
more creatively, and plan more effec-
Tim Hurson is co-founder of thinkx
and author of Think
Better: An Innovator’s Guide to Productive Thinking. Visit
www.thinkxic.com or www.timhurson.com.
ACTION: Try the Productive Thinking Process.
AS SOMEONE WHO
consults with lead-
ers in strategic prob-
lem-solving, I’m often asked, “What
are the most common problems you
see in the companies you work with?”
It only takes me a moment to answer.
There are three:
1. Solving the wrong problems.
Almost everywhere I go, I see rooms
full of smart, dedicated people, work-
ing their tails off—on the wrong stuff.
Companies spend gobs of time, ener-
gy, and money trying to solve the
wrong problems. Often their solutions
are well-designed, clever, even bril-
liant. But if you’re asking the wrong
question, it really doesn’t matter how
good your answer is. It’s not going to
address the real problem.
2. Heading toward
nowhere. Time and again, I
see leaders implementing
new programs without a
clear idea of where they
want to go. Sometimes they
know what they’re trying to
change from, but rarely do
they have a clear view of
the future they want to
reach. It’s like trying to find
Waldo without knowing
what he looks like. You can’t. Yet
many companies spend huge amounts
of time and energy aiming somewhere
into the future, hoping they’ll hit a
3. Filling the same hole over and
over. Despite what we hear about
companies becoming learning organi-
zations, very few of them know how
to learn from their successes and fail-
ures. They institute programs, market-
ing campaigns, strategies, and then
when they’re finished, they don’t real-
ly learn from them. No wonder a com-
mon complaint is the cynical comment
about the latest flavor-of-the-month
Sound familiar? You’ve likely
encountered each of these syndromes
more than once in your career. The
good news is that you can learn sim-
ple thinking tools to avoid these three
common mistakes: You can easily
identify the right problems to solve;
Get tools to help you.
by Tim Hurson
L e a d e r s h i p E x c e l l e n c e O c t o b e r 2 0 1 0 9
LEADING ANY ORGANI-
zation requires deal-
ing with hot-button
diversity issues as race, gender, sexual
orientation, and immigration status. If
your workforce doesn’t look anything
like the people you are selling to, or
making things for, or teaching, you are
less likely to be successful.
When I was Governor of Vermont, I
always had a female chief of staff who
did most of the hiring. Soon I noticed
that my office had become a matri-
archy. The vast majority of senior staff
were women, half the Cabinet appoint-
ments were women, and half Judicial
appointments were women. One day
my chief of staff came to my office and
told me she was hiring a new policy
analyst: “I just want you to know that
you’ll be seeing a new face around here.”
I said, “Let’s discuss this. There’s a
tremendous gender imbalance in this
office, and I wonder if you could find a
man for this position?”
She answered, “Governor, you’re
right. There is an imbalance. But it’s so
hard to find a qualified man.”
We are all more comfortable hiring
people like us—people who look like us,
people we went to school, or church, or
synagogue with. It’s not just aging
white guys like me who do it. Women
do it, African Americans do it, Jews do
it, Catholics do it, Gay people do it—
everybody does it—and doing it does-
n’t mean we are all racist or bigots. But
in a diverse country, ethnocentrism
leads to institutional racism if one group
of people does most of the hiring.
The trick is to understand what sub-
conscious decisions those who do the
hiring are likely to make outside the
hiring process, and figure out how to
compensate for that. Since becoming
aware of subconscious matters is such
hard work, I recommend that you
diversify the group that does the hir-
ing. You can better achieve diversity by
having the hiring done by a diverse group.
When I took over the Democratic
National Committee, I became the titu-
lar head of a very diverse organization.
But there was not as much diversity
inside the organization as you might
expect from a political organization
And sharing the power.
by Howard Dean
that was selling its candidates to an
incredible array of customers. We had
17 desks for various interest groups:
one for Hispanics, African Americans,
Gays and Lesbians, Women, Veterans,
Religious groups, Asian Americans,
Pro-choice advocates, Jews, etc.
This arrangement had two big prob-
lems. First, it continued the warring
interest group model (which yielded
few results). Second, although anyone
could find someone they could identify
with at the DNC to talk with, the core
functions of the party at the top were
controlled by white men; hence, the
various desks couldn’t break through
the hierarchy in a reliable way to get
what they and their constituents needed.
So, despite the objections of many
groups who thought their influence
would wane, we got rid of the desks
and replaced the outreach program with
a single office—the American Majority
Project. The message was clear: We still
care about your group, but we’re now going
to look at you for all your talents, and on
the merits, not simply as a member of an
ethnic or other minority to be dealt with.
And: The only way we can be a majority
in this party of so many minorities is if we
all work together for a common goal.
This could not have worked without
an even bigger change. When I won the
election, a team of experienced DNC
members assessed all we were doing.
Their mission was to keep those who
wanted to change and who were doing
their job well, gently send the others
on their way, and build a senior opera-
tions team that looked like our voters.
Over time, constituents were delighted
to find that instead of having a desk to
deal with them, they had senior people who
understood them and their community,
even if the answer to a request was no!
We need to change organizations so
that the old, rapidly-shrinking majority
(people like me) no longer relies on
tokenism and silos to satisfy a diverse
customer base. The majority must accel-
erate the inevitable—genuine power-sharing
in senior decision-making. We can better
appeal to a diversity of people with a
unified message when we are credible
in terms of conveying both our loyalty
to the ideals and qualities of our orga-
nization and our loyalty and personal
understanding of people we talk to.
The bar has been raised by the new
generation. The question is not simply,
“Do they look like me?” but “Do they
understand me?” and “Do they have
enough clout to deliver for me?” LE
Howard Dean is former governor of Vermont and founder of
Democracy for America. Visit www.democracyforamerica.com.
ACTION: Share leadership with diverse talent.
by Hank Haney
you must be patient with your plan.
This formula works for everything in
life, including executive coaching.
One key to success is to always
have a plan, whether it is in teaching
golf, in business, or in life in general,
so I am always talking about having a
plan. You can’t get to where you want
to go without a plan. The Haney Plan
is my personal plan for success.
The best part of being an owner and
leader is being able to train people
who work with you to be able to be
successful in their own right. The more
successful that people who are associ-
ated with you are, the more successful
you will be yourself, regardless of how
those people are connected to you.
I’ve always believed that all golfers
(and leaders) can improve their games
and that the real enjoyment of golf
(and leadership) is that challenge to be
the best that you can be.
Like many leaders and coaches, I’ve
gone through some transitions, but I
see transitions in my career as chal-
lenges and opportunities. I’ve moved
my career in an exciting direction,
focusing on speaking and teaching at
my own Golf Academy and opening
the Hank Haney Golf
Academy at Mission Hills
Haikou in China.
I continue to work with
golf’s top players, but my
passion is to help any golfer
with the desire to improve. My
students have won every
major championship in pro-
fessional, amateur, and
junior golf. They improve
and have fun in the process.
We train amateurs and professionals
alike in the fundamentals.
We use sophisticated digital video
analysis and work with you on every
aspect of the swing to improve power,
accuracy, and consistency. We empha-
size the short game of chipping, pitch-
ing, sand shots and putting to lower
your scores. To develop a complete
player, all the mental aspects and
course management skills are covered.
As you progress, we help you to
understand what your swing is doing
by analyzing the ball flight—the cor-
nerstone to becoming your own best
teacher. You learn how to practice,
how to play the golf course, how to
analyze your game to find the areas
that need the most improvement, and
how to think and act like a champion.LE
Hank Haney is CEO of Hank Haney Golf, former Instructor to
Tiger Woods and author of Essentials of the Swing, The Only
Golf Lesson You’ll Ever Need, No More Bad Shots and Fix
Your Yips Forever. Visit www.hankhaney.com.
ACTION: Practice patience in your leadership.
GOLF TEACHES US MANY
I consider golf to be the
hardest game to master, and the lesson
of patience is one every golfer must
learn. Patience is key in leadership; it
takes confidence to be patient; and confi-
dence comes from knowing that you know.
I admire every leader because leader-
ship is never as easy as it looks. Every
leader not only sets an example for his
or her followers, but is responsible for
creating more leaders. The more lead-
ers there are, the more able followers
there are. The more people follow, the
more goals of a group get met.
