Without mutual respect and trust, “communication” is BLAH BLAH BLAH
Two of the greatest (of many) benefits of the World Wide Web originally envisioned by Tim Berners-Lee are that those who are connected with it can then connect with anyone or anything else also online, anywhere, anytime…and then when the connection is made, interact with each other.
As in all of John Maxell’s several dozen other books, he provides an abundance of information, insights, and counsel in this one that will help his reader to communicate more effectively by connecting more extensively. Specifically, Maxwell explains how becoming a Connector will help to achieve strategic objectives that include these:
o Enhance visibility and increase influence
o Serve the best interests of others as well as those of one’s society
o “Talk the talk”…and then walk it
o Renew energy sources
o Master skills to complement natural talent
o Locate common ground, mutual interests, and shared values
o Follow Albert Einstein’s admonition, “Make everything as simple as possible but no simpler”
o Create shared experience that everyone enjoys
o Inspire others
o Ensure alignment of affirmations with actions
As I began to read this book, I was reminded of passages in Maribeth Kuzmeski’s The Connectors: How the World’s Most Successful Businesspeople Build Relationships and Win Clients for Life. The examples she cites indicate that almost anyone can establish and then sustain mutually beneficial relationships within and beyond the workplace. She asserts that “true connections” between and among people must be made and then sustained with feeling and purpose and honesty. Bill George would invoke the term “authentic,” insisting that it is imperative to be true to one’s self (to one’s True North) as well as to others.
These comments who wholly consistent with the observations and values that Maxwell shares in his book as he explains the defining characteristics of High, Average, and Low Achievers before shifting his attention to explaining how to connect with people at all levels, connect one-on-one, and connect with an audience. He devotes Part II (Chapters 6-10) to explaining in detail how to become a Connector and then, hopefully, help others to complete the same process.
Again, I want to stress how much importance Maxwell places on personal integrity. Some of the most despicable leaders throughout history were – at least for a time – highly effective Connectors. They attracted huge numbers of followers who were enthralled by their charm (i.e. “charisma”) and presence as well as by their eloquence.
The leadership that John Maxwell advocates does not preclude any of these qualities. Indeed, Jesus of Nazareth, Abraham Lincoln, Mohandas Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and Martin Luther King, Jr. possessed them. However, Maxwell insists that the values great leaders affirm are the same that determine their behavior, that they are committed to what Robert Greenleaf once characterized as “servant leadership.” Principled behavior always communicates more and more effectively than words do.
An authority on leadership and a renowned innovator, Dr. Peter Jensen is a pioneer in bringing the concepts of coaching and personal high performance to corporations worldwide. Jensen has worked with the best and brightest in Fortune 500 companies in eight countries applying his extensive understanding and realistic practices to the art of leadership. He knows firsthand what it takes to get the best out of people.
Peter has attended seven Olympics, assisting athletes and coaches in winning over 50 Olympic medals. His work with athletes provides an amazing laboratory in which to both observe and practice how to support and develop people who truly are striving to reach their potential while learning to manage intense pressure and high expectations.
Also a top rated instructor at Queen’s School of Business he combines a potent understanding of the fundamentals of effective leadership with new ideas and ongoing insights from Olympic coaches and athletes. He has a unique ability to bring practical clarity to complex concepts by illustrating their tangible application in the business world, and the power to invigorate audiences through his compelling use of humor, and personal experiences.
Jensen is the author of the best-selling book The Inside Edge, a powerful roadmap for using the mental preparation techniques of elite athletes to improve personal performance. His latest book, The Winning Factor, offers managers solutions from exceptional Olympic coaches on motivating, engaging and developing their employees. His work has been featured on ABC, CBS, CBC, and CTV and in a wide array of print media in North America and Europe.
Here is an excerpt from my interview of him. To read the complete interview, please click here.
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Morris: Before discussing The Winning Factor, a few general questions. First, who has had the greatest influence on your personal growth? How so?
Jensen: Probably my mother because she believed everything was possible so put no limitations on me.
Morris: The greatest impact on your professional development? How so?
Jensen: Hard to single out one person but it was Kazimierz Dabrowski who first introduced me to the critical role emotion and imagination play in human development. He was the one who coined the term “third factor.”
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.
Jensen: Again it grew out of my working/studying with Dr. Dabrowski. I was going through a difficult time in my life at that point and the timeliness of his concepts given the adversity of was facing really changed the course of my life.
