I want to spend some time talking about the August 1 BONUS PROGRAM at the First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas. My topic is:
The bonus program runs from 8:30-9:30 a.m.
The fee is only $5 , and all proceeds will be donated to TAKE TIME TO READ, a literacy program sponsored by the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children
Participants are given the opportunity to donate funds for children’s books at an average of $15 each.
You must register for the First Friday Book Synopsis in order to attend the bonus program. To do that, simply click here.
ABOUT THE PROGRAM: Giving a sincere apology is not the same as speaking in defense of yourself. They are different contexts, representing different challenges, and requiring different skills. Learn to do both in this bonus program. You will learn four strategies for speaking in defense of yourself, as modeled by famous Americans who did so. You will learn how to give a genuine apology and how to say it like you mean it. All participants will receive printed resources for both topics.
ABOUT THE CHARITY: Scottish Rite Masons across Texas are discovering the many rewards of reading to youngsters. As part of the Take Time To Read program, Texas Masons are teaming up with their local libraries and schools to read to children, collect books through book drives, and reap the rewards of glowing eyes, smiling faces and eager listeners. Reading experts agree that reading aloud to children may be one of the most important things that adults can do to prepare kids for success in school. Their vocabulary is enriched, they learn new information, and the experiences of their world are expanded, Being read to can create a love for books and generate a desire to read. As facilitator of this bonus program, I am a 30-year member of the Dallas Scottish Rite Bodies, and was honored in 2013 with the Knight Commander Court of Honor (32o KCCH), wearing the red hat in the picture above.
The picture to the right is from last year’s First Friday Book Synopsis bonus program where I posed with the Take Time to Read Director from the Scottish Rite Hospital. We collected donations to buy 31 children’s books at an average of $15 each.
I know that we are still working on the August 1 First Friday Book Synopsis with two excellent books and our bonus program, but I am already looking forward to my September presentation. It has excellent reviews and plenty of strong publicity, including one by our blogging partner, Bob Morris. You can read his review published on this blog by clicking here.
The Talent Masters: Why Smart Leaders Put People Before Numbers
By Bill Conaty and Ram Charan (New York: Crown Business)
Here is a summary of the book from Amazon.com, and a review published in the Wall Street Journal.
If talent is the leading indicator of whether a business is up or down, a success or a failure (and it is) . . . do you know how to accurately judge raw human talent? Understand a person’s unique combination of traits? Develop that talent? Convert what supposedly are “soft” subjective judgments about people into objective criteria that are as specific, verifiable, and concrete as the contents of a financial statement?
The talent masters do. They put people before numbers for the simple reason that it is talent that delivers the numbers. Success comes from those who are able to extract meaning from events and the forces affecting a business, and are able to look at the world and assess the risks to take and the risks to avoid.
The Talent Masters itself stems from a unique combination of talent: During a forty-year career at General Electric, Bill Conaty worked closely with CEOs Jack Welch and Jeff Immelt to build that company’s worldrenowned talent machine. Ram Charan is the legendary advisor to companies around the world. Together they use their unparalleled experience and insight to write the definitive book on talent—a breakthrough in how to take a business to the next level.
Here is the book review published in the Wall Street Journal, December 8, 2010, p. A21
By ALAN MURRAY
A decade after Jack Welch stepped down as chief executive of General Electric, he still commands remarkable respect as a management guru. The company he once led has lost its magic, the business processes he developed to battle bureaucracy have become bureaucratic themselves, and many of the “graduates” of the Jack Welch school have since stumbled—think Bob Nardelli at Home Depot or Jim McNerney at Boeing. (Has anyone seen that Dreamliner yet?)
Yet Mr. Welch and the management mythology surrounding him continue, untarnished. “The Talent Masters” is the latest celebration of the Welch way. It’s written by Bill Conaty, the recently retired senior vice president for human resources at GE, and Ram Charan, the business adviser and author who often collaborates on books with ex-CEOs.
