What Makes Millennials Good Leaders

It’s dangerous to paint entire generations with the same brush; some tendencies or narratives can quickly become exaggerated. On the subject of Millennials and leadership, two conflicting stories often emerge: the first, that Millennials want a fast track to leadership roles without being willing to pay their dues; the second, that Millennials are not willing to accept the sacrifices — working long hours at the expense of family — expected of leaders.

A recent global study by France’s INSEAD shows that some of these narratives are misleading. According to the study, based on interviews with thousands of Millennials in 43 countries, 70 percent of the Millennials considered becoming a leader “important” or “very important,” and nearly 64 percent said they were willing to work longer hours and have more stress for the opportunities to be leaders. While past studies and books might focus on Millennials in their role as future leaders, a new book declares that the future has arrived. Millennials Who Manage: How to Overcome Workplace Perceptions and Become a Great Leader, by Chip Espinoza and Joel Schwarzbart, is written for and not about Millennial leaders and managers. Step by step, the authors lay out the challenges and best practices for Millennial managers already in leadership positions or preparing for the next step. The authors use their own surveys and research as sources for their prescriptions.

Because of their youth, Millennial managers immediately face unique challenges…

 

To learn what these specific challenges are, sign up for our FREE Executive Book Alert newsletter today!

 

Guest Blog, Part II: Specific Secrets that Prevent Leaders from Success

Webinar: How to Win Big in Business and in LifePart II of AmyK Hutchens’ guest blog on the specific secrets that prevent leaders from achieving greater success faster.

Don’t forget to sign up for AmyK’s webinar:
How to Win Big in Business and in Life
Date: Thursday, February 4, 2016
Time: 12:00 PM

 

(Continuation of Part I)

  1. Likeability Malady Leaders do not wake up and consciously think, “What can I do today to get my followers to like me?” However, they often avoid conflict by choosing harmony over discord and choosing likeability over criticism.

When leaders focus on being liked, they unconsciously attempt to please the people they’re leading, and people-pleasing can lead to a lack of clarity, integrity and truth about what they stand for, where they’re going and why. People-pleasing alienates followers and fractures the group, reaping the exact opposite of what they were trying to do – gather people together for a common cause, a common goal, a common destination. When leaders focus too much on being liked, they lose the courage to say what needs to be said or do what needs to done. This lack of courage generates missed opportunities and yields diluted results.

Focusing on leading does not require leaders to abandon kindness. Behaving in a likeable manner, showing mercy, offering forgiveness, and demonstrating self-respect conveys leadership and yields results—a bonus, ironic byproduct is that others followers often like leaders more when they’re focused on leading instead of worrying about likeability. Instead of trying to be everything to all people, leaders need to be themselves in order to maintain integrity in their words and actions. Those that follow them will do so because they believe in the authenticity of the leader and his or her ultimate mission.

  1. Comparison Condition is one of the worst forms of self-abuse. Many leaders are so busy comparing themselves to other businesses and/or other leaders, living in a world of “should haves” and “should bes,” that they lose focus on their own path to success. When leaders compare themselves to everything and everyone, they end up taking detours, trying out other peoples’ paths. They dilute their talent and ultimately lose their mojo. When leaders lose their sense of self, when they drift too far, they often burn out and lose their followers. Staying on their own path is integral to focus, productivity, performance and results. It’s hard to charge full-steam ahead when you’re always looking sideways.

 

When leaders are willing to expose the secrets they keep – even if only to themselves, and work through them – they can positively and exponentially transform their business success. Often times, leaders say they pay a high price to chart a new course. The price leaders pay is a direct reflection of the secrets they keep.

 

AmyK Hutchens is the Founder of AmyK Inc., a firm specializing in leadership, innovation and sales Think Tanks. Recently awarded International Speaker of the Year by Vistage UK (World’s leading CEO membership organization), and the author of the Amazon bestseller, The Secrets Leaders Keep, AmyK is a catalyst for igniting brilliance in leaders. More than 40,000 executives in over nine countries have benefited from her keen insight and intuitive understanding of the issues leaders face. Learn even more at www.amyk.com. Follow AmyK on Twitter at @AmyKInc.