Morris: To what extent has your formal education been invaluable to what you have accomplished in life thus far?
Jensen: I think formal education of any type can be an assist and a PhD has helped with credibility but I am also a believer in Mark Twain’s observation that you ought not let your schooling interfere with your education. Life can be a tremendous learning laboratory if you let it.
Morris: How do you define a “winner”? A “loser”?
Jensen: Only in developmental terms. Winning isn’t about the medal but about what happens to you in the achievement of that medal. If you will be nothing without a gold medal then you will be nothing with one. A loser is someone who lacks self awareness and self responsibility.
Morris: Of all the films you have seen, which do you think most effectively portrays great leadership in a competitive sports context?
Jensen: Probably Invictus, the Nelson Mandela South African rugby story.
Jensen: it’s been a while since I’ve seen it so memory may be inaccurate but Hoosiers.
Morris: When and why did you found Performance Coaching?
Jensen: In 1991 because I saw a need for training in coaching in the Organizational world that paralleled the coaching development systems prevalent in the sport coaching certification programs that had been implemented in several countries at the time.
Morris: To what extent (if any) has its original mission changed since then? Please explain.
Jensen: Not so much changed as deepened and, to a small extent, expanded. We believe more strongly then ever that managers and leaders need to move away from constantly directing and supervising into developing. They need to take on the more fulfilling mandate of becoming a developer of people.
Morris: In your opinion, to what extent (if any) have professional sports been corrupted by greed? Please explain.
Jensen: There is no question that the pendulum has swung dramatically away from players as owned pawns that are used to generate huge profits for those who own them. Clearly the adjustment has led to some greed and entitlement in some athletes. Most people no matter where they work would take as a wage their market value. Many athletes can get that in today’s world. Is it greed? I suppose we would need to know what they do with their resources before we passed that judgment. They are privileged.
Morris: What do you regret most about organized youth sports programs for children up to the age of 14? Why?
Jensen: That parental involvement has run amok. Sport has tremendous developmental potential for young people when they are involved not just in playing but in working through the various issues that are bound to arise in a competitive environment.
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To read the complete interview, please click here.
Peter cordially invites you to check out the resources at his website:
Here is an excerpt from the transcript of an interview of Christiane Amanpour conducted by Alison Beard and featured by Harvard Business Review blog. To read the complete interview and/or watch a video based on it, please click here.
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Christiane Amanpour gained global fame in the 1990s as a war correspondent for CNN and parlayed it into a simultaneous gig with CBS’s 60 Minutes. This year, only 16 months after stepping into a coveted anchor spot on ABC’s This Week, she returned to foreign news reporting (for ABC and CNN) because “there simply aren’t enough people doing it.” She is interviewed by Alison Beard.
Beard: How did you get started in journalism?
Amanpour: My first job was at a local television station in Providence [Rhode Island]. They took a leap of faith with me, I think because they saw a young woman who was very serious about her career path and knew exactly what she wanted to do with her life. I was committed to journalism; I wanted to be a foreign correspondent. Today I think that’s quite unusual. Many undergraduates don’t know what they want to do, so most of them put off the final decision and go to graduate school. So I think it was the ambition I showed, the sense of mission, the desire to improve myself, and also the willingness to do anything, go anywhere. No task was too paltry, and when things were above my experience level, I didn’t shrink. I just did the very best I could.
Beard: You’ve said that covering the war in Bosnia for CNN was a turning point in your career. Why?
Amanpour: That’s where I really started my professional journey. The first time they sent me abroad I was based in Europe, and several months after that, Iraq invaded Kuwait. I was immediately sent to work on that story, even though I was very junior. With CNN being what CNN was in those days, it was all hands on deck, and I was very lucky that was the case because I learned my craft, my trade—whatever you want to call it—on the job.
After the Gulf War, I turned to the next breaking story, which was the implosion that was going on in the former Yugoslavia, starting in the summer of 1991. The Bosnian War began 20 years ago in April. And it was a turning point for many reasons. First, my only war experience had been covering armies against armies in the desert. This time I was seeing a war against civilians, and so I had to adjust the way I looked at it, the way I covered it, the way I talked about it. I was questioned early on about my objectivity. And I was very upset about it because objectivity is our golden rule, and I take it very seriously. But I was forced to examine what objectivity actually means, and I realized that in a situation such as the one in Bosnia, where you had ethnic cleansing—genocide—you have a duty to call it like it is and to tell the truth.
