“Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence.”
The Lombardi remarks help to explain why Bob Vanourek and Greg Vanourek urge all leaders as well as those who aspire to become one to “chase perfection” at a time when “we live in a world that is overmanaged and underled.”
By the way, this is precisely what J. Keith Murnighan has in mind, in Do Nothing!: How to Stop Overmanaging and Become a Great Leader, when observing, ”Things are simpler when other people are in charge and you don’t have to make big decisions. Taking over as a leader means that you must depart from the comfort of the status quo, and the anxiety, fear, and uncertainty that accompany your excitement really are noxious. To avoid these feelings, people naturally fall back on what’s familiar and certain – that is, what they know how to do. Unfortunately, this can be truly counterproductive.”
Readers will appreciate the abundance of information, insights, and counsel that the Vanoureks provide, much of it based their wide and deep experience with C-level leadership worldwide as well as their interviews of leaders at 61 quite different organizations based in 11 countries. These organizations include Cisco, eBay, Google, KIPP, Xerox, and Zappos. Readers will also appreciate the provision of “Practical Applications,” an end-of-chapter section that suggests options for implementation relevant material, Chapters 1-10.
Here are some of the several dozen passages that caught my eye:
o Chapter Road Map (Pages 13-16)
o Benefits of Triple Crown Leadership (36-37)
o Chapter  Supplment: Interviewing for Heart (59-60)
o Getting Beyond [One's] Natural Leadership Style (90-92)
o Personal Breakdowns and Organizational Breakdowns (151-152 & 152-154)
o Turnaround Adaptations (176-184)
o TripleCrown Social Impact (218-226)
No brief commentary such as this can do full justice to the nature and extent of invaluable material that the Vanoureks provide in this volume. They strike me as being world-class pragmatists who have an insatiable curiosity to understand — insofar as great leadership is concerned — what works, what doesn’t, and why. They are eager, indeed obsessed to share what they have learned with as many principled, results-driven executives as they can. They immediately establish a direct and personal rapport with their reader. In fact, most of those who read this book will feel — as I did — that the book was written specifically for them.
Presumably Bob and Greg Vanourek agree with me that it would be a fool’s errand to attempt to apply everything learned. Although the core values remain the same for all organizations (i.e. Excellent, Ethical, and Enduring), it remains for each reader to select material that is most appropriate to the needs, interests, resources, and values of the given organization.
Long ago, Oscar Wilde offered excellent personal advice: “Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.” The same is true of organizations and especially true of companies such as Cisco, eBay, Google, KIPP, Xerox, Zappos…and yours.
Adam Lashinsky is a senior editor at large for FORTUNE Magazine, where he covers Silicon Valley and Wall Street. Some of his cover-story subjects have included Apple, Hewlett-Packard and Google. He has written in-depth articles on Wells Fargo, Intel, Oracle, eBay, Twitter, and the venture-capital industry, as well as on topics ranging from San Francisco politics and oil-exploration technology to the post-Katrina economic recovery of New Orleans. In addition, Lashinsky is a Fox News Channel (FNC) contributor appearing on the following business shows: ”Bulls and Bears,” ”Cashin’ In,” “Cavuto on Business,” and “Your World with Neil Cavuto.” He is also the author of Inside Apple: How America’s Most Admired – and Secretive – Company Really Works, published by Business Plus (2012).
Prior to joining FORTUNE, Lashinsky was a columnist for The San Jose Mercury News and TheStreet. Before moving to California, he was a reporter and editor for Crain’s Chicago Business. As a Henry Luce Scholar, he worked for a year in Tokyo as a reporter for the Nikkei Weekly, the English-language version of Japan’s main economic daily. He began his career in the Washington, D.C., bureau of Crain Communications. A native of Chicago, Lashinsky earned a degree in history and political science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He lives in San Francisco with his wife and daughter.
Here is an excerpt from my interview of him. To read the complete interview, please click here.
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Morris: Before discussing Inside Apple, a few general questions. First, who has had the greatest influence on your personal growth? Please explain.
Lashinsky: It may sound corny, but my mother and father had the greatest influence. They got me started on a good path of loving to learn and instilling confidence in me. They both had a passion for words and ideas, and they also came from the school of parenting that supports their children in whatever it was they wanted to do. I don’t think they would have been pleased if I had chosen to be a beach bum. But they likely would have supported my decision to do it.
Morris: The greatest impact of your professional development?
Lashinsky: I’ve been blessed with great mentors and bosses for my entire career, which began in the summer of 1988 when I started writing opinion pieces for The Daily Illini at the University of Illinois in Urbana, Ill. My current boss, Andy Serwer, managing editor of Fortune Magazine, has been nothing but supportive and encouraging of me and my career at every turn. He is personally responsible for my turning my attention to Apple, beginning in 2008, which has changed the course of my career.
