Tag Archives: Leadership

Progress Doesn’t Have to be Difficult

“Progress isn’t made by early risers.

It’s made by lazy men trying to find easier ways to do something.”

-Robert A. Heinlein

 

Last week I talked about eating your more metaphorical chick peas. The point was that if you add more good to what you are doing, less room is left for that which is bad or unhealthy. The concept was borrowed from How Not To Die by Michael Greger, M.D.

How not to Die

 

This advice might have left you with the impression that you have to pick your poison—either delicious food with ill-health or a lifetime of flavorless rabbit food. These are false alternatives. Gregor explained that, while he preferred that his patients eliminate bad food, he was wise enough to recognize that simply reducing bad food was a healthy step the right direction. In short, good nutrition is not an either/or, but a continuum. The same holds true for taste. Few of us want to give up delicious deserts, but we feel that we have to in order to eat right. Yet, taste and health are not necessarily enemies. Gregor won my admiration with this passage:

The favored dessert in our home is soft-serve ‘ice-cream’ made by blending frozen fruit. You whip up frozen fruit in a blender, food processor, or juicer, and viola! Instant All-fruit ice cream…..My Favorite is chocolate. To make it, blend dark, sweet cherries, or strawberries mixed with a tablespoon of cocoa power, a splash of milk of your choice (more if you want to make a milkshake), a capful of vanilla extract, and some pitted dates. If you didn’t get your nuts for the day, you can add some almond butter. Either way, you get an instant, decadent, chocolate desert so nutritious that the more you eat, the healthier you are. Let me repeat that: The more you eat, the healthier you are. That’s my kind of ice cream![i]

I tried it. It is delicious. But that is not the point of the lesson. That last line grabbed me: “The more you eat it, the healthier you are.”

This passage was interesting because, as with last week’s lesson, the concept can be applied in ways that extend beyond diet. It is like turning lemons into lemonade, but a healthy version that makes you feel better.

  • Are you overloaded at work? Take on more projects that will help you get where you want to go. Make yourself an expert in a particular area, and you will have more control over your future as you become more valuable to management.
  • Are you a salesman who needs to develop a thick skin? Make more sales calls. That sounds like eating your chick-peas, but it is not if you make it a game and reward yourself not for the sales you make. All other things being equal, increased appointments should lead to increased sales. By making it a game, you have traded the chick-peas for all natural, delicious ice cream.
  • Do you hate traffic? Listen to audiobooks that will build your skill-set. I have an Audible Account. You can get a free 30-day trial to Audible and two free downloadable audiobooks here. Don’t know what to listen to? Here are my top picks for books on management and leadership.

What About You?

“The more you eat, the healthier you are.” What is your equivalent of frozen-fruit, chocolate ice cream? Time spent identifying these alternatives will pay big dividends in your health and happiness.

Full disclosure: If you download a free trial, I will get $5 of credit, so you we will both get to read more just because you started a free trial. So, thanks in advance if you start a free trial. You can cancel within 30 days and it will not cost you a thing. Happy reading.

References

[i] Gregor, M., & Stone, G. (2015). How not to die: Discover the foods scientifically proven to prevent and reverse disease. New York: Flatiron Books. (p. 292).

-Darin Gerdes

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Dr. Darin Gerdes is an Associate Professor of management in the School of Business at Charleston Southern University. All ideas expressed on www.daringerdes.com are his own.

 

This post was originally created for Great Business Networking (GBN), a networking organization for business professionals where Dr. Gerdes is the Director of Education.

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Business Lessons from the first Republican Primary Debate

As I watched the primary debates with interest, I noticed a few interesting trends. I recognized rules for business that were playing out in politics. Here are my observations:

1. Expectations Color Results.

In last night’s debate, this was true for Donald Trump and Mike Huckabee in different ways. Because Mike Huckabee is old news, having run as far back as 2008, the media didn’t seem to be interested. They expected low performance, but Frank Luntz’s focus group found that a lot of voters who weren’t paying attention to Huckabee before the debate were now interested in Huckabee because of his performance.

For Donald Trump, the pundits attacked him both ways. On the one hand, they would say is too high in the polls; certainly, he will lose his lead to others. On the other hand, they talked about how he lacks political skill and he will be outclassed by the professional politicians.

In fairness, it wasn’t Trump’s best performance. In a “gotcha” moment, he maintained that he would not take a pledge not to run against another candidate if he lost the primary. Nevertheless, Trump had some of the best lines of the debate. For example, when the moderator question on his position on immigration, Trump was masterful:

WALLACE: Mr. Trump, it has not escaped anybody’s notice that you say that the Mexican government, the Mexican government is sending criminals — rapists, drug dealers, across the border.

Governor Bush has called those remarks, quote, “extraordinarily ugly.”

I’d like you — you’re right next to him — tell us — talk to him directly and say how you respond to that and — and you have repeatedly said that you have evidence that the Mexican government is doing this, but you have evidence you have refused or declined to share.

Why not use this first Republican presidential debate to share your proof with the American people?

TRUMP: So, if it weren’t for me, you wouldn’t even be talking about illegal immigration, Chris. You wouldn’t even be talking about it.

(APPLAUSE)

Trump waked away bloodied but unbowed.

Huckabee had a number of great lines, but his best came at the end of the night. The way he set up his closing statement had Trump looking nervous. The room fell silent when Huckabee began his closing statement.

BAIER: Governor Mike Huckabee, closing statement.

HUCKABEE: It seems like this election has been a whole lot about a person who’s very high in the polls, that doesn’t have a clue about how to govern.

A person who has been filled with scandals, and who could not lead, and, of course, I’m talking about Hillary Clinton.

(LAUGHTER)

2. If You Are Desperate, You Take Chances That Could Hurt You.

Everyone knows that it’s best to negotiate position of strength than from a position of weakness. A number of the candidates came to the debate knowing that they had to prove themselves, but this observation goes out to Rand Paul.

Just before the debate, Bill O’Reilly predicted that Paul would be salivating for an opportunity to take on Trump in order to improve his own position. He did, but Trump got the better of the exchange:

BAIER: And that experts say an independent run would almost certainly hand the race over to Democrats and likely another Clinton.

You can’t say tonight that you can make that pledge?

