George Kohlrieser is an organizational and clinical psychologist. He is Professor of Leadership and Organizational Behaviour at IMD and consultant to several global companies including Accenture, Alcan, Amer Sports, Barclays Global Investors, Cisco, Coca-Cola, HP, IBM, IFC, Morgan Stanley, Motorola, Nestlé, Nokia, Roche, Sara Lee, Tetra Pak, and Toyota. He is also a Police Psychologist and Hostage Negotiator focusing on aggression management and hostage negotiations. He has worked in over 100 countries spanning five continents.
Kohlrieser is Director of the High Performance Leadership (HPL) Program, an intense six-day IMD program for experienced senior leaders and the Advanced High Performance Leadership (AHPL) for former HPL participants. He completed his doctorate at Ohio State University where he wrote his dissertation on cardio vascular recovery of law enforcement leaders following high stress situations. His research has made significant contributions to understanding the role self-mastery and social dialogue has in helping leaders sustain high performance through life long learning.
He is Associate Clinical Professor of Psychology, Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio, adjunct faculty member of Union Graduate School, Antioch, Ohio, adjunct faculty member of Fielding Institute San Francisco, California, adjunct faculty member of Zagreb University, Croatia. He is past president of the International Transactional Analysis Association, San Francisco, California and is also a member of the Society of International Business Fellows (SIBF). He has consulted for the BBC, CNN, ABC, and CBS and his work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, the Economist, and other leading newspapers and magazines.
He is author of the internationally bestselling book, Hostage At The Table: How Leaders Can Overcome Conflict, Influence Others, and Raise Performance, and, more recently, co-author of Care to Dare: Unleashing Astonishing Potential Through Secure Base Leadership with Susan Goldsworthy and Duncan Coombe.
Here is an excerpt from my interview of him. To read the complete interview, please click here.
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Morris: Most change initiatives either fail or fall far short of original (perhaps unrealistic) expectations. More often than not, the resistance to change is cultural in nature, the result of what James O’Toole so aptly characterizes as “the ideology of comfort and the tyranny of custom.” Your thoughts?
Kohlrieser: This is a very interesting and challenging point. In fact, research shows that people do not naturally resist change – they resist the fear of the unknown and the pain of the change. The human brain actually thrives on curiosity, innovation, new learning, challenge and change to create new neurons until the day we die. This has come to be known as brain plasticity. Followers with a secure base leader will be empowered to successfully navigate the uncertainty, ambiguity, and other unknowns associated with change. James O’Toole is correct: most people are hostages to the “ideology of comfort” and to the status quo. They do not dare themselves to do something new or different. The challenge for leaders is to build trust that enables them to drive change. If leaders are not driving change, they are not really leading. We must dispel the myth that people naturally resist change – it is simply not true.
Morris: Looking ahead what do you think will be the greatest challenge that CEOs will face?
Kohlrieser: The greatest challenge I see is the “paradox of caring” – being able to both care and also dare followers, teams and organizations to achieve their full potential and to be true innovators. How do leaders show enough caring and bonding, even with difficult people and those they don’t like? Giving regular feedback and conveying hard truths unlock the door to the highest levels of performance. Successful leaders challenge their people by inspiring them and building trust, not by coercion, control or threats.
Leaders must drive change. Without change organizations wither and die. Leaders who don’t drive change put their companies in grave danger. The challenge facing leaders is to explain the benefits that change will bring. I use the term ”secure base leader” to describe someone who gives a sense of safety as well as the inspiration and energy to encourage followers to explore and take risk. In other words, you must care enough to encourage daring by shutting down the defensive nature of the brain and invite the mind’s eye to seek opportunity and possibility. This combination is crucial, and it’s why my new book about unleashing astonishing potential is called Care to Dare.
Morris: In your opinion, why do so many C-level executives seem to have such a difficult time delegating work to others?
Kohlrieser: It comes down to focus and trust. Secure base leaders, referred to in my books, always look for underdeveloped talents and turn delegation into opportunities to stretch people. This means they have to trust people to learn, develop and possibly to fail. Letting go of control is often the most difficult thing for an executive to do. After all, their experience means they often assume they know how to do things better, which may or may not be true. Give people a secure base leader and they will achieve amazing things – delegating is one form of stretching another person to show what they can do. The executive must always be standing behind as a secure base. A good example is flight training. There is a moment when the flight instructor must relinquish the flight controls to the trainee.
Morris: When and why did you decide to write Hostage at the Table?