Morris: Years ago, was there a turning-point (if not an epiphany) that set you on the career course you continue to follow?
Lashinsky: Yes. In the summer between my junior and senior years at Illinois, where I was studying history and political science, I started contributing political columns to The Daily Illini, at the encouragement of my girlfriend at the time, who worked at the paper, and also became a professional journalist. I got a regular column in the fall term and fell in love with journalism. By the spring term of my senior year I was accepting any assignment I could in order to build up clips that I could show to prospective employers. I had been bitten by the journalism bug, and I have been enjoying the consequences ever since.
Morris: To what extent has your formal education in history and political science proven invaluable to what you have achieved thus far?
Lashinsky: History in particular gave me a good grounding in analytical thinking and gave me an ability to put important events in perspective. Whether or not the courses I took have benefited me directly, I can draw a straight line from my love of history to my interest in journalism as a career.
Morris: What are the most common misconceptions about the Silicon Valley culture? What, in fact, is true?
Lashinsky: It’s a misperception that everyone is stinking rich. Plenty of entrepreneurs fail. It’s true that failure is celebrated—or at least not stigmatized—in Silicon Valley. People truly take risks here, and that is exciting.
Morris: Of all that has changed in the business world during (let’s say) the last decade, which single development – in your opinion – has had the greatest impact? Please explain?
Lashinsky: Undoubtedly the Internet has constituted the biggest change. When I started in journalism we didn’t have email. We didn’t check Web sites. We didn’t have smartphones. Our entire mode of communicating has changed. And I’m not exactly ancient.
Morris: In your opinion, is launching a new company today more difficult, less difficult, or about the same as it was ten years ago? Please explain.
Lashinsky: Easier. But the precise dates you choose are relevant. It was extremely easy to start a company before 2001 because there was so much capital, and then difficult from 2001 to 2005 or so. But things are generally easier today because some of the building blocks of starting a company—computing power, storage capacity, software—have gotten anywhere from cheap to free.
Morris: Of all the U.S. presidents, which do you think was best qualified to be CEO of a “Fortune 50” company in the 21st century? Why?
Lashinsky: This question defies rational analysis, so instead I’ll go with a gut instinct and say Abraham Lincoln. Here’s why: Nothing in his background suggested he would be a great president, yet he was. He had a certain something, a magic, an instinct for what needed to be done. The great CEOs have this, and all the rest are less than great.
Morris: From your perspective as a journalist, what do you think will happen to (a) daily newspapers and (b) bound volumes?
Lashinsky: Newspapers eventually will go away. Which isn’t to say news will go away. We’ll have a painful and sad transition to whatever the digital product will look like—and then we’ll forget that we lamented their demise. If by bound volumes you mean books, I think essentially the same thing will happen, though books will survive longer because certain subjects—art, coffee table, kids—will lend themselves longer to the physical product.
Morris: What do you think will be the single greatest challenge that CEOs will face in (let’s say) the next 3-5 years? Any advice?
Lashinsky: Globalization means the importance of geographies changes more quickly than before. Just because a massive investment in China makes sense today doesn’t mean it will in five years. Advice: Subscribe to Fortune Magazine. We’ll do our best to keep you ahead of the curve.
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To read the complete interview, please click here.
Adam invites you to check out the resources at these websites:
How to locate, penetrate, and dominate in new markets or in new customer segments
Opinions are divided (sometimes sharply divided) about where and how to generate new revenue sources when competing in a global economy such as the current one, and especially when one’s resources are limited. W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne advocate what they characterize as a “blue ocean strategy,” one that will enable business leaders to “break out of the red ocean of bloody competition by creating uncontested market space that makes the competition irrelevant.” In Mark Johnson’s Seizing the White Space: Business Model Innovation for Growth and Renewal, the “white space” referred to in the book’s title “is the range of potential activities not defined or addressed by the company’s current business model, that is, the opportunities outside its core and beyond its adjacencies that require a different business model to exploit.” Advocates of these and other strategies stress the same objective: creating opportunities that others don’t.
That is essentially what Stephen Wunker also has in mind when sharing his own thoughts about how to locate, penetrate, and dominate in new markets or in new customer segments. As indicated in the Preface, he really does explore in detail “how the strategies that companies pursue in established industries often do not apply when markets are nascent. Indeed, many of the best strategies for new markets – targeting nonconsumers, entering narrowly, avoiding sales channels, and other key moves – at first can seem counterintuitive. For established firms, success in new markets may also require acting in unfamiliar and entrepreneurial ways.”