“The Talent Masters” rests on three principles that characterize the Welch approach to management: (1) A focus on talent development. Mr. Welch and the other “talent masters” in the book—we also hear from folks at companies including Procter & Gamble and Novartis—claim that they spend more than a third of their time developing their people. (2) Differentiation. Talent masters create a meritocracy by constantly evaluating their people—a process which, in Mr. Welch’s case, was derided by critics as “rank and yank.” (3) Candor. This is the ultimate Welch trademark: ruthless honesty in evaluating the performance of people and businesses.
By now the book’s principle-trilogy is familiar.
But the authors add to the Welchian wisdom by documenting some interesting examples. For instance, we learn about the day in 2000 when Larry Johnston, head of GE’s appliance business, flew to corporate headquarters in Fairfield, Conn., to tell his bosses that he was leaving to head up Albertsons, the supermarket chain. The news was a surprise to
Mr. Conaty, to Jeff Immelt—who was then making a transition to the CEO job—and to Mr. Welch.
All three tried to talk Mr. Johnston into changing his mind. But after determining that their effort was futile, the executives turned their attention to succession. Within a half-day they had agreed on who would replace Mr. Johnston and on who would fill three other slots down the chain of command. The quick action was possible, we’re told, only because the three men had been heavily involved in the continuous evaluation of the company’s top talent.
The authors compare GE’s rapid-fire performance in replacing Mr. Johnston with what happened recently at Hewlett Packard, when Mark Hurd was forced to step down after indiscretions involving a marketing consultant. The company, the book says, came “unhinged.” For the third time in little more than a decade, the HP board felt compelled to pick a chief executive from the outside—an implicit acknowledgment of failed succession planning. (Mr. Welch seems almost personally offended by such corporate inattention: The HP board, he told me in an interview before the World Business Forum earlier this year, has “not done one of the primary jobs of a board, which is to prepare the next generation of leadership.” Asked if he knew any of the HP board members personally, Mr. Welch said: “I wouldn’t admit it if I did.”)
Messrs. Conaty and Charan also show the forgiving side of Mr. Welch’s GE. They tell the story of Mark Little, who in 1995 was promoted to vice president of engineering at the company’s Power Systems group. Following his appointment, the group missed its numbers three times in a row, and Mr. Little was demoted. He suspected that his career at GE was over.
Instead, executives there worked with Mr. Little to assure him that he still had a future and to help him rebuild his career in a position that made better use of his talents. Today he is the senior vice president in charge of the corporate R&D center, and one of the company’s top 25 executives.
The book begins with GE-related examples, but some of its most arresting stories come from outside the company. A particularly interesting chapter involves Hindustan Unilever, Unilever’s $3.5 billion Indian subsidiary. The company routinely evaluates candidates for management jobs by putting several applicants together to discuss a specific business issue in a group. This allows the company to see how they interact with each other and who has leadership potential.
Another instructive anecdote comes from Adrian Dillon, Skype’s chief financial officer. Mr. Dillon tells of how, early in his management career, when he was working at Eaton Corp., he was accosted after a meeting by his boss, the company’s CFO. “That was a great meeting, but your problem is that you still think your job is to be the smartest guy in the room. It’s not,” the man told him. Instead, Mr. Dillon was told, his job was to “make everybody in the room think that they’re the smartest guy in the room. You’ve got to teach them what you know and what you do, not tell them.”
Overall, “The Talent Masters” offers a valuable window into the skills of talent development. And it makes a persuasive case, yet again, for the wisdom of the Welch way. But you do have to wonder whether, a decade after Mr. Welch’s retirement, it isn’t time to find a new icon for the rapidly evolving world of business management.
Mr. Murray is deputy managing editor of The Wall Street Journal and the author of “The Wall Street Journal Essential Guide to Management.”
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Maybe Leaders need to offer a Corporate-wide “Big Block of Cheese Day” – To actually Listen to Their People
Read a book on leadership; read any ten books on leadership… You will likely find this in each one. A leader has to be a listener, a very good listener.