One of the greatest leadership chal-
lenges I’ve faced—and one of the great-
est opportunities that I’ve had to lead—
was resigning from working with Tiger
Woods. In doing so, I was
able to show my colleagues
that two of the most impor-
tant things in life are: 1) to
not be afraid to do some-
thing that you believe in,
and 2) when you do some-
thing, to do it the right way.
I believe that the process
that it takes to improve in
golf is no different than the
process that it takes to make
improvements in anything. The formu-
la for success is the same, and you can
always improve no matter how good
you are at something. The key is to
understand that you are either getting
better, or you are getting worse.
I know when I’m making progress
with a student. Progress always hap-
pens, but it doesn’t always show itself
in a way that you hoped or thought it
would. Goals are stepping stones that
allow you to make and see progress
with your plan. As long as you step
forward, that is all you have to moni-
tor no matter how small the steps are.
In my Teach the Teacher seminars, I
teach golf instructors how to diagnose
any situation that a coach might face
and how to formulate a plan to work
toward improvement. I don’t think it
matters what you’re trying to improve;
you must first diagnose the situation
and then formulate a step-by-step plan
to work toward improvement. Then
Think and act like a champion.
1 0 O c t o b e r 2 0 1 0 L e a d e r s h i p E x c e l l e n c e
puter scientists, but they need to know
how the intelligent use of new technol-
ogy can help them; recruit, develop,
and maintain a network of technically
competent people; make and manage
smart investments in new technology;
and be positive role models in the use
of new technology. Without technolog-
ical savvy, you can’t have integrated
global partnerships and networks.
4. Building partnerships and
alliances. Forming alliances will be
even more dramatic in the future.
ing, and downsizing are
leading to a world where
outsourcing of all but core
may become the norm. The
ability to negotiate
alliances and manage com-
plex networks of relation-
ships is increasingly
important. Joint leadership
of new business models is
vital to a successful global venture.
The changing role of customers, sup-
pliers, and partners has implications
for leaders. In the past, it was clear who
your friends (customers and collabora-
tors) and enemies (competitors) were.
In the future, these roles will become
blurred. Building positive, long-term,
win-win relationships becomes critical.
5. Sharing leadership. Sharing lead-
ership is a requirement. In an alliance,
telling partners what to do and how to
do it may lead to having no partners.
In dealing with knowledge workers—
people who know more about what
they are doing than their managers do—
old models of leadership will not work.
Future leaders will ask for input and
share information. They may be diffi-
cult to keep. They’ll view themselves
as professional free agents who will
work for the leader who provides the
most developmental challenge.
Most high-potential future leaders
see the value of these new competen-
cies and are willing to have their per-
formance measured by them. If future
leaders have the wisdom to learn from
the experience of present leaders, and
if present leaders have the wisdom to
learn new competencies from future
leaders, they can share leadership in
ways that benefit the organization.
IN ADDRESSING THE TOPIC
of future leaders, I’d
first ask, who are they?
Many qualities of effective leadership—
characteristics such as communicating
vision, demonstrating integrity, focus-
ing on results, and ensuring customer
satisfaction—will never change. But
five new factors play in the selection:
1. Thinking globally. Leaders will
need to understand the economic, cul-
tural, legal, and political ramifications
of global markets. Leaders must see
themselves as citizens of the world with
an expanded field of vision and values.
With dramatic projected increases in
global trade and integrated global tech-
nology (such as e-commerce), leaders
must learn how to manage global pro-
duction, marketing, and sales teams to
achieve competitive advantage.
New technology will make it feasi-
ble to export white-collar work world-
wide. Programmers in India will com-
municate with designers in Italy to help
develop products made in Indonesia
and sold in Brazil. Technology can
help break down barriers to global
business. Leaders who can make glob-
alization work in their favor will have
a competitive advantage.
2. Appreciating cultural diversity.
Leaders will also need to appreciate
cultural diversity, defined as diversity
of leadership style, industry style, in-
dividual behaviors and values, race,
and sex. They’ll need to understand
economic, legal, social, religious, and
motivational differences—as well as
smaller issues such as the meaning of
gifts, greetings, or timeliness.
The ability to motivate people in differ-
ent cultures is vital. Motivational strate-
gies that are effective in one culture
may be offensive in another. The same
recognition that could be a source of
pride to one could be a source of em-
barrassment to another. Leaders who
can understand, appreciate, and moti-
vate colleagues in multiple cultures
will be a very valued resource.
3. Demonstrating technological savvy.
Future leaders will view technology as
an integrated part of their lives. They
need not be gifted technicians or com-
CCooaacchhiinngg FFuuttuurree LLeeaaddeerrss
I help successful leaders achieve
positive, long-term, measurable change in
behavior—as judged by key co-workers. I
refuse to work with leaders who don’t
care. I only work with people who
make a sincere effort to change and
who believe that this change will help
them become better leaders and role
models. I won’t work with people who
have an integrity violation—those peo-
ple should be fired, not coached.
I involve key stakeholders by ask-
ing them to help the person that I am
coaching in four ways:
1. Let go of the past. When we bring
up the past constantly, we demoralize
people who are trying to change. What
happened in the past can’t be changed.
By focusing on a better future (feedfor-
ward), stakeholders help themselves
and my clients improve.
2. Be helpful and sup-
portive, not cynical, sarcas-
tic or judgmental. If my
clients reach out to key
stakeholders and feel pun-
ished for trying to improve,
they quit trying. I don’t
blame them! Why should
any of us work hard to
build relationships with
people who won’t give us
a chance? If my clients’ co-workers are
helpful and supportive, my clients are
more likely to improve.
3. Tell the truth. I do not want my
clients to get a glowing report from
key stakeholders and later hear, “He
didn’t really get better—we just said
that.” This is not fair.
4. Pick something to improve your-
self. My clients are open with stake-
holders about what behavior they are
trying to change. My clients ask for
suggestions. I also ask the stakeholders
to pick something to improve and to
ask my client for suggestions. This
makes the process two-way and helps
stakeholders act as fellow travelers,
not judges or critics. It also expands
the value gained by the corporation.
By using feedforward—and by
encouraging others to use it—leaders
can dramatically improve the quality
of communication, ensuring that the
right message is conveyed, and that
those who receive it are receptive to its
content. The result is a more dynamic,
open organization—where people
focus on the promise of the future rather
than dwell on the mistakes of the past. LE
Marshall Goldsmith is the author of Mojo, What Got You
Here Won’t Get You There and Succession. Visit
ACTION: Attend to these five factors.
by Marshall Goldsmith
L e a d e r s h i p E x c e l l e n c e O c t o b e r 2 0 1 0 1 1
H o w c a n w e h e l p t h e m ?
a vision, enlists people, and creates a cul-
ture where people can reach their potential.
Our mission and vision at NYC/LA
was to provide the system with principals
with a strong grounding in instructional
and transformational leadership who then
make a difference for children. Of course,
bureaucracy makes an organization
resist change. In education, you face
resistance in spades. This system has
been entrenched in an old paradigm for so
long that poor, status quo performance is
accepted. This happens in businesses
too. To a new leader, it is clear that
things need to be done differently.
It’s easy to realize you need a revo-
lution when you’re on a burning plat-
form—the hardest transformations are
when companies are doing well.
At Ameritech, we’d come off of six
years of record earnings. But the
chairman, who at 62 could have retired,
said the company was ill-prepared for
its future. So, we focused on mid-level
managers as leaders. We changed our
go-to-market strategy—from a 100-
year history of a big, heavy, multi-lay-
ered organization to a flat, nimble
organization with a focus on the cus-
tomer. We learned how to tap into
human capacity and human capital.
When I went to US West, it was a
burning platform—the lowest-perform-
ing Bell operating company. I thought,
Why not use the same methodology with a
different twist? As a new person, you
think you can get everyone to play at a
higher level. That doesn’t work. You’ve
also got to infuse new blood to combat
the antibodies fighting against change.
The challenge for the leader of trans-
formation is gaining traction and build-
ing momentum—moving toward a
tipping point. After just one year at the
NYC/LA, we had 77 new principals
and 242 principals whom I worked
with the previous year. When I went
AS AN EXECUTIVE
coach and leader-
ship development con-
sultant, I help senior leaders formulate
strategy and lead transformations. I’ve
led many ventures, but I’m perhaps
best known as former CEO of the
NYC Leadership Academy.