 

Guest Blog: Every Leader Has Secrets – What are Yours?

Today’s Guest Blogger is AmyK Hutchens, Founder of AmyK Inc., a firm specializing in leadership, innovation and sales Think Tanks. For more from AmyK, sign up for her webinar:

How to Webinar: How to Win Big in Business and in LifeWin Big in Business and in Life
Date: 
Thursday, February 4, 2016
Time:
12:00 PM
Speaker:
AmyK Hutchens

 

 

 

 

Every Leader Has Secrets – What are Yours?
by AmyK Hutchens

Part I

There are reasons why leaders pop antacids, drink a little too much, abuse their power, lose followers or fall from grace. Everyone keeps secrets and leaders are no exception. In fact, there are three specific secrets leaders share that prevent them from achieving greater success faster: Imposter Syndrome, Self-Criticism Fixation and Comparison Condition. These afflictions, when not dealt with, truncate success. However, when they are overcome, not only do they unleash potential, they help leaders meet and exceed their vision.

1. Imposter Syndrome is when leaders experience feelings of inadequacy and chronic self-doubt that persist even when results indicate that the opposite is true. Leaders often have the internal mantra, “I do not belong here. I’m not worthy of being taken seriously, and everyone will soon discover that I’m a fraud.” Unfortunately, many successful, smart, talented leaders believe they are neither good enough nor have enough to play in the coveted sandbox of “innovator and game changer.” These leaders end up behaving poorly in an attempt to cover up their fears. Leaders who fear being “caught” may avoid taking risks that could reveal their perceived inadequacies, or they settle for less, not believing they deserve better than mediocre results, mediocre talent or average opportunities. These fears undermine their success by manifesting real life mistakes and self-induced failures.

When leaders replace their feelings of inadequacy and paranoia about being discovered a “fraud” with a healthier, more realistic assessment about their strengths and contributions, they build self-confidence. Their confidence then helps them move forward with greater momentum. When leaders focus less on their skill-gaps and more on how best to leverage their gifts and talents, as well as the gifts and talents of those they lead, they create new value.

 

To continue reading about the other 2 secrets, Self-Criticism Fixation and Comparison Condition, check back next week for Part II of AmyK Hutchens’ Guest Blog.

How to Motivate Your Employees

Satisfy Their Psychological Needs
Human thriving in the workplace is a dynamic potential that requires nurturing. The workplace either facilitates, fosters and enables our flourishing, or it disrupts, thwarts and impedes it. In fact, conventional motivational practices have undermined more often than they’ve encouraged our human potential, according to Susan Fowler in Why Motivating People Doesn’t Work … and What Does.

Give Their Work Meaning
When meaning in our work is absent, we tend to disengage at some level. The provision of meaning is the solution for disengagement. When work has meaning, it drives the expenditure and investment of discretionary energy on a physical, cognitive and emotional level, Scott Mautz points out in Make It Matter. It’s the feeling that you matter and are making a difference; your engagement is paying off.

Provide Fulfilling Work
One of the most common marching orders for new leaders is to address a situation that is being presented as a workforce motivation problem, according to Jacob Stoller in The Lean CEO. Conventional wisdom in the early 1900s was that the manager-worker relationship was inherently adversarial and that the key weapons for ensuring a productive workforce were pay and threats. Psychological research since that time has shown that human motivation is far more complex than that.

Create a Winning Environment
The key to keep motivating people to perform at their best is to build self-esteem (which leads to self-confidence and self-respect) in each person who reports to you, Brian Tracy points out in Full Engagement! Each person has unlimited potential that the individual can bring to bear on the job, to do that job better and faster. People have huge reservoirs of creativity that can be unleashed to solve problems, overcome obstacles and achieve business goals.

 

To learn more about motivating your employees, subscribe to our Executive Edge newsletter and get the skills you need to get ahead.

The Top Soundview Live Webinars of 2015

In 2015 we have hosted 60 Soundview Live webinars with top business authors and leaders. So I went back to see which were our most popular. You may be surprised by those that made the list – or perhaps not.