Kohlrieser: I have been held hostage four times. Early in my career it became clear that hostage negotiators have to establish a relationship with a very unlikeable, even despicable person. They must engage in a dialogue under high pressure and influence the hostage taker to give up their weapons and their hostages knowing that they will likely go to prison. The success rate of hostage negotiators doing this work is an extraordinary 95 per cent. When I described what hostage negotiators do to the executives and other professionals I work with at my IMD High Performance Leadership Program, they wanted to know if the secret of hostage negotiation can be applied to situations when one is being held a psychological hostage.
It is one thing to be a hostage with a gun to your head; it is another to be held hostage by a boss, spouse, situation or yourself. People wanted to know how hostage negotiations applied to everyday situations. So the “hostage” metaphor is a highly empowering concept that I wanted to describe in the book based on theory and actual stories. The fact is even when physically a hostage, you don’t need to feel a hostage. The techniques used to gain freedom in a hostage situation can be used by all of us in everyday life. Warren Bennis and Dan Goleman, my two wonderful mentors, colleagues and friends, encouraged me to formulate these ideas into a book, and I was honored to have Warren Bennis include it in his Leadership series.
Morris: Obviously, much of the material in the book seems to be based on what you learned from your extensive experience as a police psychologist and hostage negotiator. What were the most valuable lessons learned from that experience?
Kohlrieser: I have learned a number of lessons in my 40-year career. The most powerful lessons for me have been:
1. The power of bonding and the impact dialogue can have on an adversary, a hostage taker, or a person threatening violence.
2. The paradox of caring. Hostage negotiation succeeds because the hostage taker feels genuine care, interest and concern from the hostage negotiator.
3. The power of focusing on the goal and not on the danger or the problem. When facing a gun, the brain will naturally focus on the weapon unless you train your brain to focus on the person and the goal.
4. The power of language, dialogue and of asking questions.
5. Making concessions within a negotiation.
6. The power of loss in motivating people and in driving violence, especially hostage taking. There is always a loss that precedes a hostage-taking situation.
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To read the complete interview, please click here.
George cordially invites you to check out the resources at these websites:
His home page
His faculty page
His Amazon page
IMD “Big Think” interview
It is by no means an anomaly that two of the best authorities on the writing process, Michael Lewis and Stephen King, are themselves prolific authors of countless bestsellers. The paperbound edition of King’s On Writing is a steal at $7.99 when purchased at Amazon.com. As for Lewis, his own bestsellers include Liar’s Poker, The New New Thing, Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game, Panic: The Story of Modern Financial Insanity, Home Game: An Accidental Guide to Fatherhood, The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine, and most recently, Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World. He is currently a contributing editor to Vanity Fair.
Here is a lively and revealing excerpt from an interview of Lewis in Robert Boynton’s The New Journalism: Conversations with America’s Best Nonfiction Writers on Their Craft published by Vintage Press (2005). You can purchase the paperbound edition from Amazon for only $10.85.
How Do You Begin Writing?
Fitfully. I’ll write something but it won’t be the beginning of the middle or the end – I’m just getting an idea out on the page. Then, as the words accumulate, I start thinking about how they need to be organized.
[Note: When beginning to write most days, D.H. Lawrence preferred to express himself in a sequence of single sentences in no particular order; he eliminated duplications, added omissions, revised, and then re-ordered into clusters that eventually became paragraphs.]
Is There Any Time of the Day That You Like to Write?
I’ve always written best very early in the morning and very late at night. I write very little in the middle of the day. If I do any work in the middle of the day, it is editing what I have written that morning.
What Would Your Ideal Day Look Like?
Left to my own devices, with no family, I’d start writing at 7 P.M. and stop at 4 A.M. That’s the way I used to write. I liked to get ahead of everybody. I’d think to myself, ‘I’m starting tomorrow’s workday, tonight!’ Late nights are wonderfully tranquil. No phone calls, no interruptions. I like the feeling of knowing that nobody is trying to reach me.
Is There Anywhere You Need to Be In Order to Write?
No, I’ve written in every conceivable circumstance. I like writing in my office, which is an old redwood cabin about a hundred yards from my house in Berkeley. It has a kitchen, a little bedroom, a bathroom, and a living room, which I use as a study. But I’ve written in awful enough situations that I know that the quality of the prose doesn’t depend on the circumstance in which it is composed. I don’t believe the muse visits you. I believe that you visit the muse. If you wait for that ‘perfect moment’ you’re not going to be very productive.”