I’ve been asked, Why would a high-
tech CEO with a bright future sign up to
transform the New York public school sys-
tem? For me, it was a seductive propo-
sition. I grew up poor in a family with
13 children. So, it’s hard for me to look
the other way. Every time the media
shot at me, I remembered that most of
the kids that fail in this system look
like me. I got my reality check know-
ing this was the most important work
I’d ever tried to do. Still, many people
regard public education as an impene-
trable fortress of vested interests and
impervious to change. I tackled the
transformation task because I have a
firm commitment to learning and know
how to ignite the spark of leadership.
As CEO and teacher-in-chief of the
NYC/LA, I was part of a daring attempt
to turn school principals into agents of
change using LD practices from busi-
ness, military, and government. The
mission of the Academy was to grad-
uate leader-principals into NYC ele-
mentary, middle, and high schools.
Our tough-love approach to developing
principals into agents of change drew the
fire of the media and the ire of unions
and local politicians. In response, I
opened our books, classrooms, and
leadership philosophy to a skeptical
and often hostile press—and the
money and support kept coming in.
Leaders on the front lines of trans-
formation must be deadly serious about
LD. When I first spoke with Chancellor
Joel Klein and Mayor Michael Bloom-
berg about the change initiative and its
focus on LD, it was clear they knew that
transformation must be steered from the
top and that there is no more important
intervention than LD. Giving principals
technical training or new pedagogical
approaches has been tried before, with-
out change. The cornerstone of transfor-
mation is a strong leader who articulates
into the school system, I could see the
results—principles turned into prac-
tices and applications. The ultimate
measure was that more NYC students
graduated from high school and went
on to vocational schools or universities.
As a leader of transformation, you
continue to set the bar higher. Every
one of our intervention tracks under-
went 40 percent revision because expe-
rience made us smarter. We became a
repository of best practices. I applied
the lessons and principles in LD gleaned
from business, military, government, and
non-profits. I borrow from everybody—
if you’ve got the best, I’ll use it. I believe
in benchmarking. If you want to become
the best at what you do, learn how to
be a learner. Open yourself up to learning.
How do you evaluate a person’s po-
tential to benefit from an LD program?
When I look at aspiring principals, I
look at whether they can be great prin-
cipals in real schools. I look for edge,
energy, and vision. Do they have the
conviction and passion to enlist others?
Does the leadership bucket have a lot
more volume than the instructional
bucket? It’s hard to make a leader out
of someone who is an instructional
expert but shows no leadership traits.
When I’m recruiting principals to take
over troubled schools, I look for seasoned
veterans who have done it—people
with a track record in an urban school
system, in tough circumstances and
tough communities, and who, in spite
of all the barriers, can get it done. To
recruit them, I touted the future attrac-
tiveness of a candidate who can come
into this system and get things done.
There is great upward mobility.
How did you measure your success in
LD? First, set clear expectations—we had
a checklist of things that we promised to
do. Second, prove that you can act within
the fiscal constraints imposed upon you—
we were fiscally responsible. Third, de-
monstrate results—we showed that our
principals can turn schools around and
that students can achieve at a higher
rate. When you put the right kind of
leader in a school, within three years,
the leader can turn a school around.
Many leaders have now done it. What
I tried to do is scale it through LD.
Like most leaders, I’m focused on
bottom-line results. If I don’t improve
performance, I fail. There are safer
things I could do, but I pick difficult
things. All great leaders see the power and
wisdom of investing in people. LE
Robert E. Knowling, Jr. is Chairman of Eagles Landing
Partners and former CEO of the NYC Leadership Academy.
ACTION: Lead a transformation.
by Robert E. Knowling, Jr.
1 2 O c t o b e r 2 0 1 0 L e a d e r s h i p E x c e l l e n c e
Y e s , i t c a n e v e n h a p p e n i n e d u c a t i o n .
Create and use an active-listening
attitude. Learning to be an active listen-
er is like learning to be an active jog-
ger—it takes effort. You start little by
little and work upward. It’s as much a
state of mind as a physical activity.
Besides, as you work longer and get
better, it pays ever-increasing benefits.
SSppeeaakk wwiitthh AAuutthhoorriittyy
The ability to communicate well to
groups is vital to leadership. In fact, the
top predictor of upward mobility is how much
you enjoy and how good you are at public
speaking. Organizations seek individuals
who can sell products, present propos-
als, report findings, and explain ideas.
Improve your speaking in five ways:
Care about your subject. Passion is
the starting point. Pick a subject that
you’d like to share with others because
you know that they could benefit from
your knowledge. Enthusiasm shows.
Be brief. The best way to impress an
audience is to finish early. Said James
Roosevelt, son of FDR: “My father told
me,” “Be sincere, be brief, be seated.” So
hit it hard, hit it well, finish strong, and
keep it short. The less your audience’s
minds wander, the more they’ll appre-
ciate you and remember what you said.
Make use of memory joggers. Use
examples to transmit your message
powerfully. Statistics, if used sparingly
and presented simply, can add drama
and credibility to a message. Compar-
isons can help your audience evaluate
different options quickly and logically,
and testimony—personal stories of
credible people—can make your mes-
sage more memorable and believable.
Remember the pause that refreshes.
Use the sweet sound of silence, the
power of the pause. Pauses are not
empty spaces. Instead, they enable the
audience to respond to your words
with their own thoughts, images, and
Look of Leadership
HAVE YOU EVER BEEN TO
a gathering where
you sensed the talk was
just a series of monologues? No one is
listening. They’re rehearsing what they
might say—or talk without communicating.
While we hear, we only pretend to
listen. Listening is more than hearing.
It also takes intellectual and emotional
effort. To appreciate the other person
and what’s being said, you need to ask
questions, give feedback, remain objec-
tive, figure out what’s being said and
what’s not being said, and observe and
interpret body language. When you
want to win people’s attention, listening
is just as important as speaking. Good lis-
tening draws people to you; poor lis-
tening causes them to drift away.
Practice active listening in five ways:
Listen–really listen–to one person
for one day. Choose one person you
could relate to better. Commit to listen-
ing to him—not just hearing him—for
one day. Then, extend this exercise to
more days, and to other acquaintances.
Create a receptive listening environ-
ment. Turn off the TV. Hold your calls.
Put away spread sheets and silence the
computer. When listening, forget about
clipping your nails, crocheting, solving
crossword puzzles, or snapping your
chewing gum. Instead, provide a pri-
vate, quiet, comfortable setting where
you sit side by side with others with-
out distractions. If that’s not possible,
perhaps suggest a later meeting in a
more neutral, quieter environment.
Be alert to body language. What you
do with your eyes, face, hands, arms,
legs, and posture sends out signals as
to whether you are listening to and
understanding what the other person
is saying. When you acknowledge the
other person both verbally and nonver-
bally, you build trust and increase rap-
port. And you’ll learn something, too!
Abstain from judging. If you pre-
judge someone as shallow, crazy, or ill-
informed, you cease paying attention
to what they say. So judge only after
you’ve heard and evaluated what they
say. Don’t jump to conclusions based
on how they look, what you’ve heard
about them, or whether they’re nervous.
feelings. “The right word may be effec-
tive,” Mark Twain said, “but no word was
ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.”
Don’t dawdle at the finish line. The
end is as important as the beginning.
This is your chance to sum up your
best thoughts, words, and images and
imprint them indelibly on the audience.
Don’t blow it by running beyond your
time limit, or fumbling a final message.
Know what you want to say, say it, and end.
PPrroojjeecctt aa PPoossiittiivvee IImmaaggee
You make a statement about your-
self before you open your mouth. Your
image or silent message includes every-
thing from your posture to your posi-
tivity. It’s the way you carry yourself—
physically, emotionally, and intellectu-
ally. Such quiet signals affect people’s
perception, impression, or image of you.
Image, especially when backed up by
strong performance, is a powerful force.
And a negative first impression—saying
the wrong thing, wearing the wrong clothes,
coming across as uncaring or inept—creates
roadblocks that cut off relationships.
To create a favorable first impression
(and have people put a positive spin on
everything you say or do and admire
you even before they know much about
you), try these five ideas:
1. A winning image starts with a good
self-image. Get some photos or tapes
of yourself when you feel you’re look-
ing your best and study them. What do
you see that you like, or don’t like? Ask
friends for their opinions. Promise you
won’t take offense–and don’t!