Kory Kogon – The Path to Extraordinary Productivity: In this Soundview Live webinar Kory Kogon offers powerful insights drawn from the latest neuroscience and decades of experience and research in the time-management field to help you master your attention and energy management through five fundamental choices that will increase your ability to achieve what matters most to you.

Scott Eblin – Mindfulness Basics to Thrive in a 24/7 World: In this Soundview Live webinar Scott Eblin offers practical insights for the executive, manager or professional who feels like their RPM is maxed out in the red zone. By making the concepts and practices of mindfulness simple, practical and applicable, this event offers actionable hope for today’s overworked and overwhelmed professional.

Daniel Weiser – How to Become an Expert Negotiator: You may be a high-ranking CEO or a first day salesman, a service provider or self-employed. If you face encounters with your partners, clients, suppliers or employees, in which you want them to think differently at the end of the meeting and actually do what you want – this webinar is for YOU. The objective of this Soundview Live webinar with Daniel Weiser is to improve your negotiation skills and to move you one step closer to closing your deal.

Steve Shallenberger – How the BEST Leaders Ignite Energy and Fuel High Performance: In this Soundview Live webinar Steve Shallenberger will help you leverage the 12 principles that propel teams and organizations to the top! These tools and processes drive the kind of innovation that turns good teams and companies into industry leaders – all while living a well-balanced personal life. Steve will provide advice, tools and examples for turning your thoughts into action and bringing out the best in your teams and employees!

Daymond John – The Power of Branding: In this Soundview Live webinar Daymond John tells how four ordinary guys from Queens, New York, rose from street corners to corner offices and became the greatest trendsetters of our generation. He lays it all out on the line- his secrets to success, his triumphs, and his utter failures- to show what it takes to harness and display the power that resides in us all.

Marshall Goldsmith – How to Create Behavior Change that Lasts: In this powerful Soundview Live webinar, bestselling author and world-renowned executive coach Marshall Goldsmith examines the environmental and psychological triggers that can derail us at work and in life. Filled with revealing and illuminating stories from his work with some of the most successful chief executives and power brokers in the business world, Goldsmith offers a personal playbook on how to achieve change in our lives, make it stick, and become the person we want to be.

Ann Herrmann-Nehdi – Unlock the Power of Whole Brain Thinking: Filled with real-world examples and essential charts, exercises, action steps, and strategies, this Soundview Live webinar shows you how to rethink your business, prepare for the future, realign your goals, and reinvigorate your team — by putting your whole brain to work.

Neel Doshi & Lindsay McGregor- How to Build the Highest Performing Cultures: In this Soundview Live webinar Neel Doshi and Lindsay McGregor explain the counter-intuitive science behind great cultures, building on over a century of academic thinking. They share the simple, highly predictive new measurement tool—the Total Motivation (ToMo) Factor—that enables you to measure the strength of your culture, and track improvements over time.

Not surprisingly, six of the eight top events are about improving personal skills, rather than focusing on the business. Webinars are the perfect venue for personal development and that may have been their main attraction this year. If you had a favorite Soundview Live webinar this year, let us know by commenting on this blog.

The Best Business Books of 2015 (Part II)

As promised, here are the other 15 titles that made our Best Business Book of 2015 list, including our December titles that were just released over the weekend.

The New IT by Jill Dyche – Jill Dyché provides a new business model for building and strengthening the role of IT. By using field-tested techniques to align your IT department with your corporate objectives, you can leverage the power of technology across the entire company.

Design to Grow by Linda Tischler & David Butler – David Butler and Linda Tischler share the successes and failures of Coca-Cola as this large, global company learned to use design to create both scale and agility.

Make It Matter by Scott Mautz – Scott Mautz reveals that fostering meaning at work by giving workers a greater sense of significance is the key to motivation and engagement.

The High-Speed Company by Jason Jennings & Laurence Haughton – Jennings and Haughton share strategies and practices demonstrated by businesses with proven records of creating cultures with strong purpose, trust and follow-through.

The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz – Ben Horowitz tells it straight as he shares insights gained from developing, managing, selling, buying investing in and supervising technology companies.

Learning to Succeed by Jason Wingard – Corporate learning expert Jason Wingard proposes that to keep ahead of the competition, organizations should shift to embracing learning across the ranks and become dynamic learning organizations.

