Through his interactive program, The Music Paradigm, he has taught hundreds of top companies around the world how to improve their leadership skills and teamwork.
You now have an opportunity to watch a brief but intertaining as well as informative film of Roger in action. Please click here.
I urge you to check out Maestro: A Surprising Story About Leading by Listening is his first book, published by Portfolio/The Penguin Group (2009).
To read my review of Mestro, please click here.
To read my interview of Roger, please click here.
Erika Andersen is the founding partner of Proteus, a coaching, consulting and training firm that focuses on leader readiness. She and her colleagues at Proteus support leaders at all levels to get ready and stay ready to meet whatever the future might bring.
Much of Erika’s recent work has focused on organizational visioning and strategy, executive coaching, and management and leadership development. She serves as consultant and advisor to the CEOs and top executives of a number of corporations, including NBC Universal, Gannett Corporation, Rockwell Automation, Turner Broadcasting, GE, Union Square Hospitality Group, and PwC.
She also shares her insights about managing people and creating successful businesses by speaking to corporations, non-profit groups and national associations. Her books and learning guides have been translated into Spanish, Turkish, German, French, Russian and Chinese, and she has been quoted in such publications as the Wall Street Journal, Fortune and The New York Times. Erika is one of the most popular business bloggers at Forbes.com. She is the author of Leading So People Will Follow (Jossey-Bass, 2012),Being Strategic: Plan for Success; Outthink Your Competitors; Stay Ahead of Change (St. Martin’s Press, May 2009), and Growing Great Employees: Turning Ordinary People into Extraordinary Performers (Portfolio/The Penguin Group, 2006), and the author and host of Being Strategic with Erika Andersen on Public Television.
Here is an excerpt from my interview of her. To read the complete interview, please click here.
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Morris: Who has had the greatest impact on your professional development? How so?
Andersen: I think my dad was and is my greatest professional influence. He was a lawyer – a labor negotiations counsel – and he loved it. He had wanted to be a lawyer since he was a young teenager; he went to law school on the GI bill after WWII, passed the bar, joined a firm and practiced till the day he died. I always knew he felt grateful and fortunate to do work he enjoyed and was good at doing. It was a great model for me – both about being able to accomplish your dreams and being able to find a career that’s satisfying and challenging.
Morris: Here are several of my favorite quotations to which I ask you to respond. First, from Lao-Tzu’s Tao Te Ching:
“Learn from the people
Plan with the people
Begin with what they have
Build on what they know
Of the best leaders
When the task is accomplished
The people will remark
We have done it ourselves”
Andersen: I love the Tao Te Ching; it was my constant companion in college. I’ve always been especially fond of this particular quote – even as a teenager it resonated for me. And the core idea – that great leaders are deeply collaborative and empowering – has shown itself to be true again and again. The best leaders I know catalyze a sense of personal accomplishment in their folks.
Morris: And then, from Oscar Wilde: “Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.”
Andersen: I’m a big fan of Oscar Wilde (anyone whose last words were supposedly “either that wallpaper goes or I go” has got my vote). And I agree 1000% with him: authenticity is the starting point of any kind of greatness. So many people spend huge amounts of time figuring out how to be what they think they should be, or what they think others want them to be…imagine what would happen if that energy was freed to figure out how to be the best possible version of themselves: their unique gifts and strengths taken to the highest potential.
Morris: In your opinion, why do so many C-level executives seem to have such a difficult time delegating work to others?
Andersen: I think it’s a combination skill and mindset problem. Many managers (C-level or otherwise) don’t have good delegation skills: they don’t know to consistently and effectively transfer a responsibility to another person. And some people have the skills but their mindset doesn’t support delegation: they assume they have the only right way to do things, or that no one will ever come up to their standards, or that if they delegate key responsibilities, they will no longer be indispensible. Quite often when we coach executives, we end up both teaching them delegation skills (using the model in Growing Great Employees) and helping them clear up their mindset.
Morris: The greatest leaders throughout history (with rare exception) were great storytellers. What do you make of that?
Andersen: Stories are central to our evolution as human beings. Think about it: until a couple of hundred years ago, very few people could read. All the information that needed to be passed along was passed along verbally. Stories are the easiest and best way to share important information: they’re memorable and replicable. So: we’ve been telling stories for tens of thousands of years, and the people who were best at telling stories about the most important things were valuable. Fast forward to today: we still find great story-telling valuable in our leaders!
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To read the complete interview, please click here.