If you read them carefully, you will sense that people are starved for leaders who will listen to them. People simply do not feel listened to!
(Side comment: overall, women really are better at listening than men; and, women are underrepresented in top circles of leadership; and, people complain that their leaders do not listen to them. Maybe more women in top circles of leadership could go a long way in lowering such complaints!).
So, if all of these books talk about listening as a needed leadership skill, then maybe leaders should work a little harder at developing their listening skills. (Here’s a good article by Greg Anderson, Listen is an Action Verb, to help you think about some of those specific skills).
But, before you show off those skills, here’s the first step – leaders have to put themselves into a position where they can listen. You know – be physically present, actually seek the comments and suggestions and questions and complaints of the folks who wish they were listened to.
So, here’s a thought. Maybe your organization needs a “big block of cheese day.” With your leader, and your circle of leaders (your leadership team), just sitting and listening for the day to anyone and everyone who has something to say.
If you don’t know about the “big lock of cheese day,” it was a wonderful episode (actually, 2 episodes) from the West Wing television show. Resurrecting an old practice from the Andrew Jackson days, the White House would open its doors, offering a slice of cheese to any and all comers, and “forcing” their top leadership team members to listen to ideas from the people. These are great episodes. And, it might not be a bad idea for all public servants.
(Recently, President Obama’s administration had a “Virtual Block of Cheese Day.” The purpose: to listen. To listen to people who do not feel listened to).
What if your company or organization did this a couple of times a year? What if your leadership team really did listen to people who work for the company/organization, but never feel listened to?
This is kind of the premise behind the television show The Undercover Boss. In each episode, the boss goes into intense listening mode, and always learns important things that he/she would not have learned any other way.
What could come from this?
First, people would begin to feel listened to.
Second, you might get some pretty good ideas. And some solutions to problems – solutions that you had not thought of.
Third, you might develop a reputation of being an organization that listens to its people well.
Will it work? I don’t know. But, I think it might be worth a try.
Here’s what I do know. I’ve been reading leadership books for quite a few years now. The books seem to be in full agreement — people don’t feel listened to. I don’t see much progress being made in the listening department. Maybe this idea is worth a try.
You got a better idea?
Content + Networking.
Something to learn, someone to see.
Something to learn that will help you in your career, in your business, in your life.
Someone to see that will stimulate your thinking, push you forward…
These are the essential ingredients of an event that is “worth your time.” You have stuff you need to learn. And, there is always that next new person to meet. You never know when that next new person is exactly the one who will help you move forward, or make that next important introduction for you.
Content + working – that’s what you need to make an event worth your time.
And, don’t forget, you might be that someone that someone else needs to meet.
(OH — and good food doesn’t hurt).
Shameless plug — our monthly First Friday Book Synopsis has both of these: content + networking. Great content, because we provide synopses of useful, valuable business books. And great networking — there is always a conversation or more that lingers well past our “end time.” People make important connections at our events! We started back in April, 1998. In our 17th year, our next session is August 1. Click on the flier for all the details. And go to our home page on this web site to register for our Aug. 1 event.
(And, by the way, the food is… well, the Park City Club provides the best breakfast buffet I’ve had in Dallas).
Before you decide upon an ethics program for your organization, consider how the facilitator conducts it, and what content he or she exposes your people to.
We don’t think training people about ethics should be from a situational or conditional perspective. We don’t believe in excuses or promises. We don’t believe in people sitting in a chair absorbing content. We think participants must immerse themselves in the world of ethical behavior and then practically apply that behavior every day on the job. We are serious about this. However, learning about ethics does not have to be uncomfortable, dry, and a guilt trip. We make it interesting and fun by emphasizing interaction and participant input. Afterwards, many people want even more!
In the 2-hour program we offer at Creative Communication Network, we use the following agenda to cover these topics:
- Traits: A failure in ethics starts with the loss of foundational human traits. What kind of person works in an ethical organization?