TRUMP: I cannot say. I have to respect the person that, if it’s not me, the person that wins, if I do win, and I’m leading by quite a bit, that’s what I want to do. I can totally make that pledge. If I’m the nominee, I will pledge I will not run as an independent. But — and I am discussing it with everybody, but I’m, you know, talking about a lot of leverage. We want to win, and we will win. But I want to win as the Republican. I want to run as the Republican nominee.

BAIER: So tonight, you can’t say if another one of these…

PAUL: This is what’s wrong!

BAIER: OK.

PAUL: I mean, this is what’s wrong. He buys and sells politicians of all stripes, he’s already…

BAIER: Dr. Paul.

PAUL: Hey, look, look! He’s already hedging his bet on the Clintons, OK? So if he doesn’t run as a Republican, maybe he supports Clinton, or maybe he runs as an independent…

BAIER: OK.

PAUL: …but I’d say that he’s already hedging his bets because he’s used to buying politicians.

TRUMP: Well, I’ve given him plenty of money [Pointing to Rand Paul].

3. When You Get into a Fight, Expect to Get Bloodied.

This goes out to both Rand Paul and Chris Christy. Both candidates had something to prove, and both candidates left the exchange with bloody noses. When Megyn Kelly asked Chris Christie about his comments on Rand Paul, sparks began to fly:

KELLY: Alright, gentlemen, we’re gonna switch topics now and talk a bit about terror and national security.

Governor Christie…. do you really believe you can assign blame to Senator Paul just for opposing the bulk collection of people’s phone records in the event of a terrorist attack?

CHRISTIE: Yes, I do. And I’ll tell you why: because I’m the only person on this stage who’s actually filed applications under the Patriot Act, who has gone before the federal — the Foreign Intelligence Service court, who has prosecuted and investigated and jailed terrorists in this country after September 11th.

I was appointed U.S. attorney by President Bush on September 10th, 2001, and the world changed enormously the next day, and that happened in my state.

This is not theoretical to me. I went to the funerals. We lost friends of ours in the Trade Center that day. My own wife was two blocks from the Trade Center that day, at her office, having gone through it that morning.

When you actually have to be responsible for doing this, you can do it, and we did it, for seven years in my office, respecting civil liberties and protecting the homeland.

And I will make no apologies, ever, for protecting the lives and the safety of the American people. We have to give more tools to our folks to be able to do that, not fewer, and then trust those people and oversee them to do it the right way. As president, that is exactly what I’ll do.

PAUL: Megyn, may I respond?

(APPLAUSE)

PAUL: May I respond?

KELLY: Go ahead, sir.

PAUL: I want to collect more records from terrorists, but less records from innocent Americans. The Fourth Amendment was what we fought the Revolution over! John Adams said it was the spark that led to our war for independence, and I’m proud of standing for the Bill of Rights, and I will continue to stand for the Bill of Rights.

(APPLAUSE)

CHRISTIE: And — and, Megyn? Megyn, that’s a — that, you know, that’s a completely ridiculous answer. “I want to collect more records from terrorists, but less records from other people.” How are you supposed to know, Megyn?

PAUL: Use the Fourth Amendment!

CHRISTIE: What are you supposed to…

PAUL: Use the Fourth Amendment!

CHRISTIE: …how are you supposed to — no, I’ll tell you how you, look…

PAUL: Get a warrant!

CHRISTIE: Let me tell you something, you go…

PAUL: Get a judge to sign the warrant!

CHRISTIE: When you — you know, senator…

(CROSSTALK)

KELLY: Governor Christie, make your point.

CHRISTIE: Listen, senator, you know, when you’re sitting in a subcommittee, just blowing hot air about this, you can say things like that.

(APPLAUSE)

When you’re responsible for protecting the lives of the American people, then what you need to do is to make sure…

PAUL: See, here’s the problem. CHRISTIE: …is to make sure that you use the system (ph) the way it’s supposed to work.

PAUL: Here’s the problem, governor. Here’s the problem, governor. You fundamentally misunderstand the Bill of Rights.

Every time you did a case, you got a warrant from a judge. I’m talking about searches without warrants…

CHRISTIE: There is no…

PAUL: …indiscriminately, of all Americans’ records, and that’s what I fought to end.

I don’t trust President Obama with our records. I know you gave him a big hug, and if you want to give him a big hug again, go right ahead.

(APPLAUSE)

KELLY: Go ahead, governor.

CHRISTIE: And you know — you know, Senator Paul? Senator Paul, you know, the hugs that I remember are the hugs that I gave to the families who lost their people on September 11th.

Those are the hugs I remember, and those had nothing to do — and those had nothing to do with politics, unlike what you’re doing by cutting speeches on the floor of the Senate, then putting them on the Internet within half an hour to raise money for your campaign…

KELLY: Alright.

Ouch. Neither of these candidates came out smelling like roses (except to those who were already in their respective camps). When you fight, expect to get hit.

4. Sometimes, You Only Have to Prove You are Competent.

Other candidates to a different approach. They didn’t win the debate, but they demonstrated that they were competent, reliable, and plausible candidates. These included Marco Rubio (who is focused on Hillary and the future), Scott Walker (who stood on his record), and Ted Cruz (who masterfully handled the Constitution).

Rubio’s best line: [on immigration]

RUBIO: And let me tell you who never gets talked about in these debates. The people that call my office, who have been waiting for 15 years to come to the United States. And they’ve paid their fees, and they hired a lawyer, and they can’t get in. And they’re wondering, maybe they should come illegally.

Ted Cruz’s best line:

CRUZ: I would also note that the scripture tells us, “you shall know them by their fruit.” We see lots of “campaign conservatives.” But if we’re going to win in 2016, we need a consistent conservative, someone who has been a fiscal conservative, a social conservative, a national security conservative.

There are real differences among the candidates on issues like amnesty, like Obamacare, like religious liberty, like life and marriage. And I have been proud to fight and stand for religious liberty, to stand against Planned Parenthood, to defend life for my entire career.

 

Scott Walker’s best line:

BAIER: Governor Walker, as president, what would you do if Russian President Vladimir Putin started a campaign to destabilize NATO allies Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, mirroring the actions Putin took at the early days of Ukraine?