2. Avoid annoying or distracting
habits or mannerisms. Such habits as
tugging at clothing, drumming fingers
on a table, tapping pencils, clicking
pens, doodling, jangling keys or change,
biting nails, cleaning teeth make it more
difficult for the other person to hear
you, and detract from your image.
3. Seek winners, spurn losers. Choose
friends who want you to succeed and
who encourage you. Reduce your
exposure to the negative, whether it’s
gossip from co-workers, violence in
the media, or pessimism in self-talk.
4. Treat everyone as if he or she is
the most important person you’ll meet
that day. Replace arrogance with empa-
thy. Every once in a while, you’ll learn
a big lesson from that “little” person.
5. Make fitness a lifestyle, not a chore.
Walk up and down the stairs to your
high-rise office or apartment. Ride a
bike to the store. Take a nature hike. LE
Tony Alessandra is a founding partner in The Cyrano
Group and author of The NEW Art of Managing People.
ACTION: Develop the look of leadership.
by Tony Alessandra
L e a d e r s h i p E x c e l l e n c e O c t o b e r 2 0 1 0 1 3
L i s t e n , s p e a k , a n d p r o j e c t i m a g e .
organizational dynamics: Observers can
easily view the entire system at once;
communication among players is
transparent and instantaneous; and the
connection between behavior and
results happens immediately.
FFrroomm MMiiccrroommaannaaggiinngg ttoo LLeeaaddiinngg
When asked to play without a leader,
the orchestra plays accurately, but the
music lacks emotion and pace. When I
micromanage the performance, the
group sounds stilted and flat. When an
inexperienced conductor stands in, the
performance is tentative and uneven.
But when the maestro con-
fidently conducts, musi-
cians respond with a lush
and expansive rendition.
So, what purpose does a
conductor or CEO serve?
The leader’s first job is to
provide others with a sense
of the big picture. The con-
ductor can see and hear the
whole, gather information
from the music, and convey
that information to the group. At the
end, I invite participants to stand
behind me as I conduct, to better
understand the unique perspective of
the entire system that the leader holds.
A skilled conductor infuses the notes
of a musical score with meaning, inspir-
ing the orchestra to perform with rich-
ness, depth, and emotion. Visionary
leaders can make a qualitative difference in
a team’s functioning. A conductor must
provide guidance in advance of the
orchestra’s playing a note; leaders
commit themselves to things that have
not yet happened. If leaders make a
commitment—and engage others in
creating a vision—when the time comes
for people to act, they know what they
need to do to bring the vision to life.
Conductors don’t make music directly
—the people they lead do. Leaders can’t
precisely control operations, but the
people who work for them can. An
effective conductor enables people to exe-
cute their jobs well: revealing things
about the music to the players, show-
ing them what’s important, and lifting
them out of their silos to gain a sense
of the whole. Under a controlling
leader, musicians may be more togeth-
er in terms of timing, but they give
HOW OFTEN HAVE YOU
wished as a leader
that you and your peo-
ple could break free of the business-as-
usual mentality—the enemy of inno-
vative thinking, fresh initiative, high
aspiration, and exceptional performance?
And yet leaders often capitulate to the
seductive allure of “good enough.”
How do you enlighten people about
the crucial difference leadership can make in
a way that inspires impressive results?
I do this in the Music Paradigm, using
a symphony orchestra as a metaphor
for an organization dealing with chal-
lenge or change. Executives sit among
musicians as I lead them through craft-
ed exercises that illustrate qualities,
reactions, and practices of top teams.
I may ask the orchestra to play
without a conductor. They intensify
their communication, and manage to
play quite well. Then I ask them to
make a different interpretation, and
they can do that too. I often select a
participant to stand on the podium
and hold the baton in her hand. She
feels the way I move it and listens to
the orchestra’s response. Then we dis-
cuss what it means. The experience
serves as a tangible reminder of the
beauty and promise in effective team-
work and inspirational leadership.
This exercise shows the courage re-
quired of conductors and leaders: the
willingness to be the first to commit to
a purpose that exists only as an idea.
Most of the people that you need to
execute a plan won’t at first under-
stand your vision. But they feel the force
of your commitment. When they see you
living in your imagined future, they’ll
put themselves at risk for it. But, if you
retreat from your purpose and align
yourself with the present state, you’ll
lose energy, ambition and meaning.
The Music Paradigm provides a cre-
ative framework for rethinking leader-
ship styles. You gain unique insights
about the contribution that each play-
er makes to the whole, the importance
of effective teamwork, and the impact
of different leadership styles on per-
formance. A symphonic performance
serves as an ideal lab for studying
less emotionally and feel less able to
make their unique contributions.
As the musicians illustrate both dys-
functional and functional behaviors,
the dysfunction leads you to look with-
in yourself and your organization. The
music starts to sound like what is hap-
pening in your office, and you begin to
question your leadership. And, the
function that is created by the music
leaves you with a picture of what your
organization could achieve. When you
see the music that is created through great
leadership and teamwork, you start to have
more productive meetings, increased cre-
ativity, openness, inspiration and energy,
and individuals become eager to consider
ways to work more effectively.
As in an orchestra, the power of an
organization lies in the people doing
the work and how they interact with
each other. The role of a leader is to
create the best possible space for this to
happen: Don’t tell players
what to do; provide them
with a vision for the whole,
guidelines, and resources;
and give them permission
to get the job done. Recog-
nize that you, as the leader,
don’t have all the power.
But you do have the power
to create circumstances
where others can excel,
transcend what is possible,
and together achieve the goal.
Under the direction of a great mae-
stro, musicians work together in aston-
ishing synchronicity. Why? The maestro
conceives of the orchestra as a living,
intelligent system of interlocking aware-
ness. So he changes the orchestra’s
playing by addressing the connections
between the players, rather than isolating
the parts. The maestro’s direction helps
musicians to identify with their collec-
tive sound. They feel more like an intelli-
gent community that doesn’t need a con-
ductor to tell them who’s sharp or flat.
They can solve the problem themselves.
This is why the maestro’s rehearsals
generate such enthusiasm. People feel
that they are working together, empow-
ered to use their own judgment. This
opens the door to participation with
the rest of their artistry—shaping their
own phrases and drawing from the full
range of their instruments’ sound palette.
The maestro offers musical vision and
guidelines that help musicians to align
their efforts into a coherent interpretation. LE
Roger Nierenberg is a Symphony Orchestra conductor,
creator of The Music Paradigm and author of Maestro.
Visit www.musicparadigm.com. Call 212-246-0525, visit
MaestroBook.com, or email: RNierenberg@MusicParadigm.com.
ACTION: Lead your team like a maestro.
by Roger Nierenberg
1 4 O c t o b e r 2 0 1 0 L e a d e r s h i p E x c e l l e n c e
G o b e y o n d b u s i n e s s a s u s u a l .
it was all housed in a sleek, clean, sun-
lit space that had been meticulously
designed down to the last detail, to
give our students the same sense of
self-worth and possibility that Frank
Ross’s classroom had nurtured in me.
A person’s environment shapes who
they are and how they see the world.
Decay fills us with despair while beau-
ty inspires us to hope and to dream
beyond our circumstances. MBC is a
model for education, culture and hope.
Our Youth & Arts program serves
about 3,900 youth a year through class-
es and workshops in ceramics, photog-
raphy, digital imaging, and design art.
MCG Arts enables students to work
intensively with visiting artists of great
stature through exhibitions, lectures,
workshops, residencies, and visits.
Our Jazz program is dedicated to
preserving, promoting and presenting
jazz music by bringing audiences
together with jazz artists at a 350-seat
music hall in Pittsburgh for innovative
performances and recordings. After 20
years, MCG Jazz has become an anchor
of Pittsburgh’s cultural life. For me, jazz
is one of the most powerful metaphors for
living an extraordinary life. Jazz is a state
of mind in which possibilities for innova-
tion and discovery are revealed to you, and
you can tap into deep reserves of com-
mitment and passion. Many jazz artists
have influenced my thinking; and their
music has helped me live an authentic life.
MBC is a business model that works.
In fact, it works so well that I’m repli-
cating the MB enterprise throughout
the country. Our future rests in our ability
to form visions and partnerships. As leaders,
we’ve got to change the way people see
themselves and their futures.