Erika cordially invites you to check out the resources at these websites:
Proteus International home page
Her Forbes blog
Her Amazon page
How to lead more effectively by doing less and helping others to do more…and do it better
The title of this book attracts attention but is misleading. It implies that J. Keith Murnighan emphatically recommends that leaders literally do nothing. On the contrary, he has written a book—and a quite valuable book – in which he explains how to lead more effectively by doing less so that others can more…and do it better as they “learn by doing” rather than by admonition or from passive observation. As is also true of countless other business books, the subtitle is far more informative than is the title. “In other words,” Murnighan suggests, “stop working and start leading.”
As he notes, here’s a familiar challenge: “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.” Why? There are some tasks best completed by a leader; most other tasks can – and should – be completed by others (i.e. direct reports). No one person can do everything. Leaders should commit most of their time and energy to being facilitators and orchestators.
I agree with Murnighan’s analogy: “When things are really clicking, work will be like the performance of a great Beethoven symphony, with the notes in the right place, the crescendos coming on time, and at the end, a feeling of exhilaration at your collective accomplishments. Leaders and their teams never experience this kind of thrill when leaders do too much.” Quite true. The results are even worse, however, if leaders do nothing.
Here are several of the passages in Murnighan’s book that caught my eye:
o A ‘litmus test” to determine whether or not you are doing too much (Pages 18-19)
o “Five Natural Problems of Individuals as Leaders” (40-51)
o A Japanese proverb (“Every stranger is a thief”) and a rational model for building trust (86-88)
o “Door Fasteners” and “Dental Work”: Two examples of why “Effective leadership is lonely” (128-132)
o Defining characteristics of a “profit-maximizing company” (161-163)
o Mini-profile of Norbert Brainin, the first violinist of the Amadeus String Quartet (183-187)
No brief commentary such as this one can do full justice to the scope and depth of information, insights, and counsel that Keith Murnighan provides within this volume. One of the core principles that he affirms throughout the narrative is rightsizing. However, it remains for each reader to determine the nature and extent of what is appropriate to her or his own circumstances insofar as two critical issues are concerned: division of labor and allocation of resources. The challenge and (yes) the opportunity is to determine correct proportionality (i.e. rightsizing) at any given time, in any given situation. That is a determination that only a leader should make, albeit after consultation with associates, and it will ultimately determine the success or failure of the given enterprise.
Here is a generous provision of “practical, immediately applicable tools with measurable results”
Whatever you call it (some call it a “sixth sense”), most of us realize when we are in the presence of people who are “special.” They attract us and we feel comforted rather than threatened by them. It’s as if we had entered a gravitation field and there is this almost electrical interaction. (Some call it “chemistry” or “instant rapport.”) The best word I can think of to describe it is “magnetic.” However, I cannot explain how and why it happens…but Olivia Fox Cabane can, and indeed has explained it in this book.
At the outset, I think it necessary to make a distinction between authentic and inauthentic charisma while conceding that both can be magnetic. Those who possess authentic charisma cherish mutual respect and trust. They possess emotional intelligence (e.g. empathy) as well as decency and kindness that almost glow. They radiate integrity. That is the effect that Mohandas Gandhi had on people when in his presence.
Those who exemplify what I characterize as inauthentic charisma are by nature or intent manipulative, predatory, self-serving, devious, and hypocritical. They will say or do whatever serves their purposes. They earn trust only to create opportunities. Appropriately, “con artists” are so-named because of their ability to gain — so that they can then exploit — another person’s confidence. They almost sparkle when ingratiating themselves. At least early in Adolph Hitler’s political career, people whose support he attempted to recruit found him “charming.” Later when he began to deliver speeches to vast audiences, he was widely described as “inspiring,” even “messianic.”
As Olivia Fox Cabane explains, people are not born charismatic, “innately magnetic from birth.” Rather, “charisma is the result of specific nonverbal behaviors, not an inherent or magical personal quality.” In fact, almost anyone can master “practical, immediately applicable tools…in a methodical, systematic way, with practical exercises immediately useful in the real world.” More specifically, she explains
o How to develop and enhance one’s charisma with three behaviors: presence, power, and warmth
o How and why “charisma begins in the mind”
o How to counteract charisma-impairing physical discomfort
o How to handle skillfully almost any difficult situation
o How to create charismatic mental states
o How to determine which charisma style (i.e. focus, visionary, kindness, or authority) is most appropriate to one’s character, the given goals to achieve, and one’s current and imminent situations)
o How to make a great first impression
o How to listen with charisma
o What “emotional contagion” is and how to manage it effectively
o How to deal effectively with difficult people
o How to deliver constructive criticism
o How to make a public presentation of almost anything with charisma
o How to respond effectively to a crisis
o The defining characteristics of “the charismatic life”
Cabane assumes that the information, insights, and advice that she provides in this book – the behaviors that project presence, power, and warmth as well as an entire toolkit to master those behaviors — will be used to serve purposes and achieve objectives that are not only legal but ethical and moral, that are life-affirming, that will help to make a positive difference in a world that so often seems hostage to negativity. This book will help authentic people to be significantly more effective in all areas of their life. Yes, the book will also help at least some inauthentic people to become more effective – at least for a while — and perhaps one day Olivia Fox Cabane will write a book in which she explains how to recognize them, avoid them, and protect ourselves and others from them.