WALKER: Well first off, for the cyber attack with Russia the other day, it’s sad to think right now, but probably the Russian and Chinese government know more about Hillary Clinton’s e-mail server than do the members of the United States Congress.

Different approaches, but each showed themselves to be competent.

 5. Know Your Audience(s)

In, It Worked for Me, Colin Powell explained that when you give a speech or press conference, you are speaking to multiple audiences simultaneously.

  • The Reporter asking the question.
  • The American people.
  • Political and military leaders in other countries.
  • The enemy.
  • The troops.

(pp. 129-134).

Let’s translate this to a political scenario. The debate was held in Cleveland, Ohio. John Kasich, the sitting governor of Ohio was one of the candidates. He received a warm welcome in the arena, but he might not have been able to see the cold shoulders he received after making a number of remarks that are out of step with the average Republican primary voter. The first is on expanding Medicaid and the second on gay marriage:

KELLY: Governor Kasich, You chose to expand Medicaid in your state, unlike several other governors on this stage tonight, and it is already over budget by some estimates costing taxpayers an additional $1.4 billion in just the first 18 months.

You defended your Medicaid expansion by invoking God, saying to skeptics that when they arrive in heaven, Saint Peter isn’t going to ask them how small they’ve kept government, but what they have done for the poor.

Why should Republican voters, who generally want to shrink government, believe that you won’t use your Saint Peter rationale to expand every government program?

KASICH: Well, first of all…

(APPLAUSE)

KASICH: — first of all, Megyn, you should know that — that President Reagan expanded Medicaid three or four times.

Secondly, I had an opportunity to bring resources back to Ohio to do what?

To treat the mentally ill. Ten thousand of them sit in our prisons. It costs $22,500 a year…

This was in direct opposition to Jindal’s remark in the earlier debate that we should never expand the growth of government because it creates a culture of dependency (which is why he turned down federal money).

Kasich also completely rolled over on the SCOTUS ruling on gay marriage. This is a bitter pill for the majority of conservatives (even if it is a trend within the country at large).

KELLY: The subject of gay marriage and religious liberty. Governor Kasich, if you had a son or daughter who was gay or lesbian, how would you explain to them your opposition to same-sex marriage?

KASICH: Well, look, I’m an old-fashioned person here, and I happen to believe in traditional marriage. But I’ve also said the court has ruled —

KELLY: How would you — how would you explain it to a child?

KASICH: Wait, Megyn, the court has ruled, and I said we’ll accept it. And guess what, I just went to a wedding of a friend of mine who happens to be gay. Because somebody doesn’t think the way I do, doesn’t mean that I can’t care about them or can’t love them. So if one of my daughters happened to be that, of course I would love them and I would accept them. Because you know what?

(APPLAUSE)

*Note: the applause was weak.

6. You Do Not Even have to be Seated at the Adult Table to Move Up.

Seven other candidates attended the 5:00 “Happy Hour” debate; it was also pejoratively known  as “the kids table.” But excellence is excellence and Carly Fiorina shined while accomplished former governors and U.S. Senators reinforced the perception that they are simply boring.

Carly Fiorina got a great press bump by being the “Winner” at the JV debate. She may have helped her cause more than if she had been part of the main debate. Getting noticed is not dependent on luck or position.

7. Even if You are Not a Great Candidate, You Can Still Survive with a Lot of Money.

Donald Trump can campaign all he wants, bombastic as he is, because he can pay to play. Jeb Bush was positively boring last night, but he has millions in the bank. Those who are in danger (like Mike Huckabee and Lindsey Graham) are those who cannot generate the enthusiasm that translates into campaign donations.

What does all of this have to do with business? Let’s review the lessons:

  1. Expectations Color Results.
  2. If You Are Desperate, You Take Chances That Could Hurt You.
  3. When You Get into a Fight, Expect to Get Bloodied.
  4. Sometimes, You Only Have to Prove You are Competent.
  5. Know Your Audience(s)
  6. You Do Not Even have to be Seated at the Adult Table to Move Up.
  7. Even if You are Not a Great Candidate, You Can Still Survive with a Lot of Money.

Translate these lessons to your business. The principles are the same. What will you do with these business lessons?

-Dr. Gerdes

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Dr. Darin Gerdes is an Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Programs in the School of Business at Charleston Southern University. All ideas expressed on www.daringerdes.com are his own.
Note: Transcript taken directly from Time’s coverage at: http://time.com/3988276/republican-debate-primetime-transcript-full-text/

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The Power of Participation

I was recently talking to an MBA student about the power of participation. Often, leaders think that they have to have all the answers. This is not only silly, but it can be very costly. Leaders who are humble enough to know that they need their people can turn crises into opportunities. One of the best examples comes from Jack Stack’s The Great Game of BusinessStack Wrote:

A few years ago, we had a problem with a competitor who tried to come in and take away our fuel-injection pump business. It all began when a new buyer was appointed at one of our major customers. Seeing an opportunity, our competitor went to him and offered to supply pumps at a price below ours. It was a smart move. The new buyer wanted to make a good impression on his company, and reducing costs was a good way to do it. So the Buyer came to me and said, “Look. I don’t have any choice here. Unless you reduce your price by 6 percent, I’m going to give the business to the other guy. I’ll give you three months to get the price down to his level.”

Now a 6 percent price reduction was basically the difference between making money and losing money on the product. We couldn’t imagine how our competitor was going to make money at that price. As it happened, we owned a share of his stock. We checked out his financials, and we saw that he had an unbelievable amount of debt on his balance sheet. I’m talking about a $100 million company that owed $56 Million. When you borrow that much money, you can’t hide it, even if you’re private. Somebody knows.  In addition, this was a union company, so we knew what he was paying his people. We also knew that our production times weren’t unreasonable, and that our prices were in line with the marketplace.

So it was clear that this guy was out to buy the account. He was subsidizing the product by using debt to cover his losses. His strategy was clear: he was going to get the contract at a loss, run us out of the market, and then raise the prices later on. We explained all that to the buyer. We appealed to loyalty and everything else. But he insisted on the price cut, which was going to save his company money, at least in the short run. Somehow we had to come up with a way to reduce our costs.