Entrepreneurs are visionaries. The use
of art to change students’ attitudes is at
the heart of my vision. I see connection
IN MY MEMOIR, MAKE
the Impossible Possible,
I describe the images
of my earliest memories. I grew up in
Manchester, an inner-city neighborhood
of Pittsburgh. What I saw as I walked
to school each day was an unbroken
landscape of decay that taught me indel-
ible lessons about hopelessness and
defeat no matter where my gaze fell.
Home was different. There my moth-
er enlisted her children’s help in keep-
ing their simple abode neat and clean.
And in high school, a teacher, Frank
Ross, introduced me to the art of mak-
ing pottery. It changed my life. Frank
was a skilled artisan on the potter’s
wheel. The relationship that we creat-
ed around a revolving mound of clay
gave form to the future vision of
Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild (MCG).
The decline of the steel industry
created widespread unemployment,
and I decided to address the problem
by offering vocational training to dis-
placed and underemployed workers.
The Guild began as an after-school arts
program in a donated North Side row-
house that I secured while a student at
the University of Pittsburgh.
My vision for the center was met
with skepticism and doubt in board-
rooms where I tried to raise funds. But
as word spread through the communi-
ty, an influential patron saw the poten-
tial in my vision and motivated others
to support it. With the support, I
founded the MCG when I was 19.
Due to my track record, I was asked
in 1971 to assume leadership of MB
and guide its transition to providing
skills relevant to Pittsburgh’s emerging
market economy. This doubled the
strength of MB’s ability to help the
community. I envisioned a template
for social change, and formed relation-
ships with people who shared my vision.
Today MBC is a gleaming, expan-
sive community arts and jobs training
center in Pittsburgh. This place was
built to offer our students the same
rich experiences that had turned my
life around. There is clay. There is art
and photography. After a while, there
were flowers and gourmet food. And
between the creativity instilled by a love of
the arts, and skills needed in business.
Artists are by nature entrepreneurs. They
visualize something that doesn’t exist—
they look at a canvas and see a painting.
When I saw Frank Lloyd Wright’s
Falling Water for the first time through
the growth of rhododendrons, I was
amazed. Here I was, a 16-year-old kid
from inner-city Pittsburgh, looking at
this house with a creek running through
the middle of it. I thought, If I can bring
that light into my neighborhood—bring it
to people who deserve it and respond to it
as wholeheartedly and creatively as any-
body—then I am home free. I’m talking
about respect, about common sense
and decency, about the dictate that our
best hopes must always be acted upon,
that all people everywhere possess an
innate hunger for, and right to, what is
sustaining, good, and beautiful.
Success is the point where your most
authentic talents, passion, values, and
experiences intersect with the chance to
contribute to some greater good. A suc-
cessful life or career is not something
you simply pursue—it is something
that you create, moment by moment.
Over 30 years, I’ve been transform-
ing the lives of people, striving to give
disadvantaged kids and adults the
time and tools they need to envision
and build a better, brighter future.
Every one of us has the potential for
remarkable achievement. Every one of
us can accomplish the impossible in our
lives if given the right inspiration and
motivation. We all make ourselves poor
in one way or another when we accept
that we are not smart enough, experi-
enced enough, or talented enough to
accomplish something. I work with the
least advantaged among us, and if I
can help them achieve the impossible in
their lives, think what each of us can do!
People are born into this world as
assets, not liabilities. A person’s out-
come is often determined by the way
we treat him (and ourselves). The sand
in the hourglass flows only one way.
Stop going through the motions of living
—savor each day. Life is here and now,
not waiting for you in the future.
You don’t have to travel far to change
lives. I grew up in a ghetto, four blocks
from where I built our training center.
You only need to change your thinking
to remake your world. All of us can
build on our passions and strengths,
dream bigger, set the bar higher,
achieve meaningful success, and help
mentor and inspire the lives of others.LE
Bill Strickland is CEO of Manchester Bidwell and author of Make
the Impossible Possible (Broadway). Visit Bill-Strickland.org.
ACTION: Have a leadership vision and voice.
by Bill Strickland
L e a d e r s h i p E x c e l l e n c e O c t o b e r 2 0 1 0 1 5
Envision a better, brighter future.
Since turning over the CEO reins to
successor Dan Akerson, Whitacre has
received undeserved criticism for step-
ping down. But this was his intention.
He noted, “It was my plan—to help
return this company to greatness—and
not stay a day beyond that.” He’s a man
of his word, and he delivered on every
promise and commitment he made.
EExxaammppllee 22:: WWiinn WWaalllliinn
Another role model is Winston Wallin.
Now in his mid-80s, Win is former CEO
of Medtronic and my ex-boss. He had
three distinguished careers—at Pillsbury,
Medtronic, and the University of Minn-
esota. As a board member, Win made
major contributions to the success of
Cargill and Norwest Bank (now Wells
Fargo). But his greatest legacy may be
the Wallin Education Scholars, a pro-
gram that enables thousands of high
school students to attend colleges.
After graduating from UM, Win join-
ed Pillsbury, where he spent 37 years,
rising to president/COO. The Pillsbury
board made a grievous error in not choos-
ing him to succeed Bill Spoor as CEO.
Pillsbury’s loss was Medtronic’s gain.
Win accepted the board’s request to be
CEO in 1985. Medtronic was flounder-
ing, and Win soon recognized Medtronic’s
future was at risk: Medtronic was block-
ed from entering the nascent implantable
defibrillator market by a pioneering
patent held by archrival Eli Lilly.
Win’s first act was to ask Medtronic
pacemaker chief Bobby Griffin to launch
a massive R&D effort to get Medtronic
into the defibrillator business. Win also
recognized that the company was too
reliant on pacemakers, in part due to
several failed attempts at diversification.
So he hired Dr. Glen Nelson as vice
chairman in 1986; together they began
to diversify Medtronic’s business.
When I joined Medtronic as president
in 1989, it was the best move of my
IT IS FASHIONABLE THESE
days to vilify leaders,
from BP’s Tony Hayward
to Wall Street bankers. When a prob-
lem arises, we look for the villain who
caused it. Then we search for the perfect
leader to guide us—only to find they
have feet of clay.
Instead we need authentic leaders—
people who own their mistakes,
acknowledge their faults, and always
put the interests of their organizations
ahead of self-interests. Young leaders
need role models whose actions pro-
vide guidance for their leadership.
EExxaammppllee 11:: GGMM’’ss EEdd WWhhiittaaccrree
Only a year ago, General Motors
emerged from bankruptcy. What a dif-
ference a year has made! GM is now
solidly profitable, growing its revenues
once again, retooling its lineup of auto-
mobiles, and enabling the U.S. govern-
ment to recoup its bailout investment.
GM’s fall into bankruptcy was more
like a steady decline over 50 years.
When the end came in early 2009,
President Obama had the courage to
finance the company to bring it out of
bankruptcy. And, he appointed a highly
successful board chair in Ed Whitacre,
who became CEO four months later.
Whitacre was a successful telecommu-
nications executive, chair and CEO of
SBC who saved ATT from its demise.
Ed Whitacre’s remarkable leadership
rapidly turned around GM. His one-year
tenure marked a dramatic shift in the
old way of doing business, as the days
of redundant bureaucracy and disjoint-
ed innovation quickly ceased. Whitacre
abandoned GM’s moribund committee
system that protected executives from
being accountable for results, and made
clear, decisive decisions while challeng-
ing people to move much faster.
Whitacre even appeared in GM ads,
heralding the new GM and challenging
customers to give GM cars a try while
offering them their money back if they
weren’t satisfied. He got a break when
Toyota ran into quality problems, but
he moved quickly to take advantage of
it by ramping up production rates and
sales and marketing efforts.
career. My first week on the job, Win
told me, “Bill, don’t worry about the
numbers for six months. Get out and
learn the business from the top doc-
tors.” That sent me on a quest to work
with some of the world’s finest physi-
cians by watching them implant every-
thing from pacemakers to defibrillators.
Win retired from Medtronic in 1991,
but he certainly didn’t retire from life.
In addition to chairing Medtronic’s
board, he joined five corporate boards
where he provided invaluable advice.
He also answered UM President Nils
Hasselmo’s request to help turn around
its struggling health sciences area.