Rather than marinating his reader in theories, hypotheses, “what ifs,” and subjunctive speculation, Wunker concentrates on real-world situations, involving real business leaders of real companies, and suggests what lessons can be learned from them. These exemplar organizations include Apple, Craig’s List, eBay, Facebook, GE, Google, Monster.com, and Phillips. Throughout his lively and eloquent narrative, Wunker addresses maj0r business issues that include these:
o Why new markets matter
o How to find them and evaluate them
o How to assess “what doesn’t [as yet] exist”
o How to attract the first customers (sometimes early adopters)
o How to identify and evaluate various “paths” to market penetration
o When to initiate penetration and how to sustain it
o How to take full advantage of an emerging market’s potentialities
o How to create or strengthen a corporate competency while locating and exploiting a new market
o The nature and extent of government’s “catalytic role”
I especially appreciate Wunker’s makes skillful use of several reader-friendly devices such as a “The chapter covers…” section at the beginning of each chapter that serves as a head’s up; and then a “Summary” at the end of each chapter that will facilitate, indeed expedite frequent review key points later. Readers will also derive substantial benefit from various “Tables” and “Figures” that consolidate valuable information and are strategically located throughout the book. In Chapters 1-3 alone, they include “Economic transformation over five decades” (Page 6), “Most Valuable Companies in the United States and a Few of Their New Markets” (7), “Moving from Product Definition to Problem Definition” (27), “Monitoring New Factors for New Markets” (40), “Platforms beget platforms” (41), “Eight drivers of fast market growth” (61), and “Deconstructing the business model” (71).
This brief commentary can only begin to suggest the scope and depth of what Wunker shares. I know of no other single source that offers more and better advice on how to locate, penetrate, and dominate in new markets or in new customer segments. He concludes thusly: “New platforms, emerging consumers, and proliferating discontinuities are opening up countless new markets even as they threaten more established ones. The pace of change will not slow down. This is the time to act.” Of course, it remains for each reader and her or his associates to determine whether or not that initiative and consequent commitment are appropriate to the given organization. Stephen Wunker can assist with making that decision
“I believe that any problem can be solved with a picture. And that anybody can draw it.”
Dan Roam is the author of two international bestsellers, The Back of the Napkin: Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures and Unfolding the Napkin: The Hands-On Method for Solving Complex Problems with Simple Pictures, both published by Portfolio Trade, a Penguin imprint. The former was selected as Business Week and Fast Company’s best innovation book of the year, and was Amazon’s #5 selling business book of 2008. The Back of the Napkin has been published in 25 languages and is a bestseller in Japan, South Korea, and China. Portfolio also published his latest book, Blah Blah Blah: What To Do When Words Don’t Work (November, 2011) Roam has helped leaders at Microsoft, eBay, Google, Wal-Mart, Boeing, Lucas Fims, Gap, Kraft, Stanford University, The MIT Sloan School of Management, the US Navy, and the United States Senate solve complex problems through visual thinking. Dan and his whiteboard have appeared on CBS, CNN, MSNBC, ABC News, Fox News, and NPR. His visual explanation of American health care was selected by BusinessWeek as “The World’s Best Presentation of 2009″. This inspired the White House Office of Communications to invite him in for a discussion on visual problem solving.
Here is an excerpt from my second interview of Dan. To read the complete interview, please click here.
Morris: Before discussing Blah Blah Blah, a few general questions. First, for those who have not as yet read one or both of the “napkin” books, please explain why using relatively simple drawings can have great impact when we attempt to answer a question, solve a problem, persuade others to agree, or to express the essence of an important concept.
Roam: When we see an idea clearly illustrated right in front of us, much more of our mind lights up than if we were just talking about it. With simple and clear pictures, we see more, understand more, and share more than words alone ever could. As humans, we are essentially walking, talking “vision” machines. Three-quarters of all the sensory neurons in our brain are dedicated to processing vision, and in the first four months after we’re born almost all brain development in takes place in those areas that process vision and movement.
From the time we are infants, we know how important sight is to understanding the world around us and guiding us safely through it. What is a shame is how quickly we forget that once we enter school. We spend years perfecting the tools of spoken but we don’t spend two days learning to understand how we SEE. The essential point is this: if we really want someone to understand what we’re talking about, we should actually talk less – and draw more.
Morris: The hieroglyphics on cave walls pre-date the earliest attempts at a verbal language. So the insights you share in the two Napkin books have been common knowledge for at least several million years?