Leadership lessons to be learned from the military services, especially from the U.S. Marines
As Helio Fred Garcia correctly notes in the Introduction to his book, “Whatever else leadership may be, it is experienced publicly. While it may emote from within, it is a public phenomenon. A leader is judged on thee fundamental public leadership attributes.” They are bearing (i.e. how the leader carries himself or herself), the words used (i.e. what is said, usually to attract and engage others), and the manner of style by which the leader engages others’ support and involvement. “These are elements of communication…and as leadership discipline, communication benefits from the structures, concepts, and principles of effective leadership” that apply well in the military services and other fields in which leadership is required.
Warfighting: U.S. Marine Corps Doctrinal Publication No. 1 (1995) is Garcia’s primary source as he converts its core principles into guidelines for effective leadership communication, including non-verbal as well as verbal initiatives. He also calls upon more than three decades of advising and coaching leaders and more than two decades of teaching in graduate-level programs at various universities. He also makes extensive use of case studies in which real-world leaders are involved in high-risk/high-stakes real-world situations.
There are no head-snapping revelations in this book, nor does Garcia make any such claim. Its greatest strengths are found within the framework he establishes and develops when presenting his material in the Three Parts:
o Leadership and Communication: Connecting with Audiences (Chapters 1-5)
o Strategy and Communication: Planning and Execution (Chapter 6)
o Building Skills: Getting Good at Communicating Well (Chapters 7-10).
Then in an Appendix, Garcia reviews and discusses “Warfighting Principles for Leadership Communication.” I commend him, also, on his skill use of two reader-friendly device s at the conclusion of each chapter: “Recap: Best Practices from This Chapter” (relevant excerpts from Warfighting) and “Lessons for Leaders and Communicators” in which he reviews key points and poses thought-provoking questions. These communication devices are very effective, both in terms of providing valuable information and serving as examples of how to formulate ideas precisely and concisely.
Inevitably, discussions of “leadership” in the military services evoke images of officers, especially generals, whereas discussions of “leadership” in business evoke images of C-level executives, especially CEOs. Obviously, the material Garcia covers will be of great interest and value to them. However, both in the military services and in the business world, effective leaders are needed at all kevels and in all areas, and their effectiveness will largely depend on their skills as a communicator.
Those who share my high regard for this book are urged to check out the aforementioned Warfighting: U.S. Marine Corps Doctrinal Publication No. 1. Amazon sells a paperbound edition published by Crown for only $8.49. I also recommend Be•Know•Do: Leadership the Army Way: Adapted from the Official Army Leadership Manual for which Frances Hesselbein and General Eric K. Shinseki (U.S.A. Ret.) wrote an Introduction) and to which Richard E. Cavanagh added a Foreword. Amazon sells a hardbound edition for $16.47. It is also available in a Kindle Edition.
Here is an excerpt from John A. Byrne’s cover article by FORTUNE magazine. Great ideas are hard to come by. Putting them to work is even harder. Byrne invites you to meet the founders who turned concepts into companies and changed the face of business.
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When Jeff Bezos came up with the idea for what would become Amazon.com, he went on a stroll in Central Park with his boss at the time to share his epiphany.
Bezos, in 1992, was a senior vice president for the New York hedge fund D.E. Shaw. He described his dream to create a company that would sell books on the Internet. His boss listened intently before offering a bit of advice: “That sounds like a really good idea, but it would be an even better idea for someone who didn’t already have a good job.”
Big ideas of the ground-shifting variety are rare — and hard to pull off. But that’s the difference between the dreamer and the doer. It took Bezos all of 48 hours to decide to quit his job and get started. Some 18 years later, he’s still at the helm of Amazon.com, which has redefined the way people buy almost everything, employs 56,200 people, and is valued at more than $80 billion.
Having spent years studying Bezos and others like him as an author, senior writer, and editor at both Business Week and Fast Company, I can tell you that Bezos is one of those rare birds who have made a meaningful mark on our economy and our world. He would certainly be on anyone’s list of the 12 greatest entrepreneurs of my generation. Who else should make that cut? After spending the better part of the past year pondering that question for a new book, World Changers: 25 Entrepreneurs Who Changed Business as We Knew It (Portfolio Penguin), I was asked by FORTUNE who deserves to be on that list — and what we can learn from each of them.
Many are obvious — from the late Steve Jobs, who helped make Apple the hottest and most valuable company on the planet, to Mark Zuckerberg, who will take Facebook public in what is anticipated to be the biggest IPO of all time (at a value of more than $80 billion). But there will be a few surprises too, such as N.R. Narayana Murthy, the visionary founder of Infosys who has built one of the largest companies in India, helping to transform that economy and put it on the world stage.
