I hope that at least a few of these recent posts will be of interest to you:
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Bob Garfield and Doug Levy
The Future Arrived Yesterday: The Rise of the Protean Corporation and What It Means for You
It’s Always Personal: Navigating Emotion in the New Workplace
Spreadable Media: Creating Value and Meaning in a Networked Culture
Henry Jenkins, Sam Ford, and Joshua Green
Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think
Viktor Mayer-Schonberger and Kenneth Cukier
Ilene Gordon (Ingredion) in “The Corner Office”
The New York Times
An Interview of Columbia Business School Dean Glenn Hubbard
“To Become More Adaptable, Take a Lesson from Biology”
“Sheryl Sanberg’s Manifesto”
“Out of the Mouths of Babes”: Part 2
The first step to brain mastery””
“Lean In: Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg Explains What’s Holding Women Back”
“Brain Plasticity: How learning changes your brain”
John Hagel III and John Seely Brown on
Deloitte University Press
“TIME Magazine’s All-Time Top 10 Commencement Speeches”
“How to Make Emotional Connections with Your Employees
Management Tip of the Day
“The Perils of Preaching to Children”
“The Case for Stealth Innovation”
Paddy Miller and Thomas Wedell-Wedellsborg
“How to Create a Culture In Which Female Leaders Can Thrive”
“Out of the Mouths of Babes”: Part 2
“Find a rocket ship and ride it.”
“The value of sportsmanship in business”
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Achim Nowak is an internationally recognized authority on executive presence and interpersonal connections. His just-published book Infectious: How to Connect Deeply and Unleash the Energetic Leader Within (Allworth Press) has already received acclaim in Fast Company, Entrepreneur, Leadership Excellence, and Forbes. His first book Power Speaking: The Art of the Exceptional Public Speaker has becomes an essential leadership development tool with Fortune 500 companies around the world.
Influens, the international training and coaching firm Achim founded in 2004, is based in South Florida. It has guided thousands of leaders from organizations such as Sanofi, Dover Corporation, HSBC Bank, and Blue Cross/Blue Shield to better connect and be more influential.
Achim holds an M.A. in Organizational Psychology and International Relations from New York University. He served for over a decade on the faculty of New York University and has been a frequent guest speaker at other universities and industry events. Achim and his work have also been featured on 60 Minutes, The Today Show, NPR, and CNN.
Here is an excerpt from my interview of him. To read the complete interview, please click here.
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Morris: Before discussing Infectious, a few general questions and then a few others about high-impact communication. First, who has had the greatest impact on your professional development? How so?
Nowak: In 1992 I was trained at the Brooklyn Courts to become a mediator. Mediators are highly skilled at shaping the flow of a conversation and using language with strategic precision. The skill sets – validating, paraphrasing, reflecting feelings, identifying underlying issues, speaking in neutral – are priceless. These skills instantly elevated the quality of the conversations I was having, anywhere. They should be required study for any business leader!
Morris: Years ago, was there a turning point (if not an epiphany) that set you on the career course you continue to follow? Please explain.
Nowak: I spent six weeks in the late 1980s at a retreat in the Arizona desert. I had never done anything like this before. I had never just stopped to take a look at myself – I was your classic results-driven alpha male. The retreat center sat atop an old Anasazi burial mound. The Anasazi spirit energy was electric. I soon had daily visits from power animals. In one very long night I had repeated visions of a white house on an island, overlooking a sparkling dark blue ocean. I knew instantly that this house was not a metaphor, it was a real place. Six months later I had left my life as a theatre director in New York City and was living in a small white house on the island of Tobago, overlooking the Atlantic. This was the first time in my life that I listened to deep inner guidance and followed suit – even though at no time prior had I ever had a yearning for island life. This was the start of my journey into a life and career that looks different from anything I might have envisioned for myself.
Morris: To what extent has your formal education been invaluable to what you have accomplished in life thus far?
Nowak: My formal education has been marginally valuable, at best. There are great minds whose work I cherish – Peter Drucker, Daniel Goleman – and I greatly believe in continuous learning, but my most meaningful lessons happened while working in the trenches: Doing transformational work in North-American AIDS communities, facilitating co-existence dialogues in countries that are at war – and in every one-on-one coaching conversation I have with a C-level leader!
Morris: From which business book have you learned the most valuable lessons about business? Please explain.
Nowak: FLOW by Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi is my favorite book about business – and life. Distinctions between business and non-business are often artificial since we tend to spend more time at work than we do in our non-business life. The common denominator between both is that we are in constant relationship with others. Csikszentmihalyi’s insights about how we attain peak performance, and how our engagement in peak performance leads to a state of flow, are instantly relevant, in all parts of life. I recommend to everyone.
Morris: Here’s one of my favorite quotations from Oscar Wilde to which I ask you to respond: “Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.”
