First Friday Book Synopsis

"…like CliffNotes on steroids…"

The servant as leader or the leader as servant?

Robert K. Greenleaf is generally credited with developing ideas we now refer to as “servant leadership.”As he explains in his eponymous essay (first published in 1970),  The Servant as Leader, and later developed into a book,

“The servant-leader is servant first… It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That person is sharply different from one who is leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions…The leader-first and the servant-first are two extreme types. Between them there are shadings and blends that are part of the infinite variety of human nature.

“The difference manifests itself in the care taken by the servant-first to make sure that other people’s highest priority needs are being served. The best test, and difficult to administer, is: Do those served grow as persons? Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants? And, what is the effect on the least privileged in society? Will they benefit or at least not be further deprived?”

In Serve to Lead®: Your Transformational 21st Century Leadership System, James M. Strock provides a cohesive, comprehensive, and cost-effect system that will enable aspiring leaders to understand what Martin Luther King, Jr., meant when asserting that “everyone can be great, because everyone can serve…You don’t have to have a college degree to serve, You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve…You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love.” You also need what Strock offers in this book: an abundance of practical advice that will provide invaluable assistance as the reader proceeds through the four-week process which is central to Strock’s “Serve to Lead” system. Throughout his lively and thought-provoking narrative, he anchors his insights in real-world situations and rigorously examines the major leadership styles and those who best exemplify them.

I recently re-read Greenleaf’s and Strock’s books because our nation is in desperate need of servers who lead as well as leaders who serve.

Servers who lead may not have impressive titles or positions of authority but they do have something far more important: The moral authority of a sincere desire to take initiatives that will make a positive difference, a determination to make the world better or at least less inhumane. For example, those Christians in Europe who sheltered Jews from the Gestapo during Hitler’s reign of terror did so knowing that, if caught, they and their loved ones would be summarily executed or forced to accompany Jews into the ovens.

Servers who lead may not have impressive titles and or positions of authority but they do have something far more important: The moral authority of a sincere desire to take initiatives that will make a positive difference, a determination to make the world better or at least more humane. For example, those Christians in Europe who sheltered Jews from the Gestapo during Hitler’s reign of terror did so knowing that, if caught, they would be summarily executed or forced to accompany Jews into the ovens.

We also need more leaders who see themselves as servants, women and men who are in positions of authority who consider it a privilege to serve the best interests of those entrusted to their care, for whom they have fiduciary responsibility.

According to an ancient African proverb, it takes a village to raise a child.

What must a nation do to raise the leaders it needs? I have some ideas. What do you think?


Thursday, August 4, 2011 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Edward M. (“Ned”) Hallowell: An interview by Bob Morris

Are you looking for practical, how-to solutions to life’s personal challenges? Best selling author Dr. Edward (“Ned”) Hallowell offers groundbreaking advice on how to survive in an ultra-competitive, ultra fast, attention deficit society while remaining sane, how to raise happy children, the art of forgiveness and how to manage worry. He also offers a prescriptive guide that shows how to get the most out of life with Attention Deficit Disorder.

A graduate of Harvard College and Tulane School of Medicine, Hallowell is a child and adult psychiatrist and the founder of The Hallowell Center for Cognitive and Emotional Health in Sudbury, MA. He was a member of the faculty of the Harvard Medical School from 1983 to 2004.

Dr. Hallowell is considered to be one of the foremost experts on the topic of ADHD. He is the co-author, with Dr. John Ratey, of Driven to Distraction and Answers to Distraction, which have sold more than a million copies. In 2005, Drs. Hallowell and Ratey released their much-awaited third book on ADHD, Delivered from Distraction. “Delivered” provides updated information on the treatment of ADHD and more on adult ADHD.

Dr. Hallowell’s most recent book, Shine: Using Brain Science to Get the Best from Your People was published January 17, 2011. In Shine, Dr. Hallowell draws on brain science, performance research, and his own experience helping people maximize their potential to present a proven process for getting the best from your people. He introduces the 5 steps in the Cycle of Excellence: Select, Connect, Play, Grapple and Grow, and Shine. He shows how each step is critical in its own right and translates into actions a manager or worker can do and do now to propel their people to excellence.

Here is an excerpt from my interview of Ned Hallowell.

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Morris: For those who have not as yet read Shine, you recall in it an encounter with an old man at Boston’s Logan Airport. Please explain the significance of that encounter.