Objectivity, in that regard, means giving all sides a fair hearing but never drawing a false moral equivalence. So I called who were the aggressors and who were the victims, and I’m very, very proud of that now, because that was what we had to do. I think we did the right thing as journalists and eventually managed to be part of the reason that the world intervened. We led and we forced leadership in our international sphere at the highest levels of the U.S. and European government. Unfortunately, we’re looking now at Syria, where we’re trying to do our job again, but it’s very, very difficult. Television organizations in the United States, except CNN, do not give enough or adequate weight to international stories. And the world is again saying: “Oh, we can’t intervene.” Excuses are being made, and leadership is not happening.
To read the complete interview and/or watch a video based on it, please click here.
Peter Sims is an author, speaker, and entrepreneur. He is the author of is Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries, from Simon & Schuster: Free Press. Previously, he was the co-author with Bill George of True North, the Wall Street Journal and BusinessWeek best-selling book, and he worked in venture capital with Summit Partners, a leading investment company, including as part of the team that established the firm’s London Office.
His work has appeared in Harvard Business Review, Tech Crunch, and Fortune and he’s a contributor to the Reuters, Fast Company, and Harvard Business Review blogs. He received an M.B.A. from Stanford Business School where he and several classmates established a popular course on leadership and has had a long collaboration with faculty at Stanford’s Institute of Design (the d.school). He frequently speaks or advises at corporations, associations, and universities, including Google, Eli Lilly, Cisco, ConAgra, Pixar, and Stanford University.
He lives in San Francisco and his great-great-great grandfather, Jacob Gundlach, founded Gundlach Bundschu (GunBun) in Sonoma, California’s oldest family-owned winery, which is run today by his cousins who, unlike Peter, know a lot about wine.
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Morris: Before discussing any if your books, a few general questions. First, when and why did you begin your association with Stanford’s Institute of Design (the d.school)?
Sims: I was introduced to George Kembel, the cofounder and Executive Director of the d.school in 2002. George became my design thinking teacher and mentor, while I shared about my experiences as an entrepreneur, investor, and student of leadership and entrepreneurship with George and his d.school colleagues. Understanding design methods literally changed the way I think; all of a sudden, I was immensely more creative, and the key insight I had was that those methods overlapped with the way entrepreneurs worked in the unknown. That became the basis for Little Bets.
Morris: What business lessons have you since learned from that association that have direct relevance to successful change initiatives in almost any organization, whatever its size and nature may be? For example, is it possible to design initiatives that will avoid or overcome cultural resistance?
Sims: There are a few principles from design that will influence the business world for years to come. The first is the ability to do rapid, low-cost prototyping at the early stages of developing ideas. We never learned that in business school, yet planning in PowerPoint and Excel is often a terrible waste of time when the answers exist outside the office, in the unarticulated needs of potential users of that idea. That’s where ethnographic observation and need-finding techniques from design, the kind used by anthropologists, play an important role. People in business are surprisingly bad at truly understanding their customers’ needs. Market research doesn’t work for identifying unarticulated needs; just ask Steve Jobs who often says, “People don’t know what they want if they haven’t seen it.”
Morris: Thomas Edison once observed, “Vision without execution is hallucination.” Here’s my question: Even after having designed the best strategy, what should leaders do if there is no buy-in?
Sims: I’ve experienced this; it happens all the time. If there is no buy-in, leaders should wonder if they are hallucinating. That’s one reason I’m very happy to see the rise of a number of schools of thought featured in Little Bets, such as design, lean startups, and counterinsurgency that advocate failing quickly to learn fast, in order to test assumptions and build on gains that work. We’re living in an era that rewards bottom up innovation, yet top-down thinking is still the dominant management norm, an outgrowth of industrial management. The world is far too uncertain for top-down management – just ask Generals in the Army as they’ve learned in the Middle East, where they don’t know the problems they’ll encounter each day. They have to be able to rapidly adapt.
Morris: In your opinion, are investment opportunities for venture capital firms better, worse, or about the same today as they were when you were associated with Summit Partners? Please explain.
Sims: The market is far more competitive and saturated with capital today than it was several years ago. As the investment hold periods get longer, and the return profiles fall, venture capital as an industry is going through a recalibration, where name brand firms will make it, while a lot of dumb money will go away. In addition, the social media valuations we see today, such as Linked In at 30+ times revenue, or Facebook valued the way it is indicates a bubble. The only question I cannot answer is how long that bubble will last.