The Lean CEO by Jacob Stoller – Many companies and CEOs are finding that to do more with less, that they can find solutions in Lean management techniques to deliver sustainable financial results, empower and motivate employees, break down internal silos and build solid partnerships with customers and suppliers.

The Good Ones by Bruce Weinstein – Ethics expert Bruce Weinstein presents 10 crucial qualities associated with high-character employees that can enhance employee satisfaction, client relationships and the bottom line.

The Attacker’s Advantage by Ram Charan – Ram Charan provides proven tools to help leaders embrace uncertainty and develop the skills to be better prepared to lead.

Persuasion Equation by Mark Rodgers – This insightful guide by Mark Rodgers reveals what drives decisions and introduces the persuasion equation –– a powerful combination of factors proven to speed agreement.

Team Genius by Rich Karlgaard & Michael Malone – Rich Karlgaard and Michael S. Malone focus on the critical role of Informal teams within the core of successful companies.

The Achievement Habit by Bernard Roth – Bernie Roth, co-founder of the Stanford d.school, offers a guide for harnessing the power of design thinking to help meet life’s challenges and fulfill goals.

The Four Lenses of Innovation by Rowan Gibson – Rowan Gibson presents an innovation methodology for systematically stretching your thinking, discovering inspiring new insights and producing a portfolio of high-quality ideas and radically new growth opportunities.

Stronger by George Everly, Douglas Strouse & Dennis McCormack – Personal resilience is the ability to bounce back in the wake of adversity. The authors share a set of five core factors that protect successful people against psychological distress and emotional injury.

Peers Inc by Robin Chase – A co-founder of Zipcar, Robin Chase, introduces the collaborative economy in which companies and governments are using the Internet’s ability to facilitate collaboration by leveraging expertise, assets and resources outside their sphere of control.

What 2015 books have you found to be most helpful in your business and career over the past year? Post your choices to the blog.

 

From Outsourcing To Global Talent: Common issues

Our guest blogger today is Ernest Gundling, PhD, Managing Partner at Aperian Global, a consulting firm he co-founded in 1990, and coauthor of Leading Across New Borders: How to Succeed as the Center Shifts.

 

Many companies with established outsourcing operations have found that the talent picture is changing. Tens of thousands of employees in places like Bangalore, Hyderabad, Surat, or Noida were originally hired to crunch data overnight while their Western counterparts slept, or to write pieces of code that were parceled out by project managers located elsewhere. However, people who have been performing these roles for years now have become more technically adept and have greater business experience; younger employees are also entering the workforce with higher expectations from the beginning.

Employees in traditional outsourcing locations now often aspire to broader and more responsible roles: leading project teams, interfacing directly with customers, authoring entire reports, scoping and designing new systems. Firms that are able to meet these aspirations will retain their top talent; those that do not are likely to lose it. It is not easy to make the transition from existing outsourcing roles to a global talent approach that matches each employee’s developmental stage with the opportunities available around the world. Beyond simply placing an employee in a new role, there are often critical skill gaps that need to be addressed. Consider the mutually frustrating encounter between a Western manager and his Indian counterpart outlined below.

Example: The Report
Michael, a team leader for a pharmaceutical company based in Switzerland, comments,

“Two weeks ago, I sent a report along to our team in Surat with the raw data and information on the target audience. I followed up with a check-in call to make sure that Jas, the person in India assigned to this project, had gotten the documents and see if he had any questions. I told him that, ideally, I needed the report in two weeks, and asked if he was okay with that. He said, ‘sure.’

“Two weeks later, I got the report back and saw that while Jas had integrated the raw data, the implications had not been interpreted at all. The key messages were not clear and the nuances in the tone and language were just not right for my European audience. Actually, the report was unfinished in many ways. So it was now up to me to rewrite it, without any cushion time, which then impacted my deadline. I would say that this feels pretty typical of my interaction with the team in Surat, although they are supposed to be providing end-to-end report writing services.