Hallowell: When I met this old man who shined shoes, it was like meeting an angel in disguise. He had multiple sclerosis, had to use a walker to get around, looked to be in his 70’s, but had the zest for life of a 10 year old. He peppered me with questions, trying to find my own personal hot spot or passion. He said, “I gotta ask fast because I only get as long as a shoeshine to ask you.” He urged people to reach out, to take the chance, saying that was his great reward every day as he shined shoes. “I try to put a shine on people’s souls, not just their shoes.” He called himself “Dr. Shine” and I dedicated my book to him because I believed he represented the very best in what people should be and to do achieve peak performance. Here was a man shining shoes at Logan Airport, dealing with M.S., somehow getting himself to work every day, and doing his job with more gusto and passion than just about anyone you could imagine.

Morris: In layman’s terms, please explain how using brain science can help to get a peak performance when completing each of five steps of the Cycle of Excellence. First, selection.

Hallowell: You brain does its best when it is doing a task it can do well. That’s basic brain science. Yet many people persist in the wrong job, trying year after year to get good at what they’re bad at or at what they dislike. Like marrying the wrong person, working in the wrong job is a prescription for a life of toil-and-groan. Put simply, select refers to matching a person with whatever and whoever is right for that person. It could be a job or an assignment, it could be a wife or a doubles partner in tennis. When selections are right, they make people shine because they’re happy, they feel fulfilled, and they are eager to do well.

On numerous occasions, Jack Welch observed that “getting the right people in the right jobs is a lot more important than developing strategy.” That’s what Jim Collins has in mind, in Good to Great, when he urges business leaders to get the wrong people off the bus and get the right people on the bus. Young people beginning a career need to realize that there are lots of “buses” in life. More often than not, selecting which one to be on determines success or failure, joy or despair.

Morris: Next, connection.

Hallowell: Connection is the golden key to all that’s good in life. Disconnection leads to most of what’s bad in life. “Dr. Shine” intuitively knew this, and he dedicated his life to connecting with people, helping them to open up and get past fear. Fear shuts people down. When you feel safe, your brain is free to soar. When you feel in danger, your brain goes into survival mode, not peak performance mode. Too many people feel unsafe at work, under toxic pressures, and stretched too thin. They are literally about to snap. Within an atmosphere of trust and what I call connection, a supervisor can create conditions under which people’s brains can set aside fear and fly high.

Morris: Next, play.

Hallowell: By play I do not mean the traditional sense of play, what kids do at recess, goofing off. By play I refer to the highest activity of the human mind, any activity in which the imagination lights up and gets involved. This is what we humans can do so well and machines can’t at all.

Doing exactly what they’re told, following human or electronic commands, is what machines do best. They can be valuable to our efforts but that cannot be the standard of excellence for humans at work. We ought to do everything possible to get people fully and imaginatively engaged with whatever it is they are doing, just as I am engaged fully and imaginatively as I express these thoughts. In a state of play, of imaginative engagement, people do their best, their most innovative work.

Here, again, the importance of select and connect are obvious. Supervisors must make the right choices and some of these choices will help people to connect with their work, yes, but also with each other and, most importantly, with what they really want to do, with what they enjoy doing most and (I’ll bet) with what they do best. Teresa Amabile expressed the best career advice during a commencement speech at Stanford about 15 years ago: “Love what you do and do what you love.”

Think about it. Some of the most closely connected people are those who play games together. The greatest teams (Walt Disney’s animators, John Wooden’s U.C.L.A. basketball teams, the Manhattan Project, Red Auerbach’s Celtics teams, Lockheed’s “Skunk Works”) possessed exceptional “chemistry” because they loved doing what they did together and could not do alone. They would later exclaim, “We had a ball!” I agree with Stuart Brown, founder of the National Institute for Play, that play drives creativity. It creates a sense of joy and, in process, helps to generate some of our most creative ideas.

Morris: Then, what you characterize as “grapple and grow”

Hallowell: This is the step traditionally regarded as the key to peak performance: hard work. And yes, hard work is key. But it is not the only key nor is it the key. Managers typically jump in at this step. But you will never achieve peak performance unless you first tend to steps 1 – 3: select, connect, and play. Then, and only then, will you get the full turbo power of a mind on fire.

For more than 20 years, Anders Ericsson at Florida State University has conducted research on peak performance. The results of his efforts leave no doubt that both talent and hard work are frequently overrated. Once again, select and connect are critically important. Those who aspire to peak performance must make the right choices in terms of what they practice and connect with someone who will provide strict and expert supervision while they practice. Then they must “grapple and grow” throughout (on average) 10,000 hours of practice. There are no guarantees, of course. Here’s the key point for workplace supervisors: Keep in mind that most people love to work, given the tight conditions, if you help them to select, connect, activate their imaginations with play, and grapple with the inevitable drudgery that growth requires.