Morris: Now please shift your attention to True North, a book you co-authored with Bill George. For those who have not as yet read it, what is “true north” and what is its significance?
Sims: Your True North represents your most deeply held values and aspirations.
Morris: What are the defining characteristics of “authentic leadership”?
Sims: Bill George defined authentic leadership along five dimensions in his book Authentic Leadership, most importantly leading from an ethical set of values, and a sense of purpose.
Morris: Throughout history, who do you think offer the best examples of an “authentic” leader? Please explain.
Sims: Abraham Lincoln, Nelson Mandela, Jane Adams, Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard. Oprah and Pixar’s Ed Catmull is a great modern day example, as are the leaders Jim Collins profiles as Level 5 Leaders in Good to Great.
Morris: Were Hitler and Stalin authentic leaders? Please explain.
Sims: No, because they weren’t ethical.
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To read the complete interview, please click here.
Peter Sims cordially invites you to check out the resources at these websites:
How and why “a purposeful story, well told, is the greatest tool for business.”
Others have their own reasons for praising Peter Guber’s book. Here are three of mine. First, I really appreciate the scope and depth as well as the variety of the personal and professional experiences that he shares. Who doesn’t he know? What hasn’t he done, or at least attempted to do? He can thus draw upon an abundance of real-world situations within which to insert observations and lessons-to-be-learned about how to “connect, persuade, and triumph with the hidden power of story.” His unofficial mentors (“voices”) include Muhammad Ali, David Begelman, Jack Canfield, Deepak Chopra, David Copperfield, Steve Denning, Al Giddings, Oscar Goodman, Adolph Hitler, Dustin Hoffman, Michael Jackson, Ervin (“Magic”) Johnson, Kirk Kerkorian, T.H. Lawrence (of Arabia), George Lopez, Nelson Mandela, Dean Martin, John McCain, Mike Milken, Dennis Miller, Rupert Murdoch…and that’s only those whose last names are A-M.
I also appreciate how specific Guber is when explaining how to get listeners’ attention with an unexpected challenge, then how to give them an emotional experience by narrating the struggle to overcome that challenge or to find the answer to the opening question, and finally, how to galvanize listeners’ response with an eye-opening resolution that calls them to action. Drawing upon all his sources as well as his own extensive experience, Guber shares what he has learned about what could be characterized as the strategies for “dramatic persuasion”: seize attention, establish tension with conflict or uncertainty, introduce setting (context, frame-of-reference, background) and the “players” who populate it, establish dominant themes, develop the plot (i.e. story, narrative, journey, progression or regression), and increase tension (with perils, complications, revelations, etc.) until the (pay-off, climax, denouement, etc.) occurs. He also has much of value to say about back-stories, understanding the given audience and how best to frame the material for it, and “leveraging” the senses to maximize emotional involvement. Guber claims, and I agree, that people may think about a decision but, more often than not, their feelings determine what it will be.
Finally, there are dozens (hundreds?) of memorable anecdotes that are both entertaining and informative. For example, soon after Guber became the young studio head at Columbia Pictures, he met with Jack Warner (founder and former chairman of Warner Bros.) and confided that he felt “overwhelmed” by his responsibilities. Warner replied, “Let me tell you a story. Don’t be confused. You’re only renting that office. You don’t own it. It’s a zoo. You’re the zookeeper, and every single person that comes in the office comes with a monkey. That monkey is their problem. They’re trying to leave it with you. Your job is to discover where the monkey is. They’ll hide it, or dress it up, but remember you’re the zookeeper. You’ve got to keep the place clean. So make sure when you walk them to the door, they’re got the monkey by the hand. Don’t let them leave without it. Don’t let them come back until it’s trained and they have solutions to their problem. Otherwise at the end of the day, you’ll have an office full of screaming, jumping animals, and monkeys shit all over the floor.”
Co-founder of the Collective Wisdom Initiative, Alan Briskin is an organizational consultant, artist, and researcher. His co-authored book, The Power of Collective Wisdom, won the 2010 Nautilus Award in the category of business and leadership. One of his other books, Daily Miracles: Stories and Practices of Humanity and Excellence in Health Care, written with Jan Boller, was chosen as the 2007 Book of the Year by the American Journal of Nursing in the area of public interest and creative works. Briskin, honored by Saybrook University as its 1997 Noted Humanist Scholar, is a leading voice in the field of organizational learning and development.