“I expected Jas to take the data and interpret it based on his expertise. He should be able to discern which messages need to come across to the audience and then craft those messages in a way that will make sense to our audience and add value to me. It will be quicker for me to just do the rewrite now rather than spend so much time explaining all the changes. I expect another professional like me to be able to own the communication he is writing and deliver a product that is complete, on time, and reflects a deep understanding of the material. We don’t necessarily get that from our team there. If there is a question about something, I am always available. I am just an e-mail away. But those questions should come up early enough for me to address them, without impacting the deadline.”

Meanwhile, Jas, an Indian team leader based in Surat, expresses his own frustrations:

“The project with Michael could have gone better. When Michael called, I had not yet had time to look at the documents he had sent since I was working on a couple of other reports. So I didn’t have any questions at that time and figured I could rely on my team here in Surat to figure out any elements I didn’t understand. The thing is, I can constantly discuss and get help with my local team if I have an issue, but how can I do this with Michael? I don’t even know him. If I start out by asking a million questions, he will think that I don’t know anything and I will lose credibility with him.

“When I finally got around to looking through the materials that Michael sent, I realized that it would take a lot of time to write this report. By that time, I only had a week left to complete it. I worked late hours with other members of my team trying to finish this document to meet Michael’s timeline. I was hopeful that we could complete it, but we were only able to finish it to a certain level. Anyway, it’s better that I get Michael’s input on what we already have written and then make changes from there.”

Often they give us only a small amount of information and then get angry when we aren’t able to read their minds. I am just responsible for doing the work I am given, to the specifications which have been outlined. Our client stakeholders determine those specifications. I am not in a position to argue with that. If they would give me more information or be more readily available—or if we had a relationship—that would be different. But the work is still just thrown over the wall to me and then there is silence. I try to match the specifications they send, but they often want me to make things up out of thin air. It is not my place to be offering my opinions in this kind of paper. I am just trying to give them what they want.”

Key Competencies
This dynamic between Michael and Jas points to the core struggles in play as organizations try to reposition themselves for global relevance. Most organizations recognize the trends and are in the process of aligning themselves to benefit from the global economic shifts. But they have found that their internal talent management processes are unable to keep up with, much less effectively drive, the organization’s global growth. The transition to global talent sourcing, it turns out, is not just a matter of hiring more global workers. It requires a colossal mindset shift in the organization and new approaches to delegation, teamwork, employee engagement, knowledge transfer, performance evaluation, and developing the competencies needed to make all of these possible.

Accountability & Communication

There are many components to building an executive presence, including posture, dress, gestures such as the form of one’s initial greetings, and so on. The rules for these are largely unwritten and vary somewhat by culture. There are also important general skills required of employees who aspire to join the executive ranks in most multinationals. There are clearly things that Jas could do in the report scenario just discussed to make the interaction more successful. Becoming a full-fledged global team partner brings with it a higher level of accountability. He currently appears to be expressing a kind of passive/aggressive attitude that is unlikely to establish him as an executive peer. If he wants others to see him as a true global partner, he needs to take more responsibility and initiative, and step out of an outsourcing mindset himself. There is a danger that he will create a self-fulfilling prophecy: if he assumes that he is being treated as a second-class corporate citizen and acts accordingly, he may find that this is indeed the way that others treat him, even if corporate policy is to move away from outsourcing. How can Jas get a virtuous cycle going by altering his approach?

If Jas is unclear about his responsibilities, it’s up to him to reach out and request clarification from Michael while expressing his intention to get the job done. It is not helpful to his reputation to provide a half-baked response and feel resentful about his role, especially if he is assuming that the ultimate responsibility lies elsewhere. Jas also needs to cultivate a particular skill of distilling and communicating key messages. Inexperienced people in his position tend to provide large volumes of detail without sufficiently digesting or interpreting the information. The term “executive summary” highlights the expectations of leaders who are exposed to large volumes of information on a daily basis. They want to know the main points and to have the option to drill down for further detail as needed; likewise, they expect their peers to be able to both synthesize and probe.