Roam: The oldest drawings ever found are located deep in the Chauvet Cave in south-central France. These paintings of horses, bison, and bulls date back 32,000 years. In the entire sweep of recorded human history, these beautiful images represent the beginning of the “whoosh.” We don’t know anything about the early humans that created these images, but we do know they could draw extremely well. These are the earliest markings ever made by humanity, and they are sketched more wonderfully than most of us could do today.
Morris: Relatively simple drawings can be a great resource for brain storming sessions because almost anyone can draw without possessing highly-developed drawing skills. However, what Tom Kelley characterizes as “ideation” [begin italics] does [end italics] require them. Don’t people have to have something worth communicating, first?
Roam: We all have ideas we believe are worth communicating, and we have them all the time – which is precisely why so many of us talk so much. Those ideas may not be fully developed, we may be uncertain of them, and they may be complex or controversial, but we typically have no shortage of them. And that is why drawing them out – even in the most crude circles-boxes-and-arrows manner – is such a great idea. Drawing out our thoughts forces us to clarify them, look at them from multiple perspectives, and think them through in a vibrant way.
Morris: Since the publication of the two Napkin books, presumably you have received a blizzard of feedback from those who read one or both of them. Of all that you have learned from what your readers have shared, what do you consider to be most valuable? Why?
Roam: I have received thousands of comments from readers over the past three years. The most frequent involve a reader sharing a moment of pictorial discovery, either in a meeting that was saved when someone went up to the whiteboard and drew the idea that clarified everything, or when they completed a difficult sale by drawing out the solution for all to see. Without a doubt, I have learned the most from readers who had never drawn and, thanks to my books, decided to give it a try. The sense of discovery and enthusiasm that permeates these notes illuminates visual possibilities that I had never considered myself. I always knew pictures made things clearer to me; it is electrifying to see how common that is even among people who never considered themselves “visual.”
Morris: From which sources did you learn the most about what the mind is and does, in general, and what the verbal and visual minds do, in particular?
Roam: I have read, studied, participated in, and discussed with experts three different approaches to understanding the mind. First, I took an academic approach to understanding the mind: in university I studied biology and I was fascinated with the evolutionary development of the human brain, and more recently I consulted with vision scientists and neurobiologists at leading universities. Second, I took an applied approach: I studied meditation for four weeks in a Thai monastery (including spending one week in silent isolation), I participated in cognitive behavioral therapy sessions to see how my mind reacted to various situations and I participated in extensive psychodynamic therapy sessions to try to see why. Third, I took an intuitive approach: I simply monitored myself in hundreds of business meetings and noted when I and other people seemed to be understanding each other and when we did not – and then noted what we were talking about and how we approached it.
Morris: What are the defining characteristics of “vivid thinking”
Roam: “Vivid Thinking” is a mnemonic. Vi-V-id stands for Visual-Verbal-Interdependent thinking. It is a simple idea that says we haven’t really thought through an idea until we have both talked about it and looked at it, and that we can’t really explain an idea until we can both write about it and draw it. Vivid thinking does not accept that an either/or verbal-vs-visual approach ever fully illuminates an idea; on the contrary Vivid Thinking demands that we must exercise both our verbal and visual minds in concert if we really wish to understand an idea. Talk + look; write +draw = Vivid.
Morris: By what process can vivid thinking be strengthened?
Roam: Like anything we do, Vivid Thinking becomes strengthened through practice. For all its successes, our educational system has in fact allowed us to become lazy thinkers. By relying almost entirely on our verbal mind, we have taught ourselves to shut our visual mind down and to denigrate its importance. My goal in “Blah-Blah-Blah” is to introduce a set of simple tools and rules that reawaken our visual mind and kick it back into gear.
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Here is an excerpt from my second interview of Dan. To read the complete interview, please click here.
He cordially invites you to check out the resources at these websites:
I also urge you to check out these videos:
Dan Roam is the author of two international bestsellers, The Back of the Napkin: Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures and Unfolding the Napkin: The Hands-On Method for Solving Complex Problems with Simple Pictures, both published by Portfolio Trade, a Penguin imprint. The former was selected as BusinessWeek and Fast Company’s best innovation book of the year, and Amazon’s #5 selling business book. The Back of the Napkin has been published in 25 languages and is a bestseller in Japan, South Korea, and China. His latest book is Blah-Blah-Blah: What To Do When Words Don’t Work, also published by Portfolio/Penguin Group (November, 2011).