In 1971, he was part of an international community in Israel, founded on the principals of the communal kibbutz. As an educator, he helped in the start up and development of an alternative school in Maine (1973) and was the first Director of Education for the Vermont group home that became the model program for deinstitutionalization of confined youth (1978). His interest in alternative educational settings continued for over 10 years (1995 – 2005) while he served as the principal consultant to the George Lucas Educational Foundation. Briskin’s work with human potential and organizational learning continued as a specialist in prison reform and health care. He was the first person to research emerging theories of moral development with prison inmates and led a model program aiding inmates to bridge the chasm between cell block and useful employment. As a health care consultant in the mid 1990’s, he helped design programs for practicing physicians to deepen their communication skills with patients. He is a founding member of the Relationship Centered Care Network. Briskin has been invited to speak on his work throughout the United States, as well as in Canada, England, Japan, and South Africa. He has a doctorate from the Wright Institute in Berkeley, CA and is a Professional Associate of the Grubb Institute in London. His love of photography opened his inner eye to the beauty that enfolds us. Briskin lives in Oakland, CA.
Morris: Before discussing The Power of Collective Wisdom, a book you co-authored with Sheryl Erickson, John Ott, and Tom Callanan, a few general questions. First, when and why was the Collective Wisdom Initiative founded?
Briskin: It was founded in 1991 and funded by the philanthropic organization, the Fetzer Institute, after research we conducted demonstrated a growing network of scholars and practitioners interested in the question of group practices leading to creative breakthroughs and transformative change. Our initial task was threefold: to enable this diverse global group to see and connect with each other, to help each other gain access to useful ideas, and to notice patterns and make visible this growing network of people and ideas. On our website, two years before Facebook began, we posted photos and personal profiles of each of our network members. We also commissioned original papers from scholars and practitioners, asking them to write about a topic they themselves were wrestling with, ideas still emerging in their own personal and intellectual life. We had tremendous diversity, ranging from a physicist who worked with the Dalai Lama writing about love and community to a Jungian scholar writing about the ecstatic darkness in groups.
Morris: Years ago, you became centrally involved with the education of children, first in Israel and then in New England (Maine and Vermont). Please explain your interest in alternative educational settings.
Briskin: Well I had a wild idea that educational settings were places where learning could happen. My interest in alternative learning began in the late 1960’s when I read about a small program in the South Bronx that successfully worked with high school dropouts. The curriculum was based on their personal life experience and it made me realize the importance of learning as something personal, something to be experienced, something to get excited about. For those who watched the movie Precious, the alternative school the main character went to had that quality. It was messy, at times chaotic, but the kids knew someone cared about them and knew an adult believed in their potential. And they also learned from each other.
Morris: Please explain what the George Lucas Educational Foundation is and does. Also, when and why did you first become involved with it?
Briskin: One of the things I appreciated about the George Lucas Educational Foundation was that it was not set up as a traditional charitable foundation. Rather, it seemed to be driven by a series of evolving questions. How do kids best learn? How will changing technology and the digital age affect learning and learning institutions? What is already happening in public education that deserves our attention and support? My role as a consultant was to support both group execution and strategic vision. Lucas had a vision of giving educators, politicians, parents, and school administrators “swords” that would aid them in cutting through the bureaucracy, specialization, and stupefying language that creeps into discussions about learning. The Foundation did this by becoming a media hub for storytelling about what was working in public education and hired a full time documentary filmmaker to showcase these model programs.
Morris: Please explain what the Relationship Centered Care Network is and does. What are the nature and extent of your association with it?
Briskin: This was another example of the power of partnerships, collective networks, and inspired conversations. Provoked by fundamental questions such as “where is the care in Healthcare?” and “how might compassion and clinical excellence be joined?” the Pew Health Professions Commission and the Fetzer Institute joined forces to promote an integrated model of care. In 1994, they published a report that emphasized the primacy of relationships – between caregiver and patient and family, among practitioners, and between practitioners and their community. And then in 1996, they convened six separate groups of twenty-five or so people in diverse areas of health care. We met in Kalamazoo, Michigan – where Fetzer is located. And we talked, told stories, and addressed questions about illness and transformation. It was eye opening and emotionally engaging and celebratory – we were simultaneously learning from each other and learning about how health care could be transformed. Later we began having annual conferences for the combined groups and other interested professionals and eventually over 1,000 people were in the network. My book, Daily Miracles, written with stories drawn from dialogues with nurses at a community hospital over a two year period was a direct result of this experience.