In the 1990s, Win and his wife, Max-
ine, formed the Wallin Foundation, set-
ting aside a major proportion of their
gains from Medtronic stock. More than
3,000 students have benefitted from
$26 million in scholarships.
Aspiring young leaders would do
well to look to Win Wallin for a model
of authentic leader and sustainable success.
Today’s leaders need to be asking
questions: How do we do business?
What happens when you get asked for
favors? You need to trust but you also
need a verification and compliance system.
When there are any deviations, it
should be a zero-tolerance policy, with
no second chance. If you make mistakes,
you should get a second chance. But
on questions of company values, there
is no second chance. Everybody needs
to know that. We need to vet, not just
criticize, people who violate ethical
standards. We also need to uphold
leaders who seek to make a difference.
To get through a crisis, leaders need
an outside team. It starts with having
one person with whom you can be entirely
open. That person for me is my wife,
Penny. If I get too high on myself, she
pulls me back down; and if I get down,
she gives me a practical view of things.
I also meet with a men’s group weekly
to talk about issues and challenges.
And when I have tough questions, I
have mentors like Warren Bennis and
David Gergen who I can call up.
It’s easy to fall into group-think. You
tend to talk about the same issues, and
tend to think about them the same
way. It’s vital to have outside exposure,
an external team that brings perspective.
Leading with ethics and values is
the best way to build an organization
and the right way to sustain success.LE
William W. George is a professor of management at Harvard
Business School, former CEO of Medtronic, and author of 7
Lessons for Leading in a Crisis. Visit www.billgeorge.org.
ACTION: Model authentic leadership.
by Bill George
1 6 O c t o b e r 2 0 1 0 L e a d e r s h i p E x c e l l e n c e
W h a t a d i f f e r e n c e t h e y m a k e !
Coaching for compliance. When we
try to help someone, we’re often seduc-
ed into focusing on things that need to
be fixed, like a person’s weaknesses. In
the process, we invoke the NEA and
the body’s stress reaction. Those being
coached often feel on the defensive,
feeling a need to justify or prove them-
selves or pushed toward the coach’s
image of how they should behave. In
this way, we often slip into coaching for
compliance. Instead of invoking the per-
son’s Ideal Self, we invoke the person’s
Ought Self. They stimulate the image of
the person they ought to become. When
this Ought Self is imposed and is incon-
sistent with a person’s Ideal Self, it
causes the person to close down his or
her mind and willingness to change.
Coaches often utilize feedback data,
analyze the weaknesses or gaps in the
data, and try to get the person to iden-
tify what they can do to change—thus
unintentionally arousing the NEA and
diminishing the person’s ability to
make sustainable change.
Life seems more exciting when we
consider the possibilities and pursue
them. We are actually healthier, more
open, more capable of learning, and
better able to function at a higher
plane. Coaching with compassion arous-
es this in the coach and in the person
being coached. It is coaching for
results and sustained desired change.
empathy and emotional self-
awareness—predict the effect-
iveness of executive coaches.
requires listening to and
their issues, problems, and
situations at work and
home. If a person is seen
merely as a problem bearing
platform, the coach will
focus on the problems, not the person
—and miss factors that sustain current
behavior. The coach must be sensitive
to changes in the person and tailor
suggestions to the person’s needs.
Emotional self-awareness. A coach
can’t focus on a person if the coach is
preoccupied with his or her own chal-
lenges. Awareness of transference, counter-
transference, and projection must be a
part of executive coaching. Coaches
must separate their own feelings and
values from those of the client. This is
difficult without high self-monitoring
or Emotional Self-Awareness.
Adults learn what they want to learn.
Other things, even if acquired tempor-
How People Change
IN THESE UNCERTAIN AND
fearful times, many
people are avoiding
looking to their future and just trying
to get by in the present, or tolerating
their situation. It is a dysfunctional
response to having a dream.
Sadly, as managers doing perfor-
mance reviews or trying to motivate a
person to improve, we also often com-
mit the act of visionocide. We kill peo-
ple’s dreams and inhibit their progress
toward a better future. The source of
the misdirected effort lay in misunder-
standing how people change.
PPoossiittiivvee aanndd NNeeggaattiivvee AAttttrraaccttoorrss
In pursuit of change, adaptation, or
in response to threat, we move toward
a Positive Emotional Attractor (PEA) or
a Negative Emotional Attractor (NEA).
Arousal of the NEA pulls us into a
stress-aroused state by arousing the
Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS).
This results in decreased cognitive
functioning, perceptual openness, and
immune system function-
ing, and greater suscepti-
bility to illnesses—you
tend to feel nervous, anx-
ious, and worried.
In contrast, arousal of
the PEA helps us function
at our best. Arousing hope
for the future stimulates
Nervous System (PNS)—
the state in which the
mind and body are at their best, creat-
ing new neural tissue that allows for
learning, engages the immune system,
and enables us to be open to ideas,
feelings, and people.
Coaching with compassion involves
arousing the PEA by eliciting dreams
about the future, about possibilities,
arousing hope, and helping people to
articulate their personal vision. When
you coach someone to their PEA, you
arouse enhanced cognitive and emo-
tional functioning. The emotional
renewal enables people to consider
possibilities of change—be more open
to the coach and other people—and
break through to a new insights about
their dreams and future possibilities.
But this does not always happen.
arily, are soon forgotten. They may act as
if they care about learning something,
go through the motions, but then disre-
gard it or forget it—unless it is something
that they want to learn. Even when peo-
ple are under threat or coercion, their
behavior will typically revert to its original
form once the threat is removed.
Most sustainable behavioral change
is intentional (affected by your will,
values, and motivations). Self-directed
change is an intentional change in an aspect
of who you are (Real Self) or who you
want to be (Ideal Self), or both. Self-direct-
ed learning is self-directed change in which
you are aware of the change and the
process. The process, however, is rarely
linear. Your behavior may be stuck for
long periods of time and then change
suddenly. This is a discontinuity. Self-
directed learning often begins when
you experience a discontinuity, the
associated epiphany, or a moment of
awareness and a sense of urgency.
I see eight major learning points:
1. Engage your passion and create
your dreams. Describe the person you
want to be (your Ideal Self) and the life
and work you want in the future.
2. Know thyself—your Real Self.
3. Identify your strengths (aspects of
yourself you want to preserve) and your
gaps or discrepancies (aspects of your-
self you want to adapt or change).
4. Keep your attention on both char-
acteristics, forces or factors! Attend to
both strengths and gaps—not letting
one become the preoccupation.
5. Create a personal learning agenda!
Others may tell you how to change or
impose goals on you, but this won’t
help you change. Fit elements of your
learning agenda into the structure of
your life, work, and learning style.
6. Experiment and practice new habits
and actions and learn from your experi-
ences! Learn more from experiences.
7. Find settings in which you feel
safe to experiment and practice!
8. Develop and use your relation-
ships as part of your change and learn-
ing. Have coaches, mentors, friends,
and others with whom you can discuss
progress on your learning agenda.
Your future may not be entirely with-
in your control, but most of what you
become is within your power to create.
As Goethe says: “What you can do, or
dream you can, begin it, Boldness has
genius, power and magic in it!” LE
Richard E. Boyatzis is Professor of OB at Case Western Reserve
University and HR at ESADE. He is author of The Competent
Manager; Primal Leadership with Daniel Goleman and Annie
McKee; Resonant Leadership, with Annie McKee; and Becom-
ing a Resonant Leader with Annie McKee and Fran Johnston.
ACTION: Coach people to make progress.
by Richard E. Boyatzis
L e a d e r s h i p E x c e l l e n c e O c t o b e r 2 0 1 0 1 7
Create positive attractors.
conduct a negotiations audit. A systemat-
ic evaluation and assessment based on
confidential interviewing can do three
things: 1) analyze where current deal
preparation and decision-making prac-
tices are falling short, and why; 2) how
training must be tailored to address those
specific problems; 3) what leaders must
do alongside training to ensure that new
skills and learning will be deployed.
More leaders are recognizing that
efforts to improve require key sponsor-
ship; mechanisms for knowledge cap-
ture and continuous
learning; and realignment of
processes and incentives
where needed. The results
of thinking more holistically
are not trivial. In 2008—a
year when the net income of
the Global 2000 fell by 31
in the top quartile of negoti-
ation posted an average
increase in net income of 42.5 percent!