- Danger Signs: Most ethical failure is quite unintentional. Discover and examine your organization’s own danger signs.
- Prevention: An “ounce of prevention” is good for physical health, and it is equally good for ethical health. What preventative disciplines do you have in place in your organization?
- Ethical Bases: Sometimes, ethical failure is the failure to cover every ethical base. Does your organization have all the key players, and elements, in place?
- Scenario Discussion: Each participant will also participate in some challenging scenarios that open up discussion for noble, ethical behavior. We will also have time for questions and answers.
We call our program:
Ethical Undergirding in a World of Intentional, even Willful, Blindness
- 2-HOUR INTERACTIVE, FAST-PACED TRAINING SESSION
- CERTIFICATES OF COMPLETION FOR ALL ATTENDEES
- CERTIFIED LIST OF ATTENDEES FOR YOUR COMPANY’S RECORDS
Here are the terms:
- $800 facilitation fee for an unlimited number of participants.
- $3.50 per-person materials fee.
- Discounts available for same-day, 2-sessions – $1500; same-day, 4-sessions – $2750.
- You are responsible for any location or audio-visual equipment rental, and refreshments.
- 50% deposit required upon booking.
We’re really excited about this program. We are confident about what we do.
Complete information is available simply by calling (972) 980-0383. You can also send an e-Mail to email@example.com.
THIS COULD BE THE BEST $800 YOUR COMPANY HAS EVER SPENT!
SHIELD YOURSELF FROM DAMAGING, COSTLY LAWSUITS BY CERTIFYING YOUR EMPLOYEES WITH OUR ETHICS TRAINING
When Bill Lee and I wrote Organizing Change (San Francisco: Pfeiffer-Jossey Bass, 2003), we did so from a large-scale perspective. Our premise was that it is easier to consider change from a high-level such as a one that affects an entire organization, then, whittle it down to whatever level you want to use, such as a division, department, or unit.
While the magnitude of a change may differ by size, the principles do not. As you read our book, you will find three major concerns that you want to be aware of for any change that you lead or initiate. These are to be:
inclusive – go as deep as possible in the organizational charts of the areas affected by the change; get input from as many people as you can; it is difficult to argue against a change you helped create. Remember what Covey said years ago – “without involvement there is not commitment.” Make the change “our initiative” not “mine.”
systemic - consider how the change will affect all types of stakeholders; consider other departments or units in the organization, internal and external customers, consumers, and so forth.
systematic – organize the change phase by phase; decide who does what when; get it right the first time, and you will not lose productivity while kicking off the change initiative.
When you lead change, you are in the driver’s seat, not the passenger’s seat. You make decisions that craft and create important paths that various stakeholders take to solve a problem, correct a difficulty, or make something that is “good” even better. What is important, however, is to know that you never begin with the change initiative. You always begin with the recognition of a problem, issue, or uncomfortable situation. That principle will remind you of John Kotter’s first step in his change process, which is URGENCY. In fact, he wrote an entire book about that step, which you can purchase a synopsis of from 15MinuteBusinessBooks.com.
It is amazing how many people I have taught this process to in professional workshops and courses over the last ten years. I remember the first one for Citi so well, as if it were yesterday. Right now, we have two weeks to go in the MBA course “Leading Change” at the University of Dallas College of Business, where I use this book and teach practical implementation of the process. In this course, we don’t talk about change – we make change.
I know it works. We would not have had this many interested people if the process were unsuccessful. Fortunately, I hear back from so many individuals who implement the program in their organizations, that I am inspired to continue to share it with others.
At Creative Communication Network, we offer two paths for change. We do this in workshops, consulting, and coaching for both paths.