For now, let’s all be grateful for what she shares in this book. Those who read it will increase their understanding of the art and a science of enriching their relationships with others. That is indeed an admirable goal. Helping her readers to achieve it is a precious gift.
Bonus: To check out a video during which Olivia discusses some of the core concepts in her book, please click here.
How and why almost anyone can learn to survive and (perhaps) thrive in a create-on-demand world
Contrary to what this book’s subtitle suggests, even people who are highly renowned for being “brilliant” cannot turn it on ”at a moment’s notice.” The great value of this book is to be found in Todd Henry’s explanation of how “purposeful preparation and training using the tools in this book will directly increase [his reader’s] capacity to do brilliant work,” and do so more often, if not (as he claims) “day after day, year after year.” I agree with him that, with appropriate guidance and what Anders Ericsson characterizes as “deliberate” practice, almost anyone can be more creative (make something new or create a new combination) or more innovative (make something better, or improve with a new combination). Those are worthy objectives, to be sure, but gaining the skills needed is best viewed as a process rather than as a destination.
This is what Henry has in mind when observing, “If you want to deliver the right idea at the right moment, you must begin the process far upstream from when you need the idea.” Also, he urges his reader to adopt the goal of being prolific, brilliant, and healthy in order to produce “great work consistently and in a sustainable way.” All three are essential. Tony Schwartz would add that energy renewal is essential to being healthy, as are proper nutrition and systematic physical exercise. Burnout remains a serious problem, especially during an economy such as the current one. Recent research indicates that, on average in a U.S. workplace, fewer than 30% of employees are actively and productively engaged. More than 70% are either passively engaged (“mailing it in”) or actively disengaged, doing whatever they can to undermine operations.
Throughout two Parts (i.e. “The Dynamics” and “Creative Rhythm”) Henry examines business issues such as these, discussing each in a pragmatic rather than theoretical context:
o The dynamics of creative work and of team work
o Their side effects (explaining how to deal with the “assassins of creativity”)
o Focusing on what is most important
o Building and sustaining important relations between and among individuals as well as organizations
o Collaborative brilliance
o Energy allocation, conservation, and renewal
o Creative stimulation (if not inspiration)
o Time allocation and efficiency
o “Checkpoints” for cohesion of creative initiatives
o Coordinating the “natural rhythms” of intentionality, choice, and discipline
The earlier reference to Anders Ericsson supports Henry’s acknowledgement that although creativity may seem accidental, spontaneous, situational, etc, it is almost always the result of an on-going process during which skills are strengthened through disciplined practice under expert supervision. Creative capability is vulnerable at all times to “assassins” that include dissonance, fear, and expectation escalation. Meanwhile, there are tensions to be managed, such as time/value, predictable/rhythmic, and product/process.
I agree with Henry that how we define greatness defines who we are. I also think that how we define greatness clarifies who and what we can become. This is what Henry Ford had in mind long ago when observing, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re probably right.” What do you think? Todd Henry suggests, “In the end, it’s probably the single biggest determinant of the course of our life.”
How and why “Free Radicals” create wealth for themselves and meanwhile improve the world
Initially, I was somewhat put off by this book’s title but it certainly caught my attention and thus served its purpose in that respect. However, I wonder, how many people will let it go at that rather than read and then consider what Any Kessler has to say about various “unapologetic rules for game-changing entrepreneurs”? As my rating indicates, I think he has much of value to say…and says it well.
With regard to the meaning and significance of the book’s title, here is what Kessler observes: “the best way to leverage Abundance and Scale and to create Productivity is to get rid of people…Now I’m not suggesting we actually eat anyone…But we do need to get rid of worthless jobs [and those who languish in then]…There’s nothing productive about [many different kinds of jobs], though they may be temporarily necessary until someone, a true Free Radical, writes a piece of code to make them obsolete. That’s how you create productivity…If you look at the world through a productivity filter, a lot more things start to make sense, especially about who is pulling their load and who is just along for the ride.”