So I went down to the pump room, where we make the fuel-injection pumps. I told people what we were up against. These pumps sold for about $200 each. To cut the price by 6 percent, we had to save $12 per unit. I said, “I don’t know how to get that kind of cost reduction, but if we don’t do it, we’re going to lose this contract, and that could cost some people their jobs.” Then I put a picture of the other company’s CEO on the wall, along with a copy of its financial statements. I said, “Here’s the guy who’s trying to take your jobs away from you, and I am afraid I don’t know how to stop him. I’ve already done everything I can, and it hasn’t worked. It’s up to you now.” I honestly believed it would take a miracle to save the contract.

So I went down to the pump room, where we make the fuel-injection pumps. I told people what we were up against. These pumps sold for about $200 each. To cut the price by 6 percent, we had to save $12 per unit. I said, “I don’t know how to get that kind of cost reduction, but if we don’t do it, we’re going to lose this contract, and that could cost some people their jobs.” Then I put a picture of the other company’s CEO on the wall, along with a copy of its financial statements. I said, “Here’s the guy who’s trying to take your jobs away from you, and I am afraid I don’t know how to stop him. I’ve already done everything I can, and it hasn’t worked. It’s up to you now.” I honestly believed it would take a miracle to save the contract.

The people in the pump room were amazing. They formed a task force, and they put up a thermometer. They got together and talked about how they could save a nickel here and a dime there. They looked at their hardware. They questioned every material cost. They asked how a vendor could be charging us so much when you could get the same thing for substantially less at ACE Hardware. Every day they posted their savings. At the end of three months they had cut $40 out of the pump’s cost—a 20 percent savings.

I would never have thought they could do it. That was the one time people really surprised me. There isn’t an engineer in the world who could have done what they did. They had to do it themselves. What’s interesting is that they passed 10 percent of the reduction along to the costumer, which passed it along to the marketplace, and the volume rose, creating more jobs. So people got to see the whole economic cycle. As for the competitor, he lost that one, but he’s still out there, keeping us on our toes.  (Stack, 1992, pp. 110-111).

Great Game

Are you getting the most out of your people? If not, are you the reason? Do you ask for their help or do you feel that you have to have all of the answers?

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Dr. Darin Gerdes is an Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Programs in the School of Business at Charleston Southern University. All ideas expressed on www.daringerdes.com are his own.

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On Administrative Professionals Day

Administrative professionals day is the 4th Wednesday in April. Yesterday, to thank the administrators that keep us on track, I took Heather (The Dean’s Executive Assistant), Janie (The Assistant Director of the Graduate School) , and Richard (our Graduate Enrollment Counselor) out to lunch on behalf of the School of Business.

Sometimes leaders treat administrative support as insignificant or interchangeable.  They see themselves as the hero and others are  just “the help.” But these others are the indispensable supports that make them look good.

By way of example, steel an alloy that is comprised of iron and carbon. Sometimes nickel and manganese are added to give it greater tensile strength. The point is that the other elements combine with iron to make it many times stronger than it could be on its own.

Steel - Wikimedia

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Steel#/media/File:Steel_wire_rope.png

Too often we get full of ourselves and think we are the sole reason for our success. We forget about the support that helped us achieve and maintain that success. Perhaps it is because I am the typical absent-minded professor that I am more aware of this phenomenon. I am grateful to the administrators that keep me on track. They improve my work. They are valued colleagues.

As we left for lunch yesterday, I was struck by a metaphor alert. I was taking them to lunch, but Heather held the credit card that would pay for the meal, Janie was driving (since my car has three child seats) and I did not know where we would go to eat. Did I mention that I am grateful for the administrators?

Solomon understood this principle:

Two are better than one,

because they have a good return for their labor:

If either of them falls down,

one can help the other up.

But pity anyone who falls

and has no one to help them up.

Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.

But how can one keep warm alone?

Though one may be overpowered,

two can defend themselves.

A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

(Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12)

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Dr. Darin Gerdes is an Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Programs in the School of Business at Charleston Southern University. All ideas expressed on www.daringerdes.com are his own.

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Leadershipment

When we talk about leadership, we tend to lack precision. Often, we use similar words interchangeably. The most common substitution is to confuse leadership with management, but the two are not the same.

Recently I was reading  the American Management Association’s  AMA Handbook of Leadership and one of the authors did a masterful job drawing out the differences:

  • Administration: “Execution through rules, policies, and procedures.”
  • Management: “Getting results and doing so efficiently.”
  • Leadership: “Vision of the future and the ability to energize others to pursue it.” (Mills and Novell, in Goldsmith, Baldoni & McArthur, 2010, p. 36).

AMA handbook of Leadership

As I thought about these definitions, it makes sense that you never hear people say, “He is a natural born Administrator.” This is the reason we hate the DMV, but we pine for leaders who will take us to the future.

As I thought about it some more,  I thought about the respective suffixes of each of the root words. When I looked them up in various dictionaries, here is what I found:

  • Administrat·ion:ion: A state of being or condition (e.g., Invention, legalization, rotation, taxation, supervision).
  • Manage·ment: –ment: An action or resulting state or condition (e.g., employment, Judgment, movement, punishment, segment).
  • Leader·ship: ship: Relationship with another (e.g., Citizenship, dictatorship, friendship, lordship)

As I ruminated on how the words were constructed, the distinctions between the terms came into sharper focus. Administration is a state or condition and management is active, but leadership, by definition, must be part of relationship. You can manage inventory, but you cannot lead it.

So I  began to wonder if the use of a double-suffix may not be more appropriate:  leader-ship-ment. Sure leadershipment is a mouthful, but isn’t it supposed to be action in relationship? Without the action, the relationship is not going anywhere.

I doubt that the word will gain any traction, but I like the term anyway. It is a reminder to me and I hope it is helpful to you as you lead your people.

-Darin Gerdes
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Dr. Darin Gerdes is an Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Programs in the School of Business at Charleston Southern University. All ideas expressed on www.daringerdes.com are his own.

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Unleadershipping

About a month ago, my kids were arguing about something and I heard my oldest son say, “That’s unleadershipping and he should go to jail.”

unleadershipping

The interesting new term caught my attention, so I asked him what unleadershipping meant. He said that if someone was not leading or leading others the wrong way, that would be unleadershipping.

Too often we overfocus on leadership and ignore the consequences of bad leadership. But, in my estimation, we have a lot of unleadershipping going on all around us.  I am not just talking about scandals, but unthoughtful, cowardly, and inept leadership. Whether it comes in the form of taking credit or hiding behind employees for cover, it is a serious issue.

