Emmanuel Gobillot: Part 2 of an interview by Bob Morris


Gobillot, Emmanuel“There must be a better way.”

That’s the motto Emmanuel Gobillot has adopted toward everything he does. As one of the world’s most popular speakers, consultants, and thought-leaders, he believes there is a better way to lead, relate to customers, and engage an organisation’s creativity, passion, and drive. The author of three bestselling books: The Connected Leader, Leadershift, and Follow the Leader, Gobillot gives audiences the tools to see inside their organisations in order to find a better way.

Prior to setting up his boutique consulting business Gobillot worked at the Hay Group, where he was head of consumer sector consulting and director of leadership services. He has worked with various organisations to develop their senior executive capability and to improve efficiency and return.

In The Connected Leader: Creating Agile Organisations for People, Performance and Profits, published by KoganPage, Gobillot redefines both leadership and our idea of what an organisation is, proposing a new focus and new tools to make organisations more agile. Leadershift makes the case that critical demographic and technological trends are coming together to challenge the very essence of what it means to be in business. In his subsequent book, Follow the Leader: The One Thing Great Leaders Have that Great Followers Want, also published by KoganPage, he explains why he thinks that the “one great thing” is charisma. and creates a frame of reference within which he anchors that belief for discussion of what continues to be a controversial subject: the importance of charisma. Opinions are divided, sometimes sharply divided, about that. My own opinion is that, like an expensive fragrance, charisma smells good but we shouldn’t drink it.

Gobillot holds an International Baccalaureate from the United World College of the Atlantic, a Masters of Arts with honours from St. Andrews University, and a Diploma in Management Science from the Nottingham Trent University.

Here is an excerpt from Part 2 of my interview of Emmanuel.

* * *

Morris: When and why did you decide to write The Connected Leader?

Gobillot: Whilst I would not necessarily want to describe the book as being as amazing as a pearl. I like to think I wrote it for the same reason an oyster makes a pearl: out of sheer irritation. I was tired of living in an either/or bipolar world where everything was always at either end of a spectrum (either structure or culture, either soft or hard, either leadership or management, either big or small etc). I was given a lot of latitude in my work at HayGroup to explore ideas and try to solve issues for clients so I decided to focus on trying to reconcile some of those issues.

In my consulting practice I was always struck by the idea that when we talked about organisations we always actually talked about broadly two distinct entities, one being the structures, processes and hierarchies which need to be optimised and the other, the social networks that form the culture of the organisations that needed to be shaped. I have come to call them the formal and the real organisations and like to think of the latter as the company (for the Latin root of the word which means “breaking bread together”).

My idea was that we were fundamentally misguided as leaders by trying to work on those two at different times and in different ways. Rather, to get the most out of the organisation we need to reconnect the company to the organisation. The formal organisation is critical but is also dead; it is a critical process but only a process. To succeed we must channel the energy of the real organisation to the delivery of the formal objectives. This led me to think about the steps necessary to do this.

Having spoken to a number of people about this over the years I was encouraged to share the ideas first on stage which led many to ask for articles and eventually a book. The thing about our work is that we don’t actually make anything and I always saw books as the closest to a product we consultants can have. I love books and the craft of writing so I didn’t hesitate long to give it a go.

Morris: To what extent (if any) does the book in final form differ [begin italics] significantly [end significantly] from what you originally envisioned?

Gobillot: That’s a great question because, it being my first book, I had no idea what the editing process would entail and bar some grammatical changes I did expect the book to remain mainly unchanged. In fact, the end product is different in two ways. First from a content perspective the book has benefited from challenges from a number of people and is a lot clearer and more practical as a result. As much as I love words and rhetoric I needed a lot of help getting rid of superfluous alliterations so the ideas would speak more clearly to the reader. But as well as content the book changed dramatically in terms of form. I had not at first envisaged the diagnostic instruments that ended up in the final version nor did I start the early drafts with recaps, summaries and short, titled paragraphs. These all emerged as part of the editing process, and, given how keen reviewers seemed to have been on the use of those devices I have adopted them in different form ever since.

Morris: As I indicate in my review of the book for various Amazon websites, there are dozens of passages throughout your narrative that caught my eye.

For those who have not as yet read the book, please suggest what you view as the most important point or key take-away in each of these passages. First, The Connected Leadership Concept (Pages 5-6)

Gobillot: Spend your time thinking how do I reconnect the energy of my followers to the delivery of the formal objective rather than how do I optimise the structures I operate under or try to create motivation in others. People are always motivated, your role is to find and channel that motivation.

Morris: What Are the New Rules of Engagement? (20-26)

Gobillot: We are in a world where the boundaries between personal and social have become blurred and harder to define. Whilst a child would either play a game on their own or go out and meet friends they can now do both of these things at the same time. We have learnt a new way of being “alone together and together alone” which has fundamental implications for the way we think of our organisations.

Morris: How Do Organizations and Individuals Become Disconnected? (32-43)

Gobillot: Whilst organisations rely on roles, rules and economic incentives to work, relationships operate with individuals, reciprocity and social and moral obligations as their guiding principles. The problem is that not only can both be at odds with each other but often they will contradict each other.

Morris: What Does an Organization Designed for Engagement Look Like? (43-48)

Gobillot: An organisation designed for engagement recognises the value of the social networks that both help individuals self-actualise and provides the oil that makes the formal organisation work. It strives to connect the two together by engineering meaning rather than processes.

Morris: What Do Leaders Do? (64-69)

Gobillot: Connected leaders recognise that their role is to make others feel stronger and more capable.

Morris: What Impact Do Leaders Create? (69-77)

Gobillot: Your credibility with others relies on recognising five key elements of effective impact. The first three make you important to follow – utility (there is value for me in the relationship), reciprocity (you see me as also bringing value) and integrity (the relationship is safe) whilst the last two make it easy for you to be followed – warmth (the relationship is fun) and maintenance (the relationship is easy to main – a challenge if you have remote teams).

* * *

To check out all of part 2, here.

To read Part 1, please click here.

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

His website link

His Amazon link

Here’s a link to a video of his presentation to the HayGroup

Here’s another link to a video of his presentation at Google.

Twitter link

This link is to a more recent program during which he discusses some of the early thoughts that are going into his next book.

A link to a meeting for entrepreneurs of growing businesses

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