Roam has helped leaders at Microsoft, eBay, Google, Wal-Mart, Boeing, Lucas Film, Gap, Kraft, Stanford University, The MIT Sloan School of Management, the US Navy, and the United States Senate solve complex problems through visual thinking. Dan and his whiteboard have been featured on CNN, MSNBC, ABC News, Fox News, and NPR. His visual explanation of American health care was selected by Business Week as “The World’s Best Presentation of 2009″. This inspired the White House Office of Communications to invite him in for a discussion on visual problem solving.
Roam is the founder of Digital Roam Inc, a management consulting company that helps business executives solve complex problems through visual thinking. Through lectures, workshops, books, and hands-on projects with many of the world’s most influential organizations, He as helped teams learn to solve complex problems by relearning how to see after discovering the power of pictures as a business problem-solving tool in the 1990′s when he founded the first marketing communications company in what was then the Soviet Union. With no Russian language skills, he quickly realized that his business pictures transcended the language barrier. Since that eye-opening experience, Dan has been fine-tuning the visual thinking tools he introduces in his books.
Roam received two degrees at the University of California, Santa Cruz: fine art and biology. This combination of art and science kicked off Dan’s cross-disciplinary approach to problem solving. Dan is a licensed pilot, a skill that demands constant practice in understanding complex visual information displays. He has applied his business-oriented visual thinking skills while working in Switzerland, Russia, Thailand, France, Holland, and the US. He lives in San Francisco.
Note: Here is an excerpt from my first interview of Dan Roam. To read the complete interview, please click here. There will be a second interview in conjunction with the publication of his new book, Blah-Blah-Blah, in November.
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Morris: Before discussing any of your specific books, a few general questions. First, to what extent (if any) have you had any formal training in the creative arts such as painting, drawing, and sculpting?
Roam: I have drawn all my life. My earliest memories are of drawing pictures on my parents’ kitchen table. In school I attended the same basic art classes as everyone else. But while I showed talent and loved drawing, I didn’t like the way art was taught. It was too wishy-washy; too much about “being creative” and “expressing myself” at the expense of actually learning anything.
By the time I entered the University of California at Santa Cruz, I had no interest in pursuing art. I signed up for the Pre-Med track and studied biology, chemistry, physics, and environmental studies. But in my junior year at the university, two events occurred which were to have a profound impact on my perception of “creativity.”
The first was that I unexpectedly fell in love with organic chemistry; it turned out to be completely visual. Remember those plastic “ball and stick” models of molecules? I spent hours building shapes with them, and excelled at chemistry. The second was that I discovered that “art” could be taught as a rigorous discipline with rules and tools. Those rules had nothing to do with applying paint; they were about how people THINK — and that was exactly what I was looking for. Before long, I realized that painting was every bit as intellectually challenging as science and that the same fundamental ways of thinking applied to both.
In the end, I extended my undergraduate career by another year so that I could complete degrees in both biology and painting. I never went on to medical school, instead finding my call helping businesspeople see for themselves the connections between planning, science, finance, communications, and “art”.
Morris: I have a large family and Pictionary is one of our favorite games to play. One son is a highly-renowned professional illustrator. (He created the illustration for the homepage of my website.) Whenever we play, his team never wins because his drawings are elaborate and consume so much time. I thought about that as I read your two books. Chip and Dan Heath assert that the “stickiest” ideas are always the simplest. Why is it also true that, when communicating ideas, the simplest drawings (i.e. those involving circles, squares, arrows, and stick figures) are most effective?
Roam: Without a doubt, the simplest, fastest drawings are the most effective for communicating an idea. I understand well your son’s Pictionary challenge; I suffered the same fate as I always tried to make my drawings “better”, inevitably destroying their essential character along the way. Now I realize that I’ve actually spent the last thirty years learning how to “draw badly really well.”
Morris: With all due respect to your response to the previous question, I think one of the greatest benefits of your approach to communication is that it requires people to have a solid, crystal clear understanding of what they want to communicate and how they plan to organize their ideas before they begin to draw. Is that a fair assessment?
Roam: I believe that we do not truly know something until we can clearly explain it to someone else – and the younger the person we can explain it to, the better we know it. I’m not alone in this belief, of course. Einstein himself said, “All physical theories, their mathematical expressions notwithstanding, ought to lend themselves to so simple a description that even a child could understand them.” Since an effective picture of an idea must by definition account for the essentials, being able to draw a simple picture of your idea is just about the best test I can think of to prove that you really do understand it yourself. It’s far harder to fake a simple picture than it is a wordy essay. The picture you create is your mind standing there for all to see, unprotected by verbiage. If you can’t draw it, you don’t get it.
Morris: The creative and performing arts are often referred to as “international languages.” Having lived and worked in so many different countries, have you found that to be true?