Morris: What about setting limits and holding workers personally accountable?

Hallowell: All human beings need order and structure in their lives and that always involves some reasonable limits. Also, the healthiest cultures are those in which there is mutual trust and respect. The Golden Rule is alive and well. People really do care about each other. They understand that all “games” have rules to follow, rules that serve the common interests. We are well-advised to remember, however, what 3M’s then chairman and CEO, William McKnight, said in 1924: “If you put fences around people, you get sheep. Give people the room they need.” He wasn’t just talking about physical space. He also meant mental, emotional, and (yes) spiritual space.

Morris: Finally, shine.

Hallowell: Life at its best. A person working in the zone. “Dr. Shine” shining shoes and souls, or you doing whatever you do when you are doing your best. It is the greatest feeling in the world. When we shine, we defy death for the moment. We enter into a state of immersion in the craft we ply, a state in which we become one with what we do. For those precious moments we shine…and what we do often shines long after we’re done. In addition, the recognition a manager — or anyone else — gives when someone shines helps to consolidate loyalty and promote motivation.

People who shine keep shining and help others to shine. They are motivated. They feel connected to their team, the group, and the organization. They become extremely loyal and want to help others in the organization to advance. Shining completes the Cycle of Excellence but I hasten to add that it is sustainable only if people are “polished” by the respect and trust of their supervisor and colleagues.

*      *      *

To read the complete interview, please click here.

Ned Hallowell cordially invites you to check out the resources at these websites:

Several brief films about peak performance, “Success with Sanity,” adult ADD and ADHD, and various other subjects:

Thursday, August 4, 2011 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | Leave a comment

Don’t Be Blinded By Common Recruitment Myths

Here is an article written by Paul Harty for Talent Management magazine (8/4/11). To check out all the resources and sign up for a free subscription to the TM and Chief Learning Officer magazines published by MedfiaTec, please click here.

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While concerns must be addressed, talent leaders should be careful not to allow recruitment myths to delay business-critical hiring.

As the recovery gains momentum, talent managers are expected to quickly recruit the right people for many new and replacement positions using fewer resources. While all recruitment concerns are legitimate and must be addressed, talent leaders should be careful not to allow recruitment myths to delay taking the most efficient and effective course of action on business-critical hiring.

[Here are the first two myths that Harty discusses. To read the complete article, please click here.]

Myth 1: Filling a high volume of hard-to-fill positions is nearly impossible. A hard-to-fill position requires a unique or specialized skill set that can sometimes be difficult to find either because few people have it or so many companies need it. The competition for people with scarce, in-demand skills is high.

For example, lithium ion battery engineers, who have highly specific knowledge, are in great demand these days. Every automaker, battery manufacturer and alternative energy provider needs to hire them. Another factor contributing to the difficulty of finding the right person for a hard-to-fill position is geographic location. The local labor pool may be too small or the location itself may not be attractive to viable candidates.

Managers who fail in this situation don’t know how to create talent pools and how to source creatively enough to fill the volume. What’s needed to fill volume is to understand the parameters of what makes the job hard to fill in the first place, and then to mine underutilized sourcing channels to build specifically skilled candidate pools.

Talent managers can start by digging into their competitors to find candidates with experience, or look at colleges for graduates with relevant degrees. They should think about how to motivate qualified people to move to the geographic location and offer incentives to make the company more attractive than competitors. Talent managers looking for candidates with a specific skill set both immediately and over time can tap into popular social media tools to build communities of people who do that type of work. Moving on from the post-and-pray approach into strategic candidate pooling allows them to fill a high volume of hard-to-fill positions.

Myth 2: Hiring for volume means you need to sacrifice quality. When hiring a lot of people in a short period of time, the speed imperative can make it feel like quality will have to suffer — but the truth is it doesn’t have to. To maintain a high level of candidate quality when moving quickly, managers may need to divide the tasks among teams of recruiters. By doing so, managers can drive more of a lean approach to managing the volume. It’s the same principle as Henry Ford’s assembly line: While it takes a long time for one person to build one car and manufacturing that one car is very expensive, it is much faster to have teams of people building specific parts of many cars; and the more cars you build, the less expensive they are. This model can work just as well in recruitment; it’s efficient because the workflow is streamlined. Taking a lean team approach to driving volume hiring can help maximize candidate quality as well as efficiency.

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Paul Harty is president of Seven Step Recruiting, prior to which he has built and run recruiting businesses for more than 15 years. He can be reached at


Thursday, August 4, 2011 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment



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