Nowak: There are tantalizing questions behind this clever quip. Do I know who I am? Is this knowledge of who I am growing and changing over time? (Yes – I hope!) And most importantly – which parts of myself do I choose to reveal in public? The ability to be myself at all times and make enlightened choices about how I show up – that’s the mark of a mature leader.
Morris: Here’s a brief excerpt from Paul Schoemaker’s latest book, Brilliant Mistakes: “The key question companies need to address is not ‘Should we make mistakes?’ but rather ‘Which [end mistakes should we make in order to test our deeply held assumptions?’” Your response?
Nowak: I love the title of this book – Brilliant Mistakes. I tend to be a risk-taker, and the moment we take risks we will make mistakes. Only when we test deeply-held assumptions do we get to the unknown – which is a world that we, by definition, do not know before we know it. How many mistakes we can tolerate, well, that’s the personal frontier everyone one of us needs to explore. I’m thinking of a few situations in my life just recently where I feel like I pressed for results a little too hard. My job is to learn from that experience. Were my actions mistakes? It’s up to me to decide how I frame it up for myself, isn’t it? It always boils down to assuming responsibility for my actions without beating myself up for having taken a risk. That’s my personal bottom-line.:
Morris: In your opinion, why do so many C-level executives seem to have such a difficult time delegating work to others?
Nowak: My experience doesn’t entirely match your statement. I know quite a few C-level executives who do know how to delegate. The key, of course, for all C-Level executives is to be secure enough to surround themselves with amazing talent – and to let this talent shine. Part of letting the talent shine is having real, tough, challenging conversations when everyone meets in person, without ever denigrating the brilliance of others. And, of course, there has to be the willingness to let go of those who do not wish to play your game or support your vision.
Morris: The greatest leaders throughout history (with rare exception) were great storytellers. What do you make of that?
Nowak: They’re smart. Well-told stories tap into our deepest yearnings and desires. They stir us. Leaders who are unable to stir folks, especially in a democracy, simply will not get elected. Because we know that stories work, every modern politician these days has been coached on telling stories. The key now is to move from the easy and predictable stories – rags-to-riches, immigrant-to-success – and tell stories that involve taking a true personal risk in the telling. Stories that are mere marketing clichés come across as mere marketing clichés. They fail to stir!
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To read the complete interview, please click here.
Achim cordially invites you to check out the resources at these websites:
The Strategy Book
Adaptability: The Art of Winning in an Age of Uncertainty
Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative
Found in Translation: How Language Shapes Our Lives and Transforms the World
Nataly Kelly and Jost Zetzsche
Max Mckeown (Agility)
John Perry (The Art of Procrastination)
Kevin Allen (The Hidden Agenda)
“How to Make Sure You’re Solving the Right Problem”
HBR‘s Management Tip of the Day
“Why It’s Time to Rethink Recruitment”
“New Research on Working Parenthood: Men Are More Egalitarian, Women are More Realistic”
Harvard Business Review
“You Don’t Have To Be Loud to Lead”
“How Business Schools Can Teach ‘Character 101′”
“Deconstructing Executive Presence”
Harvard Business Review
“How to become more strategic: Three tips for any executive”
Michael Birshan and Jayanti Kar
The McKinsey Quarterly
“The Imperfect Balance Between Work and Life”
Rosabeth Moss Kanter
Harvard Business Review
“Organizational health: The ultimate competitive advantage”
Scott Keller and Colin Price
The McKinsey Quarterly
You can check out these and all the other content by clicking here.
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Jane Edison Stevenson is Vice Chairman, Board & CEO Services at Korn/Ferry International, where she co-leads the firm’s Global CEO Succession Practice. She is located in Korn/Ferry’s New York and Atlanta offices. Previous to Korn/Ferry, she spent a decade as Global Managing Partner with another global leadership advisory firm and prior to that, helped to build several boutique search firms into competitive brands.
Ms Stevenson is known for her strong global relationships in Fortune 500 C-suites, and among boards of directors. She has been recognized by BusinessWeek as one of the “100 Most Influential Search Consultants in the World,” and is frequently consulted by Fortune, Forbes, BusinessWeek, and The Wall Street Journal to discuss trends and issues related to governance and innovation.
With her co-author Bilal Kaafarani, Ms. Stevenson wrote business bestseller Breaking Away: How Great Leaders Create Innovation that Drives Sustainable Growth, and Why Others Fail. Breaking Away was released by McGraw Hill last spring and defines the world’s first innovation framework, linking the importance of innovation, leadership and growth. In addition to the USA, Canada and the UK, the book was just published in Turkey, and will be coming out in China this fall.
Here is an excerpt from my interview of her. To read the complete interview, please click here.
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Morris: Before discussing Breaking Away, a few general questions. First, who has had the greatest influence on your personal growth?