Morris: Now please focus on The Power of Collective Wisdom that you co-authored with Sheryl Erickson, John Ott, and Tom Callanan. In the Foreword, Peter Senge suggests four reasons why he thinks the book is so important…and I agree with each. Please share your own thoughts about the reasons he cites. First, that the book “corrects a misconception that wisdom is not developable.”
Briskin: What Senge does so well is that he challenges basic assumptions and misconceptions that often go unchallenged in the business community. The first is that wisdom is not developable, as if it’s a matter of luck or personality or genetics. Well it’s just not the case. Wisdom involves our accumulated knowledge about a subject but also a reverence for life, for an understanding that our immediate actions have long-term consequences, and for an appreciation that there are different ways of knowing and understanding situations. When I talked about the Relationship Centered Network, I was speaking about a group developing wisdom. And we do this by joining contemplative practices such as the use of silence, prayer, and consideration of a higher purpose in life with dialogic practices which engage us with others – making us consider differences and allowing us to find what is common among us.
Developing wisdom in community is to constantly learn and relearn that expedience in the short term – whether for efficiency or profitability – can lead to disasters in the long term in financial, ecological, political, social, and spiritual spheres.
Morris: Senge also suggests that the book is “about the capacity of human communities to make wise choices and to orient themselves around a living sense of the future that truly matters to them.”
Briskin: He is addressing a basic misunderstanding that wisdom is only about individuals. We often associate wisdom with individuals – the ancient figure of Solomon or great leaders such as Lincoln, Gandhi, King, and Mandela. But Senge is pointing out that is misleading for two reasons. First is that these leaders are known precisely for their ability to catalyze and mobilize the wisdom of large groups of people, often in times of great conflict and conflicting viewpoints. Second, the focus on the individual misses the point that it is in partnerships, small groups, and communities of shared goals that anything of lasting value is created. The group is the fuel for completing tasks and getting things done. And people in groups can accomplish almost anything when they feel connection to a higher purpose and an understanding of how their individual actions affect each other and the larger whole.
Morris: Sense’s third reason for admiring the book is that you and your co-authors show that wisdom “is all about results, and especially what is achieved over the longer term” and what has substantial “tangible impact.”
Briskin: This was personally very important for me. Collective wisdom is too often dismissed as a “feel good” concept or used as an expression for insights that can occur in well run groups. But this misses the larger point that wisdom is also about sound judgment, not just consensus, insight, or simple agreement. Wisdom in groups is earned by gathering useful data, exploring diverse perspectives, respecting different viewpoints, and then shaped through critical reflection on behalf of tangible outcomes. We show this in the book through stories ranging from indigenous people basing decisions on the seventh generation forward to the creation of the United States Constitution by a cantankerous group of people coming together in Philadelphia – not even knowing that a new Constitution was needed.
Collective wisdom is about our capacity to recognize interdependence and to make decisions demonstrating that we have a stake in each other, that we can indeed care for each other and the physical planet we share.
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To read the complete interview, please click here.
You are also cordially invited to check out the resources at these websites:
In both this volume and in 50 Self-Help Classics, Butler-Bowdon has selected and then provided a rigorous examination of carefully selected works which have had, for decades, a profound impact on those who read them and then applied the principles which their respective authors affirm. In this instance, “winning wisdom” to apply in one’s life and work. There are several reasons why I hold this volume in such high regard. Here are three.
First, Butler-Bowden has assembled excerpts and focused on key points from a wide variety of works which include (with authors listed in alphabetical order, as in the book) Horatio Alger’s Ragged Dick, Andrew Carnegie’s Autobiography, Jim Collins’ Good to Great, Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich, Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom, Thomas J. Stanley’s The Millionaire Mind, Brian Tracy’s Maximum Achievement, Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, Sam Walton’s Made in America, and Zig Ziglar’s Meet You at the Top. Obviously, some of this material would also be appropriate for inclusion in 50 Self-Help Classics.
Second, I appreciate the fact that Butler-Bowden also enables his readers to focus on issues of greatest interest to them by suggesting combinations of selections within these four thematic categories:
Motivation (e.g. Tom Hopkins’ The Official Guide to Success)
Fulfilling your potential (e.g. Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz’s The Power of Full Engagement)
Prosperity (e.g. Russell H. Conwell’s Acres of Diamonds)
Leadership (e.g. Warren Bennis’ On Becoming a Leader)
The diversity of Butler-Bowdon’s primary sources even within the same category is indeed impressive.