I am a leader

Unleadershipping takes its toll on followers. It should be unmasked and despised for the problem it is. Now that we have a word for it, I hope we can get some traction.

-Darin Gerdes
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Dr. Darin Gerdes is an Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Programs in the School of Business at Charleston Southern University. All ideas expressed on www.daringerdes.com are his own.

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Free Drucker Chapter from “The Bookshelf in Your Boss’s Brain”

 Click here to download the entire eBook:

The Best Management Books of All Time.

 

The Essential Drucker (1995)

“One does not ‘manage’ people. The task is to lead people. And the goal is to make productive the specific strengths and knowledge of each individual.”

-Peter F. Drucker.

Introduction

If you are not yet familiar with the name Peter F. Drucker, you should be. His name is synonymous with the concept of management. He has been called the father of management. Businessweek has even called him, “The man who invented management.”[i]

Drucker was born in Austria and he lived in Hamburg and Frankfurt Germany where he worked as a journalist. He received his doctorate in international law in 1931.  In 1933, he moved to London to become the chief economist of a bank. A year later, he married and moved to the United States where he became a professor. He spent 30 years teaching graduate courses at the Claremont Graduate University. In addition, he worked as a consultant for numerous Fortune 500 companies, and he wrote 39 books and many more articles.

He coined the term “knowledge worker,” to explain the 20th century shift from blue-collar to white-collar work. He is also known for developing Management by Objective (MBO).  He “received the presidential medal of freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor” for his contributions in the field of management[ii] and 25 honorary doctorates[iii] from universities in  the United States, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Great Britain, Japan, Spain and Switzerland.”[iv]

His legacy includes the Drucker School of Management at the Claremont Graduate University, named in his honor, and the Drucker Institute. The Institute not only propagates his work, but seeks to actively build on his legacy by applying his ideas to current and future challenges.[v]

Once you are familiar with Drucker’s writings, his influence is obvious in Peters and Waterman, Stephen Covey, Jim Collins, Marshall Goldsmith, and other management thinkers. It is difficult to overestimate the impact that Peter Drucker has had on the discipline of management.

Drucker was not perfect. He began with a bent toward scientific management. He was, after all, a product of his time. Were you to read the The Concept of the Corporation (1946), you would have the distinct impression that command and control was an excellent method to run a business. But to his credit, Drucker grew, and as he did, so did our understanding of management.  If you had to choose just one of his books, The Essential Drucker: The Best of Sixty Years of Peter Drucker’s Essential Writings on Management should be your first choice.

One-Sentence Summary

Management is hard, but working for a bad manager is harder, so learn to be the kind of manager you would want to work for.

Key Phrases

“Knowledge worker”

“Management by Objective (MBO)”

“A business only exists to please a customer”

Overview of the Book

The Purpose of a Business

Since the 1970s, a great debate has raged in academic circles over the purpose of a business. On one side stood staunch defenders of the free market like Milton Friedman who maintained that the purpose of a business is to maximize shareholder wealth.[vi] Legally, this is management’s fiduciary responsibility. It is also that which is taught in most business schools.

Managers must act legally. They should act ethically. If they act responsibly, the net result should be an increase in shareholder wealth. Friedman maintained that this was the primary task of business while the political left criticizes capitalists for being greedy.

On the other side of the debate stood Archie Carroll, a leading proponent of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). He maintained that business has other responsibilities, including responsibilities to society at-large, and that the purpose of a business was to serve society.[vii] To Carroll’s way of thinking, a business not only had economic, legal, and ethical responsibilities, but specific responsibilities to the environment and to the community in which it operates. In essence, the business owes the community tribute for the right to operate. The political right criticizes these efforts to pick the pockets of corporations.

In sum, a business existed either for the purpose of profit maximization or for the good of the community. Neither answer was satisfactory. Peter Drucker approached the same question differently. While he was no friend of efforts to loot businesses in the name of social justice, he thought the idea of profit maximization to be wrongheaded. He wrote,

The concept of profit maximization is, in fact, meaningless. The danger in the concept of profit maximization is that it makes profitability appear a myth.

Profit and profitability are, however crucial—for society even more than for the individual businesses. Yet profitability is not the purpose of, but a limiting factor on the business enterprise and business activity. Profit is not the explanation, cause, or rationale of business behavior and business decisions, but rather the test of their validity.

If archangels instead of business man sat in director’s chairs, they would still have to be concerned with profitability, despite their total lack of personal interest in making profits.[viii]

To Drucker, the business is only in business because it makes goods or services that customers are willing to pay for.[ix] The only real purpose of a business is to please a customer.[x] Pleasing a customer has the side effect of both increasing profits for owners who have risked their capital and enhancing society indirectly by providing useful goods. Customers are preeminent.[xi]

Sometimes businessmen think that a product or service is quality because it is expensive or it took a long time to produce. But that is not quality. Only customers define quality, and they do so in terms of the utility they derive from a product. Any other view is misguided.[xii]

The Nature of Management

When most people think of management, they think of business management. But management is not confined to business. The same principles of management apply in the nonprofit, the military, the church, and the public sector.[xiii] Management principles are universal.

Principles of Organization

Good management should follow certain principles of organization. For example, managers should be transparent. Employees need to know who they report to. Managers must have the authority to carry out their tasks. In addition, an organization should have as few layers as necessary to function.[xiv]

Procedures

Procedures often get in the way. This happens for a number of reasons. Sometimes we believe that procedures are the equivalent of morality, but as Drucker wrote, “right conduct can ever be ‘proceduralized’.”[xv]

Employees have a tendency to substitute a procedure for judgment. That should never be the purpose of a procedure. Employees often think that because a procedure is printed on paper that it is holy writ, but someone wrote it, and someone else can change it.[xvi]

The most vexing problem with procedures is that they often become means by which management controls rather than empowers workers. Drucker gave the example of a manager who is consumed with filling out forms for corporate headquarters. This takes time and energy from his main task. He hates the paperwork, but if his managers are not careful, he begins to think that filling out forms is his primary job, rather than pleasing the customer.[xvii]

Procedures should serve rather than be served. They should be useful to the person who uses them. Drucker believed that if an employee is to be judged by his performance or production, he should only have to fill out reports that help them achieve this goal.[xviii]

Decision Making

Managers must make decisions. Sometimes decisions are black and white, but often they are in shades of gray. Drucker warned that,

Every decision is like surgery. It is an intervention into a system and therefore carries with it the risk of shock. One does not make unnecessary decisions any more than a good surgeon does unnecessary surgery.[xix]

Too often, managers like making decisions, and so they retain this power or make too many decisions by themselves. This is a mistake. When decisions have to be made, they should be produced at the lowest level possible—close to the customer.