Take MANAGING CHANGE
if you want to:
Cope with change you didn’t create
Work in a change-friendly environment
Reduce personal anxiety about change
Produce an environment of freedom
Look for positive changes to implement
Take LEADING CHANGE
if you want to:
Reduce the impact of a problem
Design an organized change initiative
Gain commitment by influencing others involved in the change
Boost the positive impact of change on those affected by it
Measure and evaluate the effectiveness of the change
We’re really excited about these programs. We will be going into companies as well as conducting public workshops. Complete information, including agendas, outlines, objectives, pricing, and other details are available by calling (972) 980-0383 or sending an e-Mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Don’t wait! Join the fully satisfied individuals from many organizations who have benefited from these programs.
Here is how to get the book that we use in Leading Change. It is now a print-on-demand book directly from the publisher. After you get it, you can contact me for the templates that are featured within the book. This is the link to use:
When Your Ethics Are Unethical – A Lesson From History (“Restrictive Covenants,” Including from Right Here in the Heart of Wealthy Dallas)
following accepted rules of behavior : morally right and good
So, here’s a question. What happens when your ethics are unethical? What happens when “following accepted rules of behavior” actually means following utterly unacceptable rules of behavior?
Try this line of thought:
Property values must be protected
Anything that threatens property values must be opposed
It is unethical to do business in a way that threatens property values
Sounds reasonable, “right,” doesn’t it?
But what if it is wrong?
Something I heard recently sent me combing back through my handout on the book Some of My Best Friends Are Black: The Strange Story of Integration in America by Tanner Colby. (I presented my synopsis of this book at the Urban Engagement Book Club). I remembered the passage about Hugh Prather, who developed part of Highland Park (that’s the “Wealthy Dallas” I referred to in the title of this post) early in the last century. It was modeled after other developments across the country. So, If I lived in a different city, it would be a different developer and a different development I would have thought of. Across the country, developments put “restrictive covenants” front and center in their legal language. From the book:
Self-perpetuating restrictive covenants soon found their way into… Highland Park north of Dallas,… and many other high-end subdivisions.
The people behind these developments considered the increase of, or at least the protection of, property values to be a major ethical obligation. Nothing was to threaten the value of the property. Nothing! Which led to a code of ethics, developed by the “National Association of Real Estate Boards (NAREB), one of the most powerful trade associations in the country.”
A code of ethics. That is a good thing to have, right? That is a good practice, to establish a code of ethics, for all professionals to follow. Professionals would proudly let it be known that they abided by such a code of ethics. They were safe and reliable, good folks to do business with.
So, here is what was included in their code of ethics (again, from the book):
In 1924 NAREB made racial discrimination official policy, updating its code of ethics to say, “A Realtor should never be instrumental in introducing into a neighborhood… members of any race or nationality… whose presence will clearly be detrimental to the property values of that neighborhood. Like termites, they undermine the structure of any neighborhood in which they creep.” All of which was legal.
So, it was ethical to practice discrimination; it was unethical to not discriminate.
Wilbur Zelinsky of Pennsylvania State University formulated the key theory in 1973, which he called the Doctrine of First Effective Settlement. “Whenever an empty territory undergoes settlement, or an earlier population is dislodged by invaders, the specific characteristics of the first group able to effect a viable, self-perpetuating society are of crucial significance for the later social and cultural geography of the area, no matter how tiny the initial band of settlers may have been,” Zelinsky wrote. “Thus, in terms of lasting impact, the activities of a few hundred, or even a few score, initial colonizers can mean much more for the cultural geography of a place than the contributions of tens of thousands of new immigrants a few generations later.”
So, let’s recap.
Property values are to be protected – it is ethical to protect property values; it is unethical to lower, or even threaten, property values.
“Initial colonizers” carry a lot of weight, no matter how many different kinds of people come into a place later…
So, here’s what I ‘m saying. Racism was basically placed in the very ethical DNA in many parts of the country. To allow people from the “wrong race or nationality” to purchase property and move into the neighborhood was potentially “detrimental to the property values.” Thus, it was an unethical practice of any real estate professional to do business with such people. Because the protection of property values provides a higher ethical standard than acceptance of fellow human beings.