Third and finally, he makes clever use of a number of reader-friendly devices throughout his narrative, such as “In a nutshell,” “Final comments,” and a brief bio of the author at the conclusion of each selection. I also appreciate the inclusion of brief quotations wherever they are most relevant.
In the Introduction, Butler-Bowdon observes that “When we think of success writing it is often the motivational classics that first come to mind, and the titles in this [volume] represent the historical development of the genre….While all of the books have been bestsellers [and many continue to be], the main criterion for their inclusion was their impact and renown, or whether they filled a niche in terms of a particular subject or person….The leaders discussed are not specific markers for your own success — it is generally not a good idea to compare yourself to other people — but their stories illustrate a `way’ of success that anyone can follow.”
I agree with Butler-Bowdon that each person seeking success (however defined and measured) must assume primary responsibility for being and doing whatever is required to achieve it. However, most of those who share or are the subjects of the success “stories” in this volume have duly acknowledged the assistance provided to them along the way by family members, friends, allies, and in several instances, benefactors.
Butler-Bowdon realizes that he is providing “only a taste of the literature (the main ideas, context, and impact of each title)” while urging his readers to “feast on the real thing.” What he offers is by no means a buffet of entrepreneurial “hors d’oeuvres.” On the contrary, the content is solid and skillfully presented effectively. I am convinced that many of those who read this book will then be encouraged to read (or re-read) “the real thing.” If Butler-Bowdon’s efforts accomplish nothing else, that will indeed be sufficient to earn the praise I think he has earned…and justly deserves.
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(Editor’s note: This post concludes a six-week blog series on how leadership might look in the future. The conversations generated by these posts will help shape the agenda of a symposium on the topic in June 2010, hosted by HBS’s Nitin Nohria, Rakesh Khurana, and Scott Snook.)
Six weeks ago, Harvard Business School professor Scott Snook (along with his colleagues Nitin Nohria and Rakesh Khurana) launched an online conversation on the nature of leadership. They invited top scholars and practitioners in the field to talk about our traditional assumptions and practices and how and whether they hold up in a new era — one shaped by modern warfare, severe economic pressures, natural disasters, rapidly changing technology, and some eyebrow-raising ethical choices. If the old models are broken, then what should replace them? They asked these experts, in other words, to imagine the future of leadership. We received 33 posts, each representing a thoughtful, enlightened point of view. As the editor for the series I’ll mention a few themes that came through, but urge you to visit the rest of the series for more.
A few contributors took on the great-man model, arguing that it’s no longer relevant or particularly effective. HBS professor Bill George, for instance, said that the hierarchical model “simply doesn’t work anymore.” Knowledge workers don’t respond to top-down leadership. Barbara Kellerman, from Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, argued forcefully against what she called the “abiding tyranny of the male leadership model.” In the U.S., she says, “so far as leadership is concerned, women in nearly every realm are nearly nowhere -— hardly any better off than they were a generation ago.” HBS’s Linda Hill wrote about “leading from behind,” a phrase she borrowed from Nelson Mandela.
We had a couple of posts about the simple art of paying attention. Harry Spence from Harvard’s Kennedy School, for instance, pointed to the danger of leaders unconsciously betraying their organizations thanks to personal agendas they’re not even aware they hold. Ellen Langer, a psychology professor at Harvard, wrote a thoughtful piece about “mindfulness” — actively noticing events and people. She cited a study of orchestra musicians who were instructed to be either mindless or mindful. That is, they were to replicate a previous performance with which they were very satisfied or make the piece new in very subtle ways that only they would know. Audiences unaware of the instructions listened to taped performances and greatly preferred the mindful versions (the players liked them better too).
Another series of posts focused on leadership development. Trina Soske (from Oliver Wyman Leadership Development) and Jay Conger Claremont McKenna College), for example, argued that companies aren’t getting their money’s worth with classroom efforts and that development projects should be focused squarely on real business problems. Daisy Wademan Dowling, an author and leadership development executive, and MasterCard International’s Matthew Breitfelder proposed that companies take a page from the Peace Corps, sending employees to volunteer across geographic boundaries. William Sullivan, from The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, argued for bringing leadership development and a sense of professionalism to undergraduate education, rather than starting with business schools.
Ellen Peebles is a senior editor with the Harvard Business Review Group. She was the editor for the HBS Imagining the Future of Leadership blog series.
Here is an excerpt from article written by Linda Hill 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 Daily Alerts, please visit firstname.lastname@example.org.