Drucker also maintained that we all argue from opinions rather than facts. This is not bad in and of itself, but opinions must be tested and the people who argue for them should be held responsible to test their hypotheses and be responsible for their decisions.[xx] This type of thinking would be at the heart of MBO.

Management By Objectives (MBO)

Nearly every organization has a mission and strategy. Subunits of the organization also implement strategies and individuals make tactical decisions as they do their jobs. Often, these strategies are at cross-purposes. To remedy this problem, Drucker developed Management by Objectives (MBO) which he introduced in The Practice of Management (1954).

Management by Objectives was a participative approach to goal setting in an organization. The logic was clear. Senior managers who thoroughly understood the strategy should work with middle managers to set goals for their units. Middle managers, in turn, would work with lower managers to set goals for their units. The purpose was alignment and the alternative was irritation and discord throughout the organization.[xxi]

MBO would take a great deal of effort, as people are not always naturally focused on the same goals.[xxii] According to the theory, after the subordinate sets his objectives, his manager should work with him to ensure alignment. After all, these objectives should be what he is measured against in order to determine performance. Ideally, this becomes a contract between the two. More importantly, the contract (rather than the manager) should govern behavior going forward.[xxiii]

The participative nature of MBO theoretically would ensure greater ownership of the objectives, but in practice, it was more difficult. When the process became political, objectives were hammered into weapons that coworkers used against each other. MBO required agreement, cooperation, and trust. Studies have shown that where it is implemented completely, it could lead to greater alignment, and greater alignment would lead to greater profitability.

MBO was all the rage in business schools for a generation. Elements of MBO still survive in various forms today.

Management and Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurs tend to focus on the bottom line. This is to be expected, but Drucker maintained that in order to obtain profit, entrepreneurs needed to focus on managerial controls. In essence, his advice was to work on the system and let the system generate the profits. Profits would flow only if these controls were in place.[xxiv]

Drucker believed that management and entrepreneurship were essentially the same thing. They manifested in different forms, but at the core, they were the same. Entrepreneurs had to learn to manage, and managers had to learn how to innovate.[xxv]

Innovation

The popular understanding of innovation centers around a reclusive inventor toiling for hours then risking it all on longshots. This is, after all, the stuff of Hollywood movies. However, the entrepreneur is not always a loner, and the entrepreneur (as manager) is doing everything he can to reduce the risk.[xxvi]

We also think of innovation as complex, but most innovations cut the other direction. They are simple. As with Occam’s razor,[xxvii] the best innovations make things simpler. In hindsight, the innovation may even appear obvious.[xxviii]

The Role of Business in Society

The former mayor of New York, John Lindsay, gave up on the problem of poverty and crime, claiming that government solutions have not worked and so if problems were to be solved, business had to step in and be responsible.[xxix]

The idea that business should solve social problems has become more and more pervasive over time. After all, large corporations have deep pockets. Yet, this is not the purpose of business, and Drucker took up his pen in its defense.

Drucker was no friend of the welfare state. Modern government, he explained, has spent billions of dollars on the welfare state, but it has been unable to cure the problems. Moreover, this was true in every society where the welfare state has been erected.  Ultimately, the civil government has proven itself unable to fix social breakdown.[xxx] Such problems are, in Drucker’s parlance, outside their range of competence.

Who then was left but big business? Yet, business was no more qualified than government and businessmen would also achieve lackluster results when they strayed outside their area of core competence.[xxxi]

The most important question Drucker asks about social responsibility is whether business actually has the authority to intervene in social affairs.[xxxii] If it does not have the authority or if it should not have it, it may be usurping authority and aggrandizing itself. [xxxiii]

In addition, he explained that a CEO who neglects his organization to take on such a task has abdicated his responsibility to the organization. [xxxiv] Moreover, adding additional burdens makes the corporation less profitable, and a corporation can only serve society by providing necessary goods and services efficiently when it is profitable.[xxxv]

Drucker was suspicious of those who touted social responsibility of business. Like Milton Friedman, Drucker asked what obligations businesses truly have to society at large other than to produce products that customers want to purchase in order to stay in business.[xxxvi] He found no compelling answer.

Government is inept and a corporation’s function is to serve customers.[xxxvii] The individual, then, is the primary instrument to do good to his neighbor in the community. This may be magnified through an organized nonprofit such as a church or civic association.

Non-profit organizations were designed precisely for such purposes.[xxxviii] He explained that while government programs have hardly made a dent in social problems, churches, Alcoholics Anonymous, the Salvation Army, and other non-profits have had significant results.[xxxix]

Many companies attempt to split the difference of doing good while watching the bottom line. They see value in sending would-be executives to complete volunteer work in nonprofits in order to give them an additional degree of seasoning that they would not obtain inside the organization.[xl]  This approach tends to pacify those who want the organization to engage in CSR while satisfying those who want to protect the shareholders since the company benefits through both the positive Public Relations and the experience the executives obtain in the process.

Knowledge Workers

Recall that Drucker began writing at a time where blue-collar work was in its heyday, and one out of three Americans was unionized. Drucker observed the rise of the white collar worker in modern society. He called them “knowledge workers.”

Knowledge workers were not “subordinates” in the customary sense of the word. Often, they were specialists who had knowledge that their “superiors” did not have.[xli]  In the past, superiors held the same jobs as subordinates, but those days were long gone.[xlii] The new reality radically changed the superior–subordinate relationship.  He likened the new relationship to that of a conductor and a member of the orchestra, maintaining that the new manager does not necessarily have the skills to play each “instrument” that he manages.[xliii] He should, therefore, not assume that he knows better than the knowledge worker how to do the work.