Roam: The creative and performing arts clearly transcend language and cultural barriers, which is what makes painting and music in particular so enchanting regardless of origin. But the cognitive power of what we call “art” goes far deeper than that. When I first moved to Moscow in 1990, it was still the days of the Soviet Union. Here I suddenly found myself in a strange land, surrounded by people whose language I didn’t understand – and I was supposed to be running an advertising agency! That was crazy: in those days it was still illegal to earn a profit. In that environment, nobody – not my colleagues, employees, or clients – had a clue what “business planning” was. It was drawings that saved the day. I found that if I could map out an idea graphically (what is “profit,” for example, and why it might be a good thing), then we could begin to understand each other.
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To read the complete interview, please click here.
You cordially invited to visit these websites:
I also urge you to check out these videos:
Here is an excerpt from an article written by Jeffrey Pfeffer for the Harvard Business Review blog. To read the complete article, check out other articles and resources, and/or sign up for a free subscription to Harvard Business Review’s Daily Alerts, please click here.
Although women now attend college at a higher rate than men, and have for the most part closed the gap in achieving advanced and professional degrees, women are not occupying the real power positions in corporations, academia, or the professions in anywhere near the same proportions as men. Catalyst, among many other organizations, bemoans this reality. The fact of the underrepresentation of women at the top begs the question of why. One part of the answer is women’s reluctance to embrace power.
The evidence shows that women are less power-oriented than men. Women have more negative attitudes toward holding power, they are less likely to pursue power-based influence strategies, they are more bothered by and disfavor hierarchical relationships, they are less motivated to dominate others, and they are less likely to take actions to attain power. Moreover, in situations such as salary negotiations, studies show that women often believe that they deserve less than similarly qualified men and are, as a consequence, likely to demand less and to press their salary demands with less vigor.
Women bank too much on likeability. To be sure, people in general overestimate the importance to their influence of being well-liked, and underestimate the effectiveness of displaying anger, but women seem to be more susceptible to these beliefs than men. And while men, too, are sometimes uncomfortable with the actions required to attain power — building relationships with useful others, displaying confidence, engaging in self-promotion, being willing to work long hours — women, as a rule, tend to be less willing to make the trade-offs required to attain positions of power. As a consequence, many women, including talented graduates of MBA programs, reach a point several years into their careers where they decide the compromise isn’t worth it, and drop out of the quest for power.
Two implications follow.
First, women must make more of what they see as trade-offs. Everyone, men and women, must make certain sacrifices to achieve power and career success. If women want to achieve power at the same rate as men, they will need to be willing to make difficult choices, whether by forgoing family for work or choosing a partner in part on the basis of whether that individual will be supportive of their power quest (“strategic marriage,” as a former student of mine put it). Second, women need to get tougher. It’s true that women tend to be perceived more negatively and be less liked when they use the same power strategies as men. (This is an unfair reality that Alice Eagly has referred to as “the double bind.”) But there is little evidence to suggest that those strategies aren’t just as effective for women.
Carly Fiorina reached the CEO position at Hewlett-Packard because throughout her career, she was willing to market herself. Although Meg Whitman at eBay presents a kinder exterior image, people who crossed her suffered consequences. No one who witnessed former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher aggressively holding her own in a media interview could doubt her confidence and refusal to back down from a conflict — or could question where her nickname, “the Iron Lady,” came from.
Although we might wish that the rules for attaining power were different, or different for women, they aren’t. There’s no question that women are as qualified as men to hold positions of power. I would argue that we need them to do so. The question is: when will they step up to the pursuit of power, vigorously and strategically?
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To read the complete article, check out other articles and resources, and/or sign up for a free subscription to Harvard Business Review’s Daily Alerts, please click here.
Jeffrey Pfeffer is the Thomas D. Dee II Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Graduate School of Business, Stanford University, where he has taught since 1979. His forthcoming book from HarperBusiness is Power: Why Some People Have It and Others Don’t.
Adam Bryant conducts interviews of senior-level executives that appear in his “Corner Office” column each week in the SundayBusiness section of The New York Times. Here are a few insights provided during this interview with Dawn Lepore, chairwoman and chief executive of Drugstore.com, was conducted and condensed by Adam Bryant. Ms. Lepore is also a director of eBay and The New York Times Company. To read the complete interview, click here.
Bryant: Do you remember the first time you were somebody’s boss?
Lepore: I was hired at Schwab in 1983 to be the manager of the information center. The person who wanted the job was way more technical than me, and that was the reason he didn’t get the job. He was in love with the technology — I wasn’t. He was not happy about having me come in over him. And he said, O.K., you’re so smart — let’s see you do it.