2. Specify the criteria that define a
successful negotiation. It is not enough
to articulate company values. Too often
people assume that negotiations fall into
some nether world where values-based
behavior does not apply. In worst cases,
trumpeting values like trust and collab-
oration create cynicism in business part-
ners when negotiation behavior
(driven by short term goals) is more
dictatorial than collaborative. Creating
a list of criteria, and scorecard for mea-
suring against them, ensures that in
negotiations, people will balance short-
term financial targets with other longer
term interests (risk, deal stability, trust,
reputation, time spent negotiating).
3. Embrace negotiation as a core
capability. Many leaders remain ner-
vous about helping their people to
negotiate better. Leaders in one Fortune
200 company readily admitted that
conflicts were routine, and that resolv-
ing them was critical to success. “Just
don’t use the word negotiate,” they
pleaded. “We’re very collaborative.”
(Their counterparts told me a different
story.) In spite of books like Getting to
Yes—which argues that negotiations
can take the form of joint problem-
solving—the word negotiation still sug-
gests to some deception, exaggeration,
manipulation, and even threats. No
AS WARREN BENNIS
argues, nothing is
more important to good
leadership than making good decisions.
I help leaders negotiate better
agreements. This involves treating
negotiation as an organizational capabil-
ity, so that decisions about negotia-
tions are not left largely to the last
minute, or to individual intuitions.
In my role, I’m struck by the effort
that leaders put into negotiation skills
training, without focusing on other
(often less costly) moves that would
enable their people to negotiate better.
Even experienced negotiators are
prone to powerful tendencies that hinder
their ability to negotiate better deals.
Much research suggests that negotiators:
fail to prepare adequately by thinking
through how the other party sees the
problem and their alternatives; fail to
create as much value as they could;
believe they have claimed most of the
available value (when they haven’t);
believe that others will choose and
interpret data in the same way they
will; and fail to recognize ways in
which the situation powerfully shapes
their behaviors and thought processes.
But these shortcomings affect other
judgments and intuitions as well.
For example, people have undue con-
fidence in their ethical invulnerability. In
one study of medical residents, only 1
percent felt that sales reps from drug
companies had impacted their pre-
scription choices, but reported that 33
percent of their colleagues had been
influenced. Among physicians, 61 per-
cent claimed they had not been influ-
enced—but only 16 percent felt that
their colleagues had been similarly
immune. We all imagine our best
intentions will guide our decisions,
but the evidence suggests otherwise.
DDoo FFiivvee TThhiinnggss
Leaders must do five things to enable
better decision-making in negotiations:
1. Recognize that negotiation is not
just an individual skill, but an organi-
zational capability. When I am asked
by leaders to design training programs
in negotiation, I first suggest that they
wonder leaders remain wary. But lead-
ers should not let the word negotiation
deter them from focusing helping their
people get better at reaching agreements.
4. Create opportunities—through
coaching, training, and leadership
development experiences—for your peo-
ple to confront their own emotional
barriers to conflict. Most executives can
tell stories about key team members
avoiding conflict because they don’t
want to be seen as obstacles to success.
But conflict that goes underground can
create much bigger problems later.
Leaders should seek to normalize con-
flict on their teams among people who
are paid to care about different things.
Even normalizing conflict does not
guarantee that people will have the
emotional intelligence or courage to
confront different interests, perceptions,
beliefs, or priorities. It’s
easy after the fact to con-
demn others for failing to
have acted courageously by
“speaking up” or raising
issues that might “cause
problems.” It’s harder to be
the person in the room,
actually facing the situa-
tion. Effective leaders rec-
ognize how hard it is for
people to voice disagreement.
5. Recognize that negotiations are a
potent source of feedback regarding
strategy. Leaders often tell me, “We
perform a high-value service, but in
negotiation we’re treated like a com-
modity.” When pushed, however, they
can’t explain how their services are dif-
ferent or better that what their competi-
tors can provide. They can’t point to
examples of boosting their client’s top
or bottom lines in ways that justify a
higher price. If you can’t articulate con-
vincing arguments about the value you
add, you can expect to be treated as a
commodity at the negotiating table
(and the rise of Procurement reflects
this reality). Yet this is principally a
strategy problem, not a negotiation
problem. Leaders who use negotiations
as feedback are more likely to address
the fundamental problems that lie at
the heart of the negotiation, rather than
sending their people to negotiate with
the hope that there is some “magical
tactic” that will rescue a favorable deal.
Leaders who manage negotiations
well are process designers, coaches,
and role models. By moving in these
five ways, you can expect dramatically
better results in your organization. LE
Hal Movius is co-author of Built to Win: Creating AWorld-
Class Negotiating Organization. Visit www.cbuilding.org.
ACTION: Negotiate to reach better agreements.
by Hal Movius
1 8 O c t o b e r 2 0 1 0 L e a d e r s h i p E x c e l l e n c e
H e l p y o u r p e o p l e r e a c h t h e m .
through the coastal communities.
BP also got good marks by using
social media, tweeting its efforts and
enlisting hundreds of volunteers.
Lesson 4: The media will pull out
sound bites. Be prepared. BP CEO Tony
Hayward was trying to position the
company as fulfilling its responsibili-
ties, but saying “It wasn’t our accident,
but we are absolutely responsible for clean-
ing it up,” seemed to muddy the mes-
sage. Predictably, the line, “It wasn’t our
accident,” was repeated over and over.
Similarly, the line that the company
“would pay all legitimate claims,” was
interpreted that they would fight for a
narrow definition of claims. This line
was repeated over and over by compa-
ny executives, clearly indicating it was
purposeful. BP did post a statement on
its website saying it will
“pay all necessary and appro-
priate clean-up costs” as well
as “legitimate and objectively
verifiable” claims for proper-
ty damage, personal injury
and commercial losses.
While it’s early in the inci-
dent, this claim will be cred-
ible when they can start
posting examples where
they have processed and
approved a claim.
Lesson 5: Get validating third parties
on board before a crisis. Messages about
who was responsible or what failed (Trans-
ocean’s blow out preventer) should
have been discussed by experts, even if
BP retained them. BP’s statements that
they weren’t at fault made it look as if
they were trying to avoid responsibili-
ty. Predictably, Transocean and Halli-
burton produced their own facts about
who ordered whom to do what, trying
to shift blame back on to BP. The public
doesn’t speak the same language and
can’t sort out who’s credible.
Lesson 6: Ask yourselves what will
the media, regulators, and others find—
and what they will think of it—if a dis-
aster or problem occurs. Media combed
BP’s readiness reports and plans for
spills, finding them pro forma. It looked
like BP had patched together copy from
other plans. For the Gulf of Mexico, one
paragraph pulled from a 500+ page
plan for spill mitigation noted that oil
could “harm seals, sea otters, and wal-
ruses” (there are no seals, sea otters or
walruses in the Gulf). Assigning a team
to “play reporter” before any real crisis
would have helped BP understand its
exposure to criticism and risk.
Lesson 7: Get the most advanced
available. BP executives, while clearly
BP’s Oil Spill
WE ALL WATCHED
the oil spill crisis
in the Gulf, specifically
BP’s response to the crisis, with great
interest. I hope that it caused you to
reevaluate how you think about crisis
communication. In the past, you may
have been prepared to give a response
by the “end of the day.” Now, you
may not have more than five minutes
to formulate your initial response.
Here are eight lessons for leaders:
Lesson 1: It’s not enough to practice
operational scenarios—practice com-
munication scenarios. The division of
ownership between BP, Transocean
and Halliburton meant there was no
clear definition of who was to speak
on what subject and when. The result
was finger pointing and bickering—
making all three parties look bad. By
contrast, Turner Construction, the
world’s largest construction company
and a division of a German-based com-
pany, employs many subcontractors.
Since Turner’s name is on the sites,
Turner always controls the communi-
cation and takes the position that what
happens is their responsibility.
Lesson 2: Set expectations at the start
that things will change. BP initially es-
timated 1,000 barrels of oil was leaking
daily. Eight days later, they announced
it was more like 5,000 barrels a day. By
May 5, BP said it could be as much as
60,000 barrels a day. That led to criti-
cism that they had lowballed the esti-
mate on purpose. Here is an example
of language they could have used dur-
ing the first day when they were in fact
finding mode: “As we gather information,
we will provide it in a timely and appropri-
ate manner. We ask you to remember that
new information may change our assess-
ment of the situation and our plans. Facts,
figures and even conclusions will change
and evolve as we get new information. This
is part of handling a situation like this.” By
using such language upfront, you can
refer back to it when new facts emerge.