Another surprise: Not a single woman makes the list of the top 12 — at a time when women have gathered more influence and power in business than ever before. Oprah Winfrey has leveraged her celebrity into a formidable media empire, and the late Body Shop founder Anita Roddick proved that you could market products by being socially and environmentally responsible. They clearly warrant honorable mention but have not, in my view, transformed the face of business or society in as profound a way as those singled out here.
Admittedly this list of the world’s greatest entrepreneurs is subjective. I based it largely on social and economic impact; the world-changing vision of a founder who has inspired employees and other entrepreneurs alike; a record of innovation; and the actual performance of their companies over time. These founders created and then nurtured healthy, sustainable organizations that now have a combined market value of more than $1.7 trillion. They directly employ more than 3 million people, ranging from a high of 2.1 million at Wal-Mart to just over 3,000 at Facebook.
Yet those numbers only touch the surface. Each of their companies sits at the nucleus of a thriving ecosystem that has cultivated and nurtured dozens if not hundreds of other enterprises. Small companies have thrived as suppliers, for example, to Whole Foods, which, among other things, buys produce from more than 2,000 local farms. So the power of each of these organizations extends far beyond its own walls.
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To read the complete article, please click here.
John A. Byrne is Chairman & Editor-in-Chief at C-Change Media Inc. John A. Byrne is the chairman and CEO of C-Change Media Inc. Until recently, Byrne was editor-in-chief of BusinessWeek.com and executive editor of BusinessWeek. He holds the distinction of authoring a record 58 cover stories in BusinessWeek magazine and is also the author or co-author of eight business books, including two New York Times‘ bestsellers. Byrne had also been editor-in-chief of Fast Company magazine. He founded C-Change Media, a digital media company, to take advantage of the sea change that is roiling the traditional media business. C stands for content, curation and community, the three common attributes of each C-Change web venture.
In addition to serving as President of my performance intervention business in Dallas, Creative Communication Network, I also teach part-time in the College of Business MBA program at the University of Dallas, and for two community colleges in the Dallas County Community College District.
I thought the format of one of the books that we have adopted at Brookhaven Community College for the freshman course in Speech Communication is quite revolutionary. The book is entitled Think Communication, authored by Isa N. Engleberg and Dianna R. Wynn (Allyn & Bacon, 2011).
This is a 4-color, ultra-glossy book, that looks more like an oversized magazine. The pages are 8 1/2 x 11″ in portrait format. It is 386 pages long. It is “snazzy” with a busy, nontraditional format on each page, with different and striking headers. The book also links to a web site for interactive exercises and reflections (www.thethinkspot.com).
You are probably thinking this book sounds very expensive. In fact, I have seen some accounting textbooks that are 4-color run more than $350. You will be as shocked as I am to find that the book is only $57, and on Amazon.com, sells for just $45.
The book should be a major hit for Generation Y and Z college students. Each page looks just like they are used to on computer and television screens. The pages are busy, filled with format that changes as they go through a chapter.
This book is part of a larger series that all have the same format. There are books for courses in government, psychology, sociology, public relations, human sexuality, and critical thinking.
We are just now starting to use this book in the fall 2011 term. I am interested to see how students like it, and more importantly, if it results in higher test and course grades.
How do you react to this?
Let’s talk about it really soon
In a stunning reversal against the digital book market, the Wall Street Journal reports that a successful author has turned to phyiscal paperbacks through a contract with a traditional publisher. The article, authored by Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg, is entitled “E-Book Author Tries New Format: Real Paperbacks” (August 23, 2011, p. B4).
The author, John Locke, was the first self-published writer to sell more than one million digital books on Amazon.com. The contract with CBS Corporation’s Simon & Schuster will distribute eight of Locke’s thrillers that feature Donovan Creed, a former CIA assassin.
Despite the trend of books moving to the digital format, and despite the trend of traditional bookstores such as Borders closing, the good news is that “there are still lots of retail outlets for books,” according to a quote in the article from Adam Rothberg, a spokesperson for Simon & Schuster.
Are you surprised by this?
Let’s talk about it really soon!
How to achieve and then sustain both outstanding leadership and management throughout the given enterprise
Scott Keller and Colin Price acknowledge that although there is a “multitude” of books about business leadership and management already in print (actually, Amazon now offers 16,075 titles), they believe that “no other work offers what we are trying to provide. Our approach combines two views. The first view is of a ‘stable equilibrium’ state of organizational excellence in which high performance can be sustained; the second is of the dynamics of the transition required to reach that state…by combining static and dynamic views of organizations, we aim to arrive at a fuller understanding of their fundamental nature. To that end, we aim to shift the ‘installed base’ of management thinking’…Our central message is focusing on organizational health – which we define as the ability of your organization to align, execute, and renew itself faster that your competitors can – is just important as focusing on the traditional drivers of business performance.”