Several familiar cultural patterns were probably in the background of the initial response Jas gave to Michael: deference to hierarchy, a preference for relationship-based interactions, and reluctance to draw direct conclusions for others who will make their own inferences. For Jas to be effective at higher levels in this organization, however, he will need to understand these patterns and take steps to flex his own style. It is neither possible nor desirable for him to become a Westerner, but his current mentality will not serve him well in a global leadership position. Jas may find that Michael is amenable to meeting him partway if he asks him for help and expresses an eagerness to learn new skills.

Developing Future Leaders

There is responsibility on both sides in this example. It is all too common for a person in Michael’s role to conclude that Jas lacks business acumen and other essential leadership capabilities,evaluating the report Jas has produced negatively while doing the work himself or steering it elsewhere. Michael can help to break the cycle of unmet expectations and critical performance evaluation by reaching out to Jas and learning more about his capabilities and developmental needs.

It may be that Jas is not the right person for the role, but it is more likely that he needs hands-on mentoring, exposure to best practice models, and constructive feedback that will enable him to grow into his position. Jas will feel more comfortable talking about his developmental needs if he feels that Michael believes in him and is actively involved in providing support. Michael will also be better able to target what he delegates, and to accurately anticipate and rely upon the work that Jas produces. They should get to know each other a lot better, and this is a worthwhile investment of Michael’s time in spite of the geographical and cultural distance that separates them.

Organizations committed to global talent development will make sure that Michael is also held accountable for enabling his global colleagues such as Jas to move to the next level of performance. Leaders who are consistently able to do this will in the long run add far greater value to their companies than they will by deliberately or inadvertently shutting the door to those who could learn rapidly with the right kind of guidance.

Global Talent: The Rewards
Moving from mutual frustration to effective collaboration is complex because it requires a level of self-awareness and conscious effort from everyone involved. Jas cannot do all the work himself, and neither should Michael. When enough key individuals do learn to work together in a way that combines their skills, however, the results can be quite powerful, including retention of vital personnel, greater employee engagement, mutual learning, and higher levels of performance all around. Companies that create the formula for this will discover a powerful accelerator to their global growth, and a competitive edge versus rivals that remain stuck in old outsourcing models.

To learn more about leading in a global economy, join Dr. Gundling for our Soundview Live webinar: Leading Across New Borders.

Leadership: A Trend that Nevers Grows Old

From time to time, I like to set aside a blog to look at trends in the world of business books, just to see on what topics authors are focusing their time and research. It’s a great way to measure the hot button issues.

Although there are many topics I could focus on, today I want to return to that old standard – Leadership. This subject has risen above the status of a trend, to become a recurring theme necessary for executives to master.

Although what is said about leadership in these books may include some recurring lessons we’ve seen over the past decades, authors are also intertwining these common-sense lessons with a new twist, with perspectives that are being gained as the world continues to change. Leadership is affected by technology, culture, greater diversity, changing perspectives about how companies related to the outside world, and much more.

Here are a few recent and upcoming leadership books that epitomize how our view of leadership is evolving in a changing world.

4D Leadership by Alan Watkins – Watkins introduces a 4th dimension to leadership – the vertical dimension. Vertical development focuses on being able to think more complexly, systemically, and strategically, whereas horizontal development consists of learning new skills and knowledge.

The Heart Led Leader by Tommy Spaulding – Authentic leaders, Spaulding says, live and lead from the heart.  The values and principles that guide our lives and shape our ability to lead others is far more important than our title, or our ability to crunch numbers, or the impressive degrees we display on our walls.

Lead More, Control Less by Marvin Weisbord & Sandra Janoff – Lead More, Control Less describes eight essential skills for establishing a culture of autonomy and self-leadership. Using examples and case studies, Weisbord and Janoff describe how leaders can share responsibility, defuse group conflicts, show everyone the big picture, and more. With this approach, leaders truly gain more control by giving it up.

Unconventional Leadership by Nancy Schlichting – Unconventional Leadership is a style of leadership based on confronting reality and leading headlong through adversity. In this inspiring story, Nancy Schlichting, the CEO of Henry Ford Health System, reveals her unique strategies that drive success: maintaining a focus on people, creating a culture of innovation and reinvention, and embracing diversity as a key strategy for growth.

These are just four of the many leadership titles coming out in the last quarter of 2015, but they should give you a taste of the ongoing challenges to our view of leadership in this changing world.