As Kessler goes on to explain, a “Free Radical” is a change agent who is determined to eliminate anyone and anything that reduces (if not eliminates) value, however defined. Especially during the current Depression/Depression/Great Reset/Whatever, it makes no sense to leave in place barriers (human and non-human) to productivity and efficiency, that are both scalable and sustainable.
How to decide what to do and not do? Kessler offers a baker’s dozen of “Rules” (the last is a bonus) and devotes a separate chapter to each. He explains why and how all can be essential “game-changers” for Free Radicals such as John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, Henry Ford, and Sam Walton. However different they may be in most other respects, all of them not only created wealth for themselves, but at the very same time, improved the world, made life better, and increased everyone else’s standard of living. As Kessler explains, “Free Radicals found situations to combust and destroy, but in the end, it was only to make room to build the new [and the improved] – disrupt the status quo, do more with less, advance society, drive progress rather than have progress drive them. A free Radical is someone who gets wealthy inventing the future by helping others live longer and better.” So, “eating people” is a metaphor for the process by which Free Radicals (Creators) and their allies (Servers) eliminate whoever and whatever opposes or impedes “increasing productivity, increasing society’s wealth, reinventing the way the world works and generating enough (altruistic?) profits to reinvest in their process to keep this reinvention going for decades on end. These are the real heroes in history.”
Those who share my high regard for this book are urged to check out the just published 10th Anniversary Edition of The Cluetrain Manifesto co-authored by Rick Levine, Christopher Locke, Doc Searls, and David Weinberger ; also, Bill Jensen and Josh Klein’s Hacking Work: Breaking Stupid Rules for Smart Results, and Rework, co-authored by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson.
A comprehensive, cohesive, and cost-effective methodology to achieve breakthrough results
In Leading Change, James O’Toole suggests that much (most?) of the resistance to change initiatives is the result of what he so aptly characterizes as “the ideology of comfort and the tyranny of custom.” Roger Connors and Tom Smith fully agree. In a previous collaboration, The Oz Principle, they explain how to get desired results through individual and organizational accountability. They introduce Steps to Accountability, a sequence of actions: See It (i.e. recognize what must be done), Own It (i.e. make an investment in as well as a commitment to getting it done), Solve It (i.e. recognize and eliminate barriers with whatever resources may be needed), and Do It (i.e. producing the right results in the right way, as promised). Connors and Smith also suggest that people tend to live and work (most of the time) either above or below “The Line” that divides accountable behavior from behavior that is not.
As they note, “We use the term ‘result,’ rather than ‘goal’ because result implies that either you will achieve something or that you have already achieved it. In contrast, ‘goal’ suggests that you would like to have something happen, but might not accomplish it. A goal tends to be hopeful and directional, but not absolute.” In this context, I reminded of what Thomas Edison observed long ago: “Vision without execution is hallucination.” Apparently the Yoda agrees: “Do or do not. There is no try.”
Connors and Smith devote Part One (Chapters 1-5) to explaining how to create a Culture of Accountability, define the results to be achieved, take effective action to produce them, identify core believes that guide and direct behavior, provide experiences that support efforts, and reinforce results to sustain their beneficial impact. In Part Two (Chapters 6-10), they explain how to align cultural values with change initiatives, apply effective three Culture Management Tools they recommend (i.e. focused feedback, focused storytelling, celebration of incremental progress), and three skills needed to move the culture from where it has been to where it should be (i.e. Lead the Change, Respond to the Feedback, and Be Facilitative). Obviously, it would be a fool’s errand to adopt and then attempt to apply all of Connors and Smith’s recommendations. It remains for each reader to select what is most relevant and responsive to her or his needs and those of her or his organization.
With regard to buy-in of the plan, once formulated, Connors and Smith suggest and then discuss Five Principles of Full Enrollment (Pages 196-213):
1. Start with accountability
2. Get people ready for the change.
3. Begin with the top and intact teams.
4. Establish a process control and keep it honest.
5. Design for maximum involvement.
Those who need additional assistance with achieving full (or at least maximum) enrollment, I highly recommend John Kotter’s A Sense of Urgency and his more recent book, Buy-In: Saving Your Good Idea from Getting Shot Down, co-authored with Lorne A. Whitehead. For supplementary readings, I also highly recommend Dean Spitzer’s Transforming Performance Measurement: Rethinking the Way We Measure and Drive Organizational Success and Enterprise Architecture As Strategy: Creating a Foundation for Business Execution, co-authored by Jeanne W. Ross, Peter Weill, and David Robertson.