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(Editor’s note: This post is part of a six-week blog series on how leadership might look in the future. The conversations generated by these posts will help shape the agenda of a symposium on the topic in June 2010, hosted by HBS’s Nitin Nohria, Rakesh Khurana, and Scott Snook.)
For now and into coming decade or so, the most effective leaders will lead from behind, not from the front — a phrase I’ve borrowed from none other than Nelson Mandela. In his autobiography, Mandela equated a great leader with a shepherd: “He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind.”
It’s a concept whose time has come, given several realities:
The psychological contract between companies and employees is changing. Among other things, people are looking for more meaning and purpose in their work lives. They want and increasingly expect to be valued for who they are and to be able to contribute to something larger than themselves. People expect to have the opportunity to co-author their organization’s purpose. They want to be associated with organizations that serve as positive forces in the world.
Innovation — not simply incremental but continual breakthrough innovation — will be a key driver of competitiveness. Society’s notion of the brilliant innovator, the solitary genius with a sudden flash of creative insights is hard to shake. But, after all, an iPod or a Pixar movie is not the product of a single person’s vision or labors. Most innovation is the result of collaborative work involving a diverse group and a collective process of iteration and discovery. Those in positions of authority have been taught to think that it’s their job to come up with the big idea — but sustained innovation comes when everyone has an opportunity to demonstrate a “slice of genius” (an idea that has evolved from my research with Greg Brandeau, the CTO of the Walt Disney Studios, and my research associate Emily Stecker). Breakthroughs come when seemingly ordinary people make extraordinary contributions.
Leaders can encourage breakthrough ideas not by cultivating followers who can execute but building communities that can innovate. Of course, leaders do need to act as direction-setters and vision-makers, and we need to prepare them for those roles. But we often emphasize these skills at the expense of others that are growing in importance. If you’re looking for innovation, it doesn’t make much sense to say that the leader’s job is to set the course and mobilize people to follow them there. If you want your team to produce something truly original, you don’t know where you’re going, almost by definition. The traditional leadership model just doesn’t work.
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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 Daily Alerts, please visit email@example.com.
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Linda A. Hill is the Wallace Brett Dunham Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, and Faculty Chair of the Leadership Initiative.
There are business books that deal with practically every business issue you can imagine. But there is one theme that never disappears, that is perpetually resurrected, because it deals with such a basic human problem. It goes by a lot of names: motivation; self-improvement; self-help. The idea is simple – how can I get better at what I do? – every day. Over and over again, I need to improve…myself.
And there are two parts to this getting better battle. One part is skill development. The other part is, where will I find the energy/focus/motivation to get better?
I recently re-read my handout to a book I presented back in July, 2001: The Other 90%: How to Unlock Your Vast Untapped Potential for Leadership and Life by Robert W. Cooper. The book reminds us all that we simply are not living up to our possibilities, our capacities, our capabilities. We can get better at what we do! We can do better at our job, at our relationships, at our lives.
The book is filled with quotes like these:
“What if every day I had questioned yesterday’s definition of my best? What if I’d listened to my own heart instead of their words. Then I might have kept looking deeper and giving the world more of the best that was hidden inside me. All of us are mostly unused potential.” (Hugh Cooper Sr., the author’s grandfather)
“There is no passion to be found in playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” (Nelson Mandela)
“The world belongs to those with the most energy.” (Alexis de Tocqueville)
First thing Monday morning, do you wake up envisioning – “Another week of stress and strain at work” – or “Another chance to do more of the things I love”?
As Hegel observed, “We may affirm that absolutely nothing great in the world has been accomplished without passion.”
No matter who you are, no matter how hard your life has been, no matter what challenges you are facing right now, every moment you have within your reach what my grandfather knew we all have – the opportunity to shape what you are becoming.
Here’s what I think. People who only listen to motivational speakers, people who only read self-help books, are probably not tackling the skill development they need to tackle. Motivation help alone does not cut it.
But, on the other hand, we probably could all do better than we are doing. After the skill development, there is an attitude adjustment and improvement, a raising of the energy bar, that we all need to tackle. Over and over again. So maybe we should read an occasional book that in one way or another reminds us that we really could and probably should become all that we can be.
The Other 90% is a good book to choose.
The book is filled with practical suggestions, such as how to take a short break during the day that helps you renew your energy. You can purchase my synopsis of this book, with handout + audio, at our companion web site, 15minutebusinessbooks.com.