Fixing Workplaces and Careers One Truth at a Time

YOU CAN HANDLE THE TRUTH

After participating in a leadership program, a slightly inebriated participant approached Stanford Business School professor Jeffrey Pfeffer and berated him for not being inspirational. For Pfeffer, who has written numerous books on leadership, the comment hits at the core of what is wrong with leadership training and consulting today. People want the wrong things, consultants are happy to give it to them and nothing is working.

Pfeffer signals the tone of his new book with its title: Leadership BS.  The leadership industry is a massive and lucrative industry involving books, articles, speeches and consulting contracts, keeping many people busy … and wealthy. The problem, according to Pfeffer, is that after thousands of books and speeches by hundreds of consultants and other leadership experts, our leaders are not getting any better, and our employees are not getting any happier. Many leaders are still being fired after failing to achieve their goals. Many employees want nothing more than to get away from their bosses and supervisors.

If leaders aren’t getting better, one major reason is that, as exemplified by the seminar participant above, the industry is focused on pushing inspirational leadership instead of making a scientific effort to find out what really works. Pushing inspiration, writes Pfeffer, does not work, and any attempt to measure the results of inspirational leadership training would demonstrate that fact clearly.

However, the problem is that there is no real measurement of leadership training and consulting. When a consultant develops a fancy seminar on leadership, how does he or she know whether it was successful? Not by developing a rigorous metric for measuring workplace results by participants. Instead, the measurement for whether a leadership seminar has been successful is based on asking participants if they liked it.

Another major problem that Pfeffer sees with the leadership industry is the low barrier to entry. Any person, with or without serious credentials, can start a blog, write a book or give speeches on leadership. In fact, according to Pfeffer, many so-called leadership experts have never been in a leadership position, or have been in a leadership position and failed, or are proponents of a leadership style that is very different from the way they behaved when they were in leadership positions.

The leadership industry is also saddled with a paradox that most people ignore: What is good for the company may not be good for the leader, and vice-versa.

Solutions

By laying out some of the major problems with today’s leadership industry, Pfeffer also sets up some solutions, such as more attention to metrics and accountability, more attention to credentials and acknowledging the different interests of leaders and their companies.This is only the beginning, however.

After thoroughly scorching the usual suspects of leadership prescriptions — including inspiration, modesty, authenticity, trust and servant leadership — Pfeffer summarizes in this provocative, must-read book the way to fix leadership, with a twist on a famous movie line: “You can handle the truth.” If we want the best leaders running our companies and organizations, then it’s time, writes Pfeffer, to face “the reality of organizational life.” Forget what should be, and focus on what is. Pay attention to actions, not words. Acknowledge that “there are occasions when you have to do bad things to achieve good results.” Recognize that one size does not fit all.

Counter-Sabotage in the Workplace

In 1944, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS)—the predecessor of today’s CIA—issued the Simple Sabotage Field Manual, detailing sabotage techniques designed to demoralize the enemy. One section focused on eight incredibly subtle—and devastatingly destructive—tactics for sabotaging the decision-making processes of organizations. While the manual was written decades ago, these sabotage tactics lurk undetected in organizations today. Do any of these sound familiar?

  • Insist on doing everything through channels.
  • Make speeches. Talk as frequently as possible and at great length.
  • Refer all matters to committees.
  • Bring up irrelevant issues as frequently as possible.
  • Haggle over precise wordings of communications.
  • Refer back to matters already decided upon and attempt to question the advisability of that decision.
  • Advocate caution and urge fellow-conferees to avoid haste that might result in embarrassments or difficulties later on.
  • Be worried about the propriety of any decision.

Everyone has been faced with someone who has used these tactics, even when they have meant well. Bob Frisch, co-author of Simple Sabotage, provides proven strategies and techniques for counter-sabotage measures to detect and reduce the impact of these eight classic sabotage tactics, to improve productivity, spur creativity, and engender better collegial relationships.

If you’re dealing with sabotage in your company or department, you’ll want to join Bob Frisch and Soundview on October 29th for our Soundview Live webinar, How to Neutralize the Behaviors that Undermine Your Workplace.