According to Paul Sullivan, “Clutch, simply put, is the ability to do what you do normally under immense pressure. It is also something that goes far beyond the world of sport. And while it has a mental component, it is not a mystical ability, nor somehow willing yourself to greatness…Being under great pressure is hard work. This is part of the reason why we are so impressed by people who seem immune to choking. These people come through in the clutch when others don’t…Just because someone is clutch in one area of his life does not mean he will be clutch in others…Transferring what you can do in a relaxed atmosphere to a tenser one is not easy – or else everyone would be clutch.”
That said, we now understand why Sullivan wrote this book: To share what he learned while seeking the answers two questions: First, “Why are some people so much better under pressure than other, seemingly equally talented people?” In response to the first question, Sullivan organizations his material according to six themes (Focus, Discipline, Adapting, Being present, Fear and Desire, and Double Clutch) and devotes a separate chapter to each. Then in Part II, he shifts his attention to explaining why some people choke and others don’t…why people choker in some situations…and nit in others. He also examines the implications and possible consequences of “overthinking.” Then, “Can people be clutch if they are not regularly in high-pressure situations?” Sullivan devotes Part III, “How to Be Clutch,” to answering the second question.
I especially appreciate how Sullivan anchors his observations and insights in a human context. For example, there is much of great value to learn from his discussion of the renowned attorney, David Boies, in the first chapter. “Early in his career, he started to focus on the same two questions for every trial. ‘First, what are the facts,’ he told me. ‘And then, second, what are the basic principles of the law here – not what were the detailed holdings of fifty cases, but just what are the basic principles of law that apply to this area’…Boies’s focus on having a clear understanding of the issues and laws creates a solid foundation. He builds the morality play around that. However, it is not the play that helps him excel under pressure but his focus on telling the story in court. This ability allows him to withstand the immense pressure of any high-profile trial.”
Boies and other exemplars throughout the book commit years of time and effort to becoming able to excel despite indescribably severe pressure in one or two domains of their lives…but not in all. Tiger Woods is clutch during competition in golf but has encountered well-publicized problems in other areas. Few (if any) of those who read this book will be sufficiently talented to achieve success in competition with Boies or with Woods but everyone who reads this book can – over time and with sufficient concentration – manage more effectively stress and the pressures that create it. One final point: What Paul Sullivan learned and then shares in this book will be of substantial benefit to those who wish to alleviate or isolate and block out stress as well as to those who must cope with it.
Those who have read Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything (2008) already know that Don Tapscott and Anthony Williams favor the “open” organizational model based on three basic principles: transparency, inclusiveness, and collaboration. Refinements of that model can (and often do) reflect the influence of Charles Darwin (e.g. the concept of a process of natural selection) and Joseph Schumpeter (e.g. the concept of creative destruction). Those who wish to learn more about the model itself are urged to check out two books by Henry Chesbrough, Open Innovation and Open Business Models.
What differentiates this book from its predecessor? Tapscott and Williams have extended their scope, as indicated in this passage when they observe that “a powerful new form of economic and social innovation” is sweeping across all sectors and, indeed, all continents, “one where people with drive, passion, and expertise take advantage of new Web-based tools to get more involved in making the world more prosperous, just, and sustainable.” In a phrase, “global wikinomics.” That is to say, Tapscott and Williams have extended the scope and depth of mass collaboration to include any/all social networks worldwide that wish to be connected and interactive.
I agree with them that there is indeed an “historic opportunity to marshal human skill, ingenuity, and intelligence on a mass scale to reevaluate and reposition many of our institutions for the coming decades and for future generations.” This will require massive and – here’s the greatest challenge – simultaneous collaborative transformation of all traditional institutions (e.g. social, political, educational, and financial). I also agree with French president Nicholas Sarkozy’s assertion, “This is not just a global financial crisis, it is a crisis of globalization.”
Here are three of several reasons why I hold this book in such high regards:
1. It makes a strong case for understanding problems that exist today and will almost certainly become worse.
2. It also makes a strong case for understanding how to solve those problems with resources that did not exist or were insufficient until recently (e.g. technologies that support social networks).
3. It provides the authors’ passionate and compelling affirmation of their faith that the “new future” can be forged.
Tapscott and Williams conclude, “Three hundred years ago Martin Luther called the printing press ‘God’s highest act of grace.’ With today’s communications breakthroughs we have an historic occasion to reboot business and the world using wikinomics principles as our guide. Because each of us can participate in this new renaissance, it is surely an amazing time to be alive. Hopefully we will have the collective wisdom to seize the time.”
I include this last passage to indicate that this book is not at operations manual; rather, it is a manifesto. Tapscott and Williams are pilgrims on a mission and they invite their reader to join them.