Lesson 3: Start talking with people on
the ground and have a physical presence
in the community. BP got it right to wait
one month before communicating via
the usual corporate full-page ads. Instead,
employees and managers spread out
making a great effort to be accessible
and forthcoming, made a number of
mistakes. First, they repeated lines like
“all legitimate claims,” and then they
said stupid things—which were bound
to be amplified. “This spill is tiny when
compared to the size of the ocean and vol-
ume of water in the Gulf.” “The oil in the
Gulf is the consistency of tea.” “The over-
all environmental impact of this spill will
be very modest.” Executives also did not
know how to acknowledge questions,
and in a memorable exchange with U.S.
members of Congress, appeared to
repeatedly duck questions about what
they would consider “legitimate” claims
that the company would pay for.” So a
question would be asked, “Will you pay
for lost income?” and the BP executive
would repeat the line, “We will pay for
all legitimate claims.” These
framing questions are com-
mon, and the respondent
does not need to be limited
to “yes” or “no” but must
pick a substitute phrase
such as “I don’t know,”
“It’s too early to tell,” “I
hope so,” “I can’t predict.”
Lesson 8: Have “compet-
itive video” ready to go.
The images of oil slicks on
top of the ocean, deep water plumes of
dark matter, oil-soaked birds, beached
fishing boats, and other similar images
dominated the news. Competitive video
should have been ready to counter
these predictable images. Caution: the
video needs to be authentic, not “PR.”
Useful examples are videos of training
exercises which back up a company’s
commitment to safety procedures and
show a company’s concern for antici-
pating problems and preparing for them.
Think about the anticipated crises—
what images they will generate and
what pictures will counter them. Years
ago, PepsiCo was hit by claims that
consumers found syringes in cans of
Pepsi. PepsiCo didn’t argue that this
was extortion or sabotage—which they
were certain it was. Within hours, they
released video of their high-speed can-
ning lines, showing that it would be
impossible to insert anything. The
video also showed inspectors standing
over the lines. The footage received
wide exposure and was very convincing.
Rethink and revamp your approach
to crisis communication. Review these
lessons from the BP crisis and stay dili-
gent in your crisis preparation. LE
Merrie Spaeth is Founder and CEO of Spaeth Communi-
cations. This article is adapted from her speech for the
Montreal Chapter of IABC. Visit www.spaethcom.com.
ACTION: Learn and apply these eight lessons.
by Merrie Spaeth
L e a d e r s h i p E x c e l l e n c e O c t o b e r 2 0 1 0 1 9
Eight lessons for leaders.
the ideas we recommend to them—is
to be vulnerable with them.
Vulnerability is about honesty and
authenticity. Only by facing and over-
coming those fears, and getting com-
fortable being naked, can we earn the
trust that creates loyalty with clients.
Naked service providers confront
clients (kindly) with difficult informa-
tion and perspectives, even if the client
might not like hearing it. Naked con-
sultants ask potentially dumb questions,
and make potentially dumb suggestions,
because if those questions or sugges-
tions ultimately help their client, it is
worth the potential embarrassment.
They also admit their weaknesses and
celebrate their mistakes. Even before
landing a client, a naked consultant
will demonstrate vulnerability and
take risks. They’ll give away their best
ideas and start consulting with prospects
during a sales call. In fact, they’ll forego
selling to find a way to help a client,
even if they never actually become one.
Service providers that practice the
naked approach will find it easier to
retain clients through greater trust and
loyalty. It also allows firms to be more
open, generous and less desperate in
the sales process—the differentiator
from more traditional sales approaches.
NNaakkeedd AApppprrooaacchh ttoo IInnnnoovvaattiioonn
Many leaders in search of innova-
tion generate as much cynicism as they
do new thinking. They exhort people to
be more innovative, providing classes
and workshops designed to teach
everyone how to think outside the box.
They also include innovation on a list
of core values, emblazoning the word
on annual reports and hallway posters,
hoping that this will inspire people to
come up with new ideas for revolution-
izing strategic and financial prospects.
Even well-intentioned and dedicat-
ed employees are bound to respond
cynically to these efforts, frustrated by
what they see as hypocrisy. They just
don’t perceive a genuine eagerness
among leaders to embrace the new
ideas of rank-and-file employees (and
they are mostly accurate in that percep-
tion). For all the talk about innovation,
WHEN I GRADUATED
from college and
became a consultant, I
was taught how to answer questions
without giving away my age or inex-
perience. This is part of the “never let
them see you sweat” mentality.
I was taught how to research and
present ideas to clients as if I had all
the answers, to demonstrate authority
and portray myself as smart—even
slightly superior to clients. Many of
my colleagues, including me, hated
our jobs. And to be fair, it didn’t feel
like our clients liked us much either.
But that was the world of consulting,
and unfortunately, in many places, this
approach to client service still exists.
When I left that job and joined a real
company, I became a client myself, bring-
ing in consultants to do work for us.
There I developed an approach to con-
sulting that we’ve used in my firm for
12 years. We call it naked consulting,
and it has yielded more client loyalty
then we could have ever imagined.
TThhee NNaakkeedd AApppprrooaacchh
Naked service boils down to the abil-
ity to be vulnerable, humble, selfless,
and transparent for the good of a client.
Most of us live our lives trying to avoid
awkward and painful situations, which
is why it is no surprise that we are all
susceptible to the three fears that sabo-
tage client loyalty:
• Fear of losing the business. Worry-
ing about losing a client’s business may
cause us to avoid the very things that
ultimately engender trust and loyalty.
• Fear of being embarrassed. Rooted in
pride, this fear can lead service provid-
ers to withhold their best ideas.
• Fear of feeling inferior. To avoid
feeling irrelevant or being overlooked,
we try to achieve and preserve a high
level of importance in clients’ minds.
We find that clients are more inter-
ested in candor, modesty, and trans-
parency than they are in confidence,
authority, and perfection. Yes, clients
need to know that we have the knowl-
edge and experience to help them. But
once we reach that level, the best way
to differentiate ourselves from compe-
tition—and to help a client implement
most executives don’t like the prospect
of their people generating new ways to
do things, hoping instead that they’ll
simply do what they’re asked to do in
the most enthusiastic, professional way
possible. So it is no surprise when they
get pounded for preaching innovation
without really valuing it.
What should leaders do? They should
“get naked,” stop over-hyping innova-
tion and realize that only a few people in
the company really need to be innovative.
As heretical as that may seem to
those who believe that “innovation is
everyone’s business!”, consider that
even the most innovative organizations
need far more people to be dutiful,
enthusiastic, and consistent in their
work than innovative or creative.
What should leaders demand of their
people, if not innovation? How about a
combination of creativity and autonomy?
This suggests that we as managers and
leaders need our people to take com-
plete responsibility to do their jobs and
satisfy customers in the most effective
and charismatic way possible, within
the bounds of sound business princi-
ples. You may mean that when you use
the word innovation, but that is not
what your employees are hearing.
Creativity and autonomy thrive in
great companies. Southwest airlines,
Chick-fil-A, and Nordstrom excel in it.
Their employees are passionate and
committed and take responsibility for
turning customers into loyal fans. Sure,
they’re encouraged to share ideas about
new ways to work, but they are known
for being great at what has already been
defined as the product or service that their
company offers. Most leaders would take
that any day, even before innovation.
One group that must exercise the
capacity for innovation is the leader-
ship team. They are the keepers of inno-
vation, ultimately responsible for
determining the acceptable boundaries
of change, and identifying the few oth-
ers within their departments who have
the invitation and freedom to innovate.
So, before calling for your people to
innovate, be more specific about what
you really want from them. And if you
really believe that your organization
isn’t innovative enough, focus your
efforts first on the people at the top.
When you can be vulnerable with the
people you live and work with daily, you
build stronger relationships, show your
trust in them, and inspire them to improve
by being vulnerable themselves. That
is certainly worth getting naked for. LE
Pat Lencioni is CEO of The Table Group and best-selling author
of Get Naked and other books. Visit www.TableGroup.com.
ACTION: Be naked in your approach to service.
by Patrick Lencioni
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