Stevenson: Probably my father, John D. Edison. He is the most selfless person I know, and early on, he taught me two profound lessons: happiness is a decision, and life is a series of trade-offs – always understand what you are trading for what you are getting. He also taught me that to keep growing you have to “get comfortable being uncomfortable.” He is 75 years old now, and is still evolving and growing every year. For example, he just published his first book a few months ago, God: Grace and Deception.
Morris: The greatest impact on your professional development
Stevenson: That is a tough question. I have been blessed to work with many great people, who have both impacted and inspired me.
• My first boss in the executive search profession, Gerry Reynolds not only saw my potential, he also helped me to believe in myself.
• My friend and mentor Gerry Roche, encouraged me to develop high trust relationships that bleed from professional to personal.
• There are a number of top women whose friendship and counsel has had a profound impact on me as we have shared our journeys. In particular I would mention Adrienne Fontanella, Angela Ahrendts, Judith Glaser, Cynthia McCague, and Melanie Kusin, but there are numerous others as well.
• My co-author Bilal Kaafarani has been a key partner in my current journey, challenging my thinking and providing key insights for the future. He convinced me that we needed to write Breaking Away, to share our experience “in the trenches of innovation leadership” with others.
Partnering to develop and share the Breaking Away innovation framework has forever changed my outlook on the future.
Morris: Years ago, was there a turning point (if not an epiphany) that set you on the career course that you continue to follow?
Stevenson: The epiphany that comes to mind happened shortly after my son was born 14 years ago. I can still see the room I was in and how the sun fell on the floor around me at the moment I realized I might never get over my insecurities, and that I was going to have to decide whether I would allow them to define my life, or whether I would decide to “play full out” anyway. I decided to play full out. That decision has empowered me to take on many new challenges, like writing a book on the importance of innovation leadership and sharing a framework that can open up new possibilities for today’s leaders.
Morris: To what extent has your formal education proven to be invaluable to what you have accomplished in your life thus far?
Stevenson: Your question makes me laugh because, in matter of fact, my undergraduate education was in elementary education. Apart from my practicum teaching for six months, I never taught a day in my life, as I was immediately drafted into administration and leadership. That said, perhaps the most valuable gift of formal education is to teach us how to learn and to stay open to new truths and insights. In that case, my formal education has definitely served me well.
Morris: What are some of the most common misconceptions about executive search that in fact is true?
Stevenson: The most common misconception is that we are trying to find jobs for people, when, in fact, we are hired by the corporation to ensure that they make the best leadership selection (from either inside or outside the company) for the role at hand.
Morris: When interviewing candidates for C-level positions, which tend to reveal the most valuable information, the questions they ask or the answers they offer in respond to the questions asked of them? Please explain.
Stevenson: Both. Interviewing C-level executives is as much about learning who they are as people as it is about what they have accomplished. The questions they ask give us important insights into the way they think about things and what their priorities are. Their questions can give us a good sense about their motivators as well. Both in asking questions and in hearing the questions that are asked, our job is to understand whether the fit is one that will have the strongest odds for success. The more we can get behind a candidates questions and answers, to understand his/her value system, motivators, ambition and ability, the better job we will do of assessing whether there is a good fit.
Morris: Percentages vary somewhat but the results of dozens of major research studies suggest that during face-to-face contact, about 80-85% of the impact is determined by body language and tone of voice. What are your thoughts about that?
Stevenson: Communication is achieved through a combination of things: choice of words, affect, body language, tone of voice, choice of dress, and last, but not least, how they shake hands. You can learn a lot about someone based on a handshake. I’m not sure I could put a precise percentage on each factor, but I will say that I am more interested in intuiting “who” the person is than I am about the words alone.
Morris: In your opinion, what is the single greatest challenge that CEOs will face during the next 3-5 years? Any advice?
Stevenson: Actually, I think there are two: the changing “rules of engagement” to capture the hearts and minds of your customers in a digitally-driven world, and the desperate need for innovation and growth. In some ways, I think the two are intertwined. We live in an age of unprecedented access, interaction and connectivity. The question is: How will you use that to your company’s advantage? How will you be the beneficiary of the digital revolution, instead of having it define you? This is a big question for companies in all industry sectors. One of my friends refers to it as learning to “speak social”. The speed at which things are changing is directly influenced by new levels of access and interactivity. This creates a natural tendency for us to speed up, moving faster and faster and faster….Not a good move. The best thing you can do is to stop, look and listen, then assess what will drive the most productive and strategic results and play there.
The ability to step back and understand how to use these new “rules of engagement” to advantage, will require innovation, and will create opportunities for growth. Advice? The secret weapon will always be your people. The CEO’s who understand the power of people, and who are committed to fully utilizing people’s diverse capabilities, will ultimately win the race.
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To read the complete interview, please click here.
Jane cordially invites you to check out the resources at these websites