Peter DiGiammarino : Part 2 of an interview by Bob Morris

D13_041_019Peter DiGiammarino is a senior executive with 35 years of success leading businesses that target tight public and private markets around the world. In addition to running companies, he serves public, private, private-equity-owned, and venture-capital-backed software and services firms as an adviser and/or board member and has consistently helped them to achieve their full potential to perform and grow. As a leader who has served successful companies in the role of CEO, Peter knows how to develop and lead teams of high-powered, driven professionals. His emphasis is to create and implement plans that are true to the organization’s market, offerings, competence, and purpose. Peter currently serves as Chairman of Compusearch and advises a dozen other organizations as CEO of IntelliVen. He is based in San Francisco, California. He is also adjunct professor in the Organization Development program at the University of San Francisco where the workbook he authored, Manage to Lead: Seven Truths to Help You Change the World, is used to teach a course he developed on Organization Analysis and Strategy. His book, Manage to Lead: Seven Truths to Help You Change the World, was published by IntelliVen (July 2013).

Here is an excerpt from Part 2. To read all of that interview, please click here.

* * *Morris: When and why did you decide to write Manage to Lead?

DiGiammarino: I have been writing consolidated insights based on lessons learned since undergraduate days. My first work-study job was to draft a procedures manual for the computer center to train new employees and to find ways to be more efficient. As a leader, I learned it was smart to write-up and distribute lessons learned to save others the trouble of learning again what had already been figured out. I stopped far short of writing a book, though, because it seemed that a book was nothing more than a heavy business card written primarily to gratify the ego of its author.

In 2010, American University asked me to organize a class based on what I had learned about developing successful organizations. My Teaching Assistant and I organized volumes of material into the seven truths and developed slides and scripts to cover each in detail. Students eventually suggested that the slides and script be handed out ahead so class time could be spent learning how to put the material to work rather than listening to me tell them what they could have read. Suddenly, it became clear that my content in book-form solves a real problem.

Still, I worried that AU would think I was just trying to make money selling slides in book-form to students who would have no choice but to buy them. When I shared my concern with my eldest daughter, she said: “Come-on Pops! Get over it and just write the darn book!” My wife piled-on saying the content deserved to be more polished and that working on a book would improve the product. Both were right!

At first I wanted to publish the content on a Web site thinking it more accessible to more people. I found that Web sites and blog posts are good for developing, organizing, and storing content but not so accessible to mass audiences who are conditioned to referencing books. After over 100 blog posts, more or less one for each of the slides used to lead 38 hours of classroom content, I organized them into the eight sections of the book.

Morris: Were there any head-snapping revelations while writing it? Please explain.

DiGiammarino: When I asked friends who authored books what they had learned from the experience, it became clear that an author is a customer of his/her publishing company though most authors think otherwise until they have been through the process. Also, I wanted to target early- and mid-career professionals who are more comfortable with digital content integrated with templates on I also wanted to easily add and push-out new content as it evolved in a way that reader could access for no additional fee Publishers are not yet geared to support such an approach so I looked for a way to self-publish.

I came upon Inkling, the largest distributor of interactive, digital college textbooks and worked with their content management platform, Habitat and a third party, Innodata, to load the text, work problems, links, and graphics into interactive, digital form. Inkling, Habitat, and Innodata are outstanding to work with as they transform the way academics and professionals share and monetize original content. The Inkling version is accessible from PC, pad, or phone. Other advantages of the interactive version:

o Syncs between devices in real time, regardless of one’s Mac, PC, and mobile device preference.

o Includes self-assessments and work problems which help ensure that material is being actively learned as opposed to being mindlessly skimmed.

o Allows users to record notes in the text itself while reading or in class; notes are easily shared with instructors and classmates and in real-time to support running discussions as desired. Particularly helpful notes can be starred for easy reference later.

o Allows highlighting, search, glossary look-up, private or public annotations, animation, slideshows, puzzles, and social media sharing.

o Links to templates that can be filled out to put content to use as soon as it is learned.

Manage to Lead also had to be available in softcover from Amazon because most readers (unlike college students) are still conditioned to buy and read books in paper form which was accomplished using Amazon’s self-publishing platform known as CreateSpace.

To what extent (if any) does the book in final form differ significantly from what you originally envisioned?

DiGiammarino: My daughter’s original suggestion was that it be a workbook for students and clients; and that is exactly what it is, just as initially envisioned.

Morris: In your opinion, what are the most significant differences between great leadership and great management?

DiGiammarino: I agree with those that say you manage things and lead people but you also manage things in order to lead people so the two are not so much different when intertwined in great leaders. That ties in with the double meaning of the title of my book. Manage to Lead helps you to

o Manage yourself to do things that every leader ought to do and when you do them you are de facto leading.

o Squeak by in the role of leader even when you do not happen to be a born leader but you are a good manager!

Morris: Can great leadership be managed?

DiGiammarino: Even great leaders can and should be managed: by themselves, by their board, and/or by their team. The very thesis of Manage to Lead is that following the advice there-in helps any person, even a great leader, better serve in the role.

Morris: In your opinion, why do so many organizations have such a difficult time retaining their most valuable employees?

DiGiammarino: It is a badge of honor and a sign of greatness for an organization’s best people to leave in order to take top roles elsewhere. Consider, for example, how Mckinsey spawned future leaders of American Express (Golub) and IBM (Gerstner). GE has also made its stellar reputation grooming top CEOs but keeping only one for itself. As described in Reid Hoffman’s recent book (Alliance), jobs are projects, not life sentences. A career is best thought of as a mosaic of experiences across many organizations. Jim Collins once told me that the most an individual can do in one organization is a tour of about seven years. In my case it was two seven-year stints that necessarily had to end in leaving. It is inevitable that the best will leave. The wise strategy is for leaders to make the most of valuable employees while they have them.

Morris: Opinions are sharply divided about the importance of charisma to effective leadership. What do you think?

DiGiammarino: I have little use for charisma all by itself but it can come in handy. For example:

o When on the brink of disaster, such as when funding levels drop precipitously overnight as in 2008, an organization leader needs to resist temptation to squirrel away behind a closed door to figure out the exact right things to do and, instead, personally stand and deliver in front of the troops a message that compels them to follow.

o People in an organization need to be known, liked, respected, appreciated, and admired by others, especially by the leaders. The CEO does not need to be on a first name basis with every employee but each needs to feel like a person of importance and the leader needs to make sure it happens.

* * *

To read all of Part 2, please click here.

To read Part 1, please click here.

Peter cordially invites you to check out the resources at these websites: web site that features a blog of tips and tools for getting organizations on track to fulfill their potential to perform and grow; subscribe to receive 2-3 short posts per month at no cost) (sample vision, mission, values) (HBR: strategy & change) (strategy & leading change) change) books for non-profits) assessment of national financial activity) (international site connecting MBAs and aspiring MBAs with key topics and each other) (for nonprofits) (graphic tools for strategy, change, et al) inquiry) (evaluation and measurement) (emotional intelligence) (cultural transformation/values) of life, development tools for people and organizations) and other resources for CEOs)

TWITTER accounts to consider following:


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