Those were the days when the computers were shipped in, and they were not all put together. So you’d get these little chips, and you have to put them in the motherboard. And so he said, “Well, there’s a shipment here for you.”
So I go to the dock and there are all these boxes with computers in them. I put together 30 computers. After the guy saw me do that, at least I had a little bit of his respect, and we went on to have an O.K. relationship.
Bryant: What was the lesson for you?
Lepore: Every time you take on a new role, building credibility is incredibly important. I don’t think you do it by being smarter than everybody else or knowing more necessarily than everybody else. I think you do it by rolling up your sleeves, by showing commitment, by proving that you’re willing to learn, by asking for help.
Bryant: Other key moments like that?
Lepore: My biggest promotion was moving into the head technology role at Schwab. It’s an important job at Schwab; it reports to the C.E.O. I was 39, and it was very unusual to be a woman running technology. I remember the person who promoted me said that he had several board members call him and say: “Why did you do that? That was a really dumb decision, putting a woman in charge of technology.”
Bryant: Just because you were a woman?
Lepore: There were no women C.I.O.’s back then. And I don’t have an M.B.A.; I didn’t have a computer science degree. I have a music major. It’s a very unusual profile to be in that position. The reason I got the job was that I took on really tough assignments, things nobody wanted, things that people thought were kind of impossible or thankless tasks. So I proved that I could take on things I didn’t know, and learn. I was willing to take risks, and I’ve always been a good synthesizer. And I was good at building relationships across the company.
Bryant: So how did the transition go?
Lepore: The first year or 18 months were rough. I found out later that people were calling me the Ice Queen. And I was devastated. But it’s because I felt like I had to be perfect — I couldn’t show any vulnerability.
I had a boss at the time who called me and said: “You know, I really believe in you. I gave you this job, I want you in this job, I really believe in you. You have to get better, though. You have to hire a coach, you have to improve, here are the things you have to do.”
But just having him tell me, I really believe in you, I want you in this job, it made me relax. It was like, O.K., I’m not going to get fired. He’s going to give me a chance to learn on the job and so now I’m going to be a little bit more open and be willing to ask for help.
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To read several of Bryant’s more recent interviews of other executives, please click here.
Do not be misled by the reference to “corporation” in the title. What Barbara Bund provides in this book can be of substantial value to decision-makers in any organization (regardless of size or nature) which has an urgent need to achieve “breakthrough results” by gaining a much better understanding of — and then becoming much closer to — those of greatest importance to its success. Thus, healthcare providers would think in terms of becoming patient-centric, trade and professional associations (e.g. chambers of commerce) would think in terms of becoming member-centric, etc.
As she explains in the Preface, “The primary objective of this book is to help business managers use [her various] insights effectively in practice. It is to share the outside-in discipline — to provide a road map for managers to follow in creating and leading outside-in corporations, even in organizations where the unfortunate inside-out perspective has prevailed in the past.” (page xviii)
Bund carefully organizes her material within 13 chapters which begin with a probing analysis of “the bad habit of inside-out thinking” and conclude with a summation of “the bad news and the good news” followed by provision of four additional “outside-in tools” and then a recommended process to establish and then sustain an “outside-in discipline.” I especially appreciate the fact that Bund provides recommended “Outside-In Actions” at the end of each chapter. These sections reiterate key points, of course, but they can also serve as invaluable self-audits if completed with appropriate rigor and (yes) candor.
“The most important thing about this definition [of strategy based on a marketing mix of product, price, communication, and distribution] is that it requires that the strategic tools must be chosen to address the needs of one or more market segments. There must be a clear customer foundation, based on customer needs and behavior. In addition, the components of the strategy must fit with one another and work together; they must be consistent and coordinated.” In this volume, Bund cites a number of exemplary organizations (e.g. Costco, Dell, eBay, FedEx, and GE) that “have an explicit customer-based reason for everything [they] do in the marketplace.” Guided and informed by the outside-in discipline, they have better strategy design, better communication of strategy to others, and better ability to adapt when there are changes in the competitive marketplace. They have achieved breakthrough results because they understand, really understand why their customers are “the key.”
To repeat, I think this book can be of almost incalculable value to decision-makers in almost any organization (regardless of size or nature) if — huge “if” — they make and then sustain a total commitment to becoming and then remaining customer-centric. Of course that won’t be easy. Barriers must be overcome. One of the worst is what Jim O’Toole once characterized as “the ideology of comfort and the tyranny of custom.” Hence the importance of Bund’s counsel. The game plan she recommends is cohesive, comprehensive, and cost-effective. Certain modifications of that plan will be necessary, of course, but the outside-in discipline must never be compromised. At least some organizations will achieve breakthrough results this year. Why not yours?