This also means that managers must now treat even the lowest level employees more like equal partners than subordinates in the traditional sense.[xliv] After all, these employees know far more about their areas of expertise than their bosses. Such thinking unleashed a wave of theorizing about the nature of empowerment in the business literature. It would gradually destroy once confident authoritarian managers and refocus management on the largely ignored art of leadership.

Leadership

In Managing for the Future (1992), Drucker admitted that “leadership” had become very popular.[xlv] The father of management found that he had been asked to present seminars on leadership more and more in recent years. Many of his clients wanted him to teach them how to be charismatic, but Drucker believed that leadership was not a function of charisma.[xlvi] In contrast, Drucker believed that charisma often got leaders into trouble.[xlvii]

Drucker reduced leadership to bare essentials: Leadership is hard work.[xlviii] It is about providing direction. The leader’s task is to work through the organization’s mission with his people, defining it, articulating it, and helping to set priorities and maintain standards based on it.[xlix]

Leadership is not what it appears to be. When most people think about leadership, they tend to think about the perks, but Drucker maintained that leadership is less about privilege than responsibility.[l]

The final requirement of leadership is trust. Trust does not mean agreement, but consistency. You can trust a leader with whom you disagree, but you cannot easily trust a capricious leader. The key is integrity.[li]

Advice to Managers

Throughout his works, Drucker provided practical advice about leadership and management to his readers. To be successful, a leader needs to know himself—to know his strengths and weaknesses. Drucker offered the examples of Soichiro Honda and Henry Ford. Each man founded and automotive dynasty. Each man knew himself well. Each succeeded because he found a collaborator with strengths that complemented his weaknesses.[lii]

This is not uncommon in business. The popular imagination focuses on Rock Star CEOs, not realizing that those superstars are supported by someone behind the scenes. Walt Disney had Roy Disney.[liii] Bill Gates had Paul Allen.[liv] Truett Cathy had Jimmy Collins.[lv] Business is a team sport, not a solo endeavor.

As in the partnerships mentioned above, Drucker suggested that individuals focus on their strengths.[lvi]  He recommended working on those weak areas that would impede effectiveness, but cautioned his readers not to try to be well-rounded.

He reasoned that it was a better use of time to go from good to great in an area of strength than to improve from really lousy to mediocre elsewhere. What then to do with weaknesses? Staff your weaknesses. [lvii] Find a partner who relishes the things that you do not like to do as much as you hate them. [lviii] This approach optimizes performance.

When you follow this advice, you can focus on making a contribution to the organization, which Drucker sees as the key to effectiveness. Instead of fixating on their efforts, effective managers focus on results. They seek to contribute and they are not worried about their rights and authority.[lix]

Implications for Leadership

Peter Drucker contributed more to management that anyone before or since. Knowing Drucker is important to understanding your boss’s view of management because he has certainly been influenced by Drucker, whether he knows it or not. Many of the authors that follow—Tom Peters, Ken Blanchard, Jim Collins, Stephen Covey and others—reference Drucker in their own books.

You must understand that the customer is of ultimate importance even if you do not interface with the customer in your particular job. If this is the case, you likely serve an internal “customer” who, in turn, serves the customer.  A staff job exists to equip the line function so that the organization can please the customer. Ignore this at your peril. Remember it, and you will be in demand.

As a manager, you must  understand how to partner with knowledge workers. Those managers who admire powerful, all-knowing managers were born a century too late. The world has shifted and the most certain way to sabotage your future success is to fail to recognize that fact.  Your goal is not to know more than the people you manage, but to free them from constraints that prevent them from doing their jobs well.

Other Notable Books by Peter F. Drucker

Beyond The Essential Drucker (2001), other books that may be useful include his seminal work, The Practice of Management (1954), Innovation and Entrepreneurship, (1985), The Effective Executive (1966), and Managing for the Future (1992). Each work is a bit dated, but the central ideas remain powerful.

 

What are you waiting for? Buy the eBook now: 

The Best Management Books of All Time.

 

Peruse the list below to see what other topics may be useful to you in your situation.

Books by Peter F. Drucker

The End of Economic Man (1939)

The Future of Industrial Man (1942)

Concept of the Corporation (1946)

The New Society (1950)

The Practice of Management (1954)

America’s Next Twenty Years (1957)

Landmarks of Tomorrow (1957)

Managing for Results (1964)

The Effective Executive (1966)

The Age of Discontinuity (1968)

Technology, Management and Society (1970)

The New Markets and Other Essays (1971)

Men, Ideas and Politics (1971)

Drucker on Management (1971)

Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices (1973)

The Unseen Revolution (1976; reissued in 1996 under the title The Pension Fund Revolution)

People and Performance: The Best of Peter Drucker on Management (1977)

Adventures of a Bystander (1978)

Managing in Turbulent Times (1980)

Toward the Next Economics and Other Essays (1981)

The Changing World of the Executive (1982)

The Last of All Possible Worlds (1982)

The Temptation to Do Good (1984)

Innovation and Entrepreneurship (1985)

Frontiers of Management (1986)

The New Realities: in Government and Politics, in Economics and Business, in Society and World View (1989)

Managing the Nonprofit Organization: Principles and Practices (1990)

Managing for the Future (1992)

The Ecological Vision (1993)

Post-Capitalist Society (1993)

Managing in a Time of Great Change (1995)

Drucker on Asia: A Dialogue between Peter Drucker and Isao Nakauchi (1997)

Peter Drucker on the Profession of Management (1998)

Management Challenges for the 21st Century (1999)

The Essential Drucker (2001)

Managing in the Next Society (2002)

A Functioning Society (2002)

The Daily Drucker (2004, with Joseph A. Maciariello)

The Five Most Important Questions (2008; posthumously released)

 

References

[i] Peter Drucker’s Life and Legacy (n.d.). The Drucker Institute. Retrieved from http://www.druckerinstitute.com/peter-druckers-life-and-legacy/

[ii] Peter Drucker’s Life and Legacy (n.d.). The Drucker Institute. Retrieved from http://www.druckerinstitute.com/peter-druckers-life-and-legacy/

[iii] Drucker Archives (n.d.). Claremont colleges Digital Library. Retrieved from http://ccdl.libraries.claremont.edu/cdm/search/collection/dac/searchterm/honorary%20degrees/field//mode/all/conn/and/cosuppress/

[iv] Peter Ferdinand Drucker (n.d.). Drucker School of Management. Retrieved from http://www.cgu.edu/pages/292.asp

[v] About the Drucker Institute (n.d.) The Drucker Institute. Retrieved from http://www.druckerinstitute.com/about-the-drucker-institute/our-history/

[vi] Friedman, M. (1970). The social responsibility of business is to increase profits. The New York Times Magazine Retrieved from: http://www.colorado.edu/studentgroups/libertarians/issues/friedman-soc-resp-business.html

[vii] Carroll, A. (1979). A Three-Dimensional Conceptual Model of Corporate Performance. Academy of Management Review, 4(4), p. 497. Retrieved from http://www.aom.pace.edu/amr/

[viii] Drucker, P. F. (2006). The essential Drucker: the best of sixty years of Peter Drucker’s essential writings on management. New York, NY: HarperBusiness. p. 18-19.