With all that clarified up front, Keller and Price then carefully guide their reader through a five-stage process (appropriately identified as the “5 As”) for developing capabilities beyond their current potentialities for performance in order to achieve and then sustain “ultimate competitive advantage.” Frankly, I am astonished by the fact that so many C-level executives still do not fully understand that their organization’s #1 competitor tomorrow will be what it offers today. Today’s performance is measured in terms of specific results. By nature, results occur at the conclusion of a process of effort. The challenge is to become so “healthy” as an organization that the capabilities are there to align, execute, and renew faster than the competition so that the organization can sustain exceptional performance over time.
Kelly and Price identify and then discuss what they characterize as the “Nine Elements of Organizational Health.” Let’s take a brief look at the first five practices that underpin organizational health:
1. Direction: Shared vision, strategic clarity, and employee involvement/engagement
Question: What is the ultimate destination
2. Leadership: Authoritative, consultative, supportive, and challenging
Question: Who will take us there?
3. Culture and climate: Open and trusting, internally competitive, operationally disciplined, and creative and entrepreneurial
Question: Do we really believe in the power of first-person plural pronouns?
4. Accountability: Role clarity, performance contracts, consequence management, and personal ownership
Question: Do we have almost total buy-in on who we are, what we do, how we do it, and why?
5. Coordination and control: People performance review, operational management, and financial management
Question: Do we do what is most important, constantly improve what we do, and measure it?
The other four elements are Capabilities, Motivation, External Orientation, and Innovation and learning. Kelly and Price rigorously examine within five frames (i.e. the “5): Aspire (“Where do we want to go?”), Assess, (“How ready are we to go there?”), Architect (“What do we need to do to get there?”), Act (“How do we manage the journey?), and Advance (“”How do we keep moving forward?”). In Part II, Kelly and Price devote a separate chapter to each and then in Part III, help their reader to pull it all together. More specifically, they examine the senior leader’s role, how the five separate but interconnected frames can help to make an organization even “healthier,” and finally, what which specific challenges their reader will probably encounter and how the information, insights, and counsel in the book can help the reader to respond effectively to those challenges.
Some readers will accept Kelly and Price’s challenge, others won’t. Some will then succeed, others won’t. If the road to hell is paved with good intentions, the road to failure in business is paved with “nice tries.” I agree with the Jedi Master, Yoda: “Do or do not. There is no try.”
I have never been on board with electronic books. I am not excited about any of the devices such as Kindle, Nook, or iPads. I like a book. I like to hold it, carry it, display it, and engage in conversations about it when others see what I am reading.
I thought it was interesting in the Wall Street Journal on May 9, 2011, when Penguin Books CEO John Makinson claimed there is still a future for physical books. The article is entitled “Penguin CEO Adjusts to E-Books but Sees Room for the Old” (p. B9). The link to the full article appears below, authored by Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg.
Notice that he says that physical books will always be published. “As we add value to the physical product, particularly the trade paperback and hardcover, the consumer will pay a little more for the better experience. I looked the other day into the sales of public-domain classics in 2009, when all those books were available for free. What I found was that our sales had risen by 30% that year. The reason is that we were starting to sell hardcover editions—more expensive editions—that people were prepared to pay for. There will always be a market for physical books, just as I think there will always be bookstores.”
And, even with the closing of Borders’ bookstores, he finds a strong future for such retail outlets. “There is a future in book retailing. A lot of the issue is not just that there are too many bookstores, but that they are too big. How do you diversify the offerings to consumers in order to make productive use of space without losing the experience of being in a bookstore?”
Finally, as I have stressed in other posts on this blog, there is a strong emotional link that book owners experience that goes beyond mere content. Makinson notes that “When you look at the structural competitive advantages Amazon.com has over any physical bookstore, it is overwhelming. But people will willingly pay a higher price in an independent bookshop knowing they can buy [the same book] for less down the road. That’s because consumers feel an emotional engagement with the bookstore and feel that bookstores are providing a public service as well as a commercial service. I see no evidence that independent bookstores will become obsolete.”
I am excited and energized by the fact that a leading, credible authority in the business remains in the physical book arena. While he reads manuscripts in digital devices, he reads physical books as well.
What do you think? Let’s discuss this really soon!