As Anna Bernasek suggests in the Introduction, “If we ignore the important ways that people cooperate to create wealth, we miss the most valuable source of wealth creation imaginable. Recognizing the true value of relationships, we can build stronger relationships and create and share greater wealth. It’s a powerful way to reinvigorate the economy.” With regard to this specific book, she explains, it is a tool kit “for creating integrity anywhere in the economy. When policy makers are thinking about changing health care, reforming the tax system, or improving the financial system, they can use these tools to systematically build value. I encourage readers to see that integrity unlocks enormous opportunities for wealth creation that we may not yet imagine.”
Throughout her lively and eloquent narrative, Bernasek examines a number of situations in which everyone involved benefits because they do what is right and do it right, who abide by rules that “set people free to do the right thing, rather than holding people back,” rules and values that encourage activity and create more wealth. What is required to deliver a gallon of milk offers a case in point. Here’s the supply chain: farmer (serviced by feed supplier, co-up, vet, hoof trimmer, and nutritionist) > milk hauler > second driver > milk plant > distributor > store > consumer. Prior to point of sale, everyone involved must be both worthy of trust (i.e. honest, following the rules, being careful on the job) and trusted by everyone else. These relationships of trust throughout the process require an integrity that produces value for everyone involved.
The other examples that Bernasek examines include the ATM value and supply chain, what the Federal Reserve is and does, Toyota’s production system (whose integrity has recently been rigorously questioned), L.L. Bean’s total trust in its customers, W.L. Gore & Associates obsession with quality, and eBay that provides a mini-case study of mutual trust within a multi-dimensional structure. When eBay was launched, its backbone was a feedback that subsequently underwent several modifications. “Users if eBay get feedback on how they conduct themselves from other users. This was critical for two reasons. First, the feedback system provided users with an incentive to behave well.” Misbehave and you cannot be associated with Ebay. “Second, the feedback system effectively brought everything out into the open.” In terms of behavior lacking integrity, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas said it best:
“Nowhere to run to, baby
Nowhere to hide
Got nowhere to run to, baby
Nowhere to hide”
I agree with Bernasek that the potential ROI from a commitment to personal integrity will be substantial for an individual and even greater in direct proportion to the number of people who share a commitment to collective integrity. The potential applications and benefits of the principles that Anna Bernasek affirms are unlimited. I share her hope that our nation will adopt the economics of integrity even as I fear that the “legions of entrenched interests eager to protect their turf,” seeking its own advantage through special pleading and sophisticated public relations,” will once again prevail. How can we expect them to demonstrate integrity when they do not possess it?
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Women CEOs: Why So Few?
Herminia Ibarra and Morten T. Hansen
Editor’s note: Check out the Top 100 CEOs slideshow created by these authors, please visit http://hbr.org/web/extras/100ceos/1-jobs.
When we studied the leadership of 2,000 of the world’s top performing companies, we found only 29 (1.5%) of those CEOs were women, an even smaller percentage ime, presumably because long-term growth depends on deep industry- and firm-specific knowledge. Do top women have to go outside to move up? Our results suggest women are less likely to emerge as winners in their own companies’ internal CEO tournament.
is Remarkably, this paltry showing by females actually represents some progress. A decade ago only three women headed large public companies in the US; today 15 make the Fortune 500 list. With many of today’s female chief executives of public companies appointed only in the last few years, women have had little time to build their legacies. Of our list of 29, 19 of the women were appointed on or after 2002.
A common explanation for so few women reaching the top is the “glass cliff” theory, whereby women are more likely than men to be appointed to top jobs in poorly performing companies. This was not true in our data: women were no more likely than men to be named CEO in times of tumbling share prices. Moreover, the best performers in our study, male and female, were precisely those who took over troubled firms. Witness Kate Swann, who achieved an impressive turnaround of WH Smith by focusing the troubled bookseller on airport and railway stores.
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Ibarra is the Cora Chaired Professor of Leadership and Learning, Professor of Organizational Behavior, Faculty Director of the INSEAD Leadership Initiative and a member of the INSEAD Board. She received her M.A. and Ph.D. from Yale University, where she was a National Science Fellow. Prior to joining INSEAD she served on the Harvard Business School faculty for thirteen years. She is a member of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Councils and the Visiting Committee of the Harvard Business School. Hansen is Professor in Entrepreneurship at INSEAD and also at the University of California, Berkeley. Prior to INSEAD, he was a professor at Harvard Business School, Harvard University, for a number of years. His new management book is Collaboration: How Leaders Avoid the Traps, Create Unity, and Reap Big Results, published by Harvard Business Press.
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