[ix] Drucker, P. F. (2006). The essential Drucker: the best of sixty years of Peter Drucker’s essential writings on management. New York, NY: HarperBusiness. p.  20.

[x] Drucker, P. F. (2006). The essential Drucker: the best of sixty years of Peter Drucker’s essential writings on management. New York, NY: HarperBusiness. p. 15.

[xi] Drucker, P. F. (2006). The essential Drucker: the best of sixty years of Peter Drucker’s essential writings on management. New York, NY: HarperBusiness. p. 348.

[xii] Drucker, P. F. (2006). The essential Drucker: the best of sixty years of Peter Drucker’s essential writings on management. New York, NY: HarperBusiness. p. 172.

[xiii] Drucker, P. F. (2006). The essential Drucker: the best of sixty years of Peter Drucker’s essential writings on management. New York, NY: HarperBusiness. p. 72.

[xiv] Drucker, P. F. (2006). The essential Drucker: the best of sixty years of Peter Drucker’s essential writings on management. New York, NY: HarperBusiness. p. 75.

[xv] Drucker, P. F. (2006). The essential Drucker: the best of sixty years of Peter Drucker’s essential writings on management. New York, NY: HarperBusiness. p. 123.

[xvi] Drucker, P. F. (2006). The essential Drucker: the best of sixty years of Peter Drucker’s essential writings on management. New York, NY: HarperBusiness. p. 123.

[xvii] Drucker, P. F. (2006). The essential Drucker: the best of sixty years of Peter Drucker’s essential writings on management. New York, NY: HarperBusiness. p. 123.

[xviii] Drucker, P. F. (2006). The essential Drucker: the best of sixty years of Peter Drucker’s essential writings on management. New York, NY: HarperBusiness. p. 125.

[xix] Drucker, P. F. (2006). The essential Drucker: the best of sixty years of Peter Drucker’s essential writings on management. New York, NY: HarperBusiness. p. 257.

[xx] Drucker, P. F. (2006). The essential Drucker: the best of sixty years of Peter Drucker’s essential writings on management. New York, NY: HarperBusiness. p. 253.

[xxi] Drucker, P. F. (2006). The essential Drucker: the best of sixty years of Peter Drucker’s essential writings on management. New York, NY: HarperBusiness. p. 112.

[xxii] Drucker, P. F. (2006). The essential Drucker: the best of sixty years of Peter Drucker’s essential writings on management. New York, NY: HarperBusiness. p. 113.

[xxiii] Drucker, P. F. (2006). The essential Drucker: the best of sixty years of Peter Drucker’s essential writings on management. New York, NY: HarperBusiness. pp. 118-119.

[xxiv] Drucker, P. F. (2006). The essential Drucker: the best of sixty years of Peter Drucker’s essential writings on management. New York, NY: HarperBusiness. p. 149.

[xxv] Drucker, P. F. (2006). The essential Drucker: the best of sixty years of Peter Drucker’s essential writings on management. New York, NY: HarperBusiness. p. 92.

[xxvi] Drucker, P. F. (2006). The essential Drucker: the best of sixty years of Peter Drucker’s essential writings on management. New York, NY: HarperBusiness. p. 278.

[xxvii] Author’s Note: Occam’s Razor is the principle that when there are two competing theories,  the simplest solution is the usually the better one.

[xxviii] Drucker, P. F. (2006). The essential Drucker: the best of sixty years of Peter Drucker’s essential writings on management. New York, NY: HarperBusiness. p. 274.

[xxix] Drucker, P. F. (2006). The essential Drucker: the best of sixty years of Peter Drucker’s essential writings on management. New York, NY: HarperBusiness. p. 58.

[xxx] Drucker, P. F. (2006). The essential Drucker: the best of sixty years of Peter Drucker’s essential writings on management. New York, NY: HarperBusiness. p. 315

[xxxi] Drucker, P. F. (2006). The essential Drucker: the best of sixty years of Peter Drucker’s essential writings on management. New York, NY: HarperBusiness. p. 59.

[xxxii] Drucker, P. F. (2006). The essential Drucker: the best of sixty years of Peter Drucker’s essential writings on management. New York, NY: HarperBusiness. p. 61.

[xxxiii] Drucker, P. F. (2006). The essential Drucker: the best of sixty years of Peter Drucker’s essential writings on management. New York, NY: HarperBusiness. p. 61.

[xxxiv] Drucker, P. F. (2006). The essential Drucker: the best of sixty years of Peter Drucker’s essential writings on management. New York, NY: HarperBusiness. p. 58.

[xxxv] Drucker, P. F. (2006). The essential Drucker: the best of sixty years of Peter Drucker’s essential writings on management. New York, NY: HarperBusiness. p. 20.

[xxxvi] Drucker, P. F. (2006). The essential Drucker: the best of sixty years of Peter Drucker’s essential writings on management. New York, NY: HarperBusiness. p. 318.

[xxxvii] Drucker, P. F. (2006). The essential Drucker: the best of sixty years of Peter Drucker’s essential writings on management. New York, NY: HarperBusiness. p. 64.

[xxxviii] Drucker, P. F. (2006). The essential Drucker: the best of sixty years of Peter Drucker’s essential writings on management. New York, NY: HarperBusiness. p. 316.

[xxxix] Drucker, P. F. (2006). The essential Drucker: the best of sixty