And, make no mistake. This had nothing to do with “meritocracy.” If a black person had the means to buy a house in a given neighborhood, they were prohibited from doing so – legally prohibited. It would threaten the property values. (Read the book Some of My Best Friends Are Black. It is a sobering read).
I would call this unethical ethics. Wouldn’t you?
(And, yes, sadly, racism is still present in too many ways in too many places).
Now, here’s the issue for today. Do you think this ethical stance, this “restrictive covenant” practice was wrong? I do. And it has certainly been outlawed. Restrictive covenants are no longer legally allowed (though some have “stayed on the books.”)
But we’re still not to the point. Here’s the point. If those who came before us – people who were smart, well-educated, “pillars of the community” – called such practices “ethical,” and were so wrong (and, they were in fact so very wrong), is it possible that some of our own stances today that we consider “acceptable rules of behavior; ethical” are equally wrong?
My bet is yes. And the pursuit of ethics is all about that quest – identifying our own unethical behavior, even behavior we have not yet realized is unethical.
Here’s my bet. The horror I feel while reading about practices in the early 1900s (practices which lingered well into my own lifetime) will be similar to the horror others feel 100 years from now as they read about some of the practices we follow today.
Horizontal Connections; Vertical Connections – What Good Networkers Can Learn from a Great Journalist (A Networking Lesson from Lawrence Wright)
This is great advice for all who what to become better at “networking.” And, who doesn’t want to become better at networking?
Lawrence Wright won the Pulitzer Prize for his book, The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11. His latest book, Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief, is also an award winning work of journalism. And, this book was the selection of the Summer Points Book Club of the Dallas Morning News.
Mr. Wright spoke this past Sunday here in Dallas, sponsored by the Dallas Morning News. He gave a brief presentation, then had a terrific, lengthy question and answer session. Nicole Stockman, the leader of the Summer Points Book Club, asked him how he manages the research challenge for his books. He interviewed many hundreds of sources for his book The Looming Tower, and fewer, but still hundreds for his book Going Clear.
Here’s his answer (paraphrased, from my memory):
First, he comes up with every name he can that could offer him information and insight. Then he talks to as many as would agree to talk to him. (As he talked about this, he described how he would fly to any city, to speak to any source for information).
Then, after each visit, he just knew when one visit would be enough, or… he would like to go back to certain folks time and again. He called these his:
A horizontal connection was a one-time visit – valuable, but once was enough. Maybe once was enough because that was all that source had to offer. Or, maybe, once was enough because that person was not open to further conversations
Here’s a reinforcement of this idea from Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time (The Ultimate Networker Reveals How to Build a Lifelong Community of Colleagues, Contacts, Friends, and Mentors) by Keith Ferrazzi:
Sticking to the people we already know is a tempting behavior. But unlike some forms of dating, a networker isn’t looking to achieve only a single successful union. Creating an enriching circle of trusted relationships requires one to be out there, in the mix, all the time.
A vertical connection was a person for whom one visit/interview was not enough. This person was perfect for repeat visits/interviews. Maybe they had more to offer; maybe they were willing to talk more. These were the folks he would go back to time and again.
(From somewhere back in my memory, I remember reading how David Halberstam, another Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist, organized his research. This sounds similar. But I really like the clarity of the terms: horizontal and vertical connections).
So, there’s your networking strategy. Practice Horizontal Networking; meet every one you can. Talk to as many people as you can. And, Practice Vertical Networking. Some of those “new connections” become repeat connections – those “we become evaluable to each other” connections.
The successful organization and management of the information that makes connecting flourish is vital. Tracking the people you know, the people you want to know, and doing all the homework that will help you develop intimate relationships with others can cause one heck of an information overload.
Lawrence Wright learned how to manage all of the information from all of those “sources.” In our lives, we have to learn how to manage all of our connections. Horizontal and Vertical Networking can be a good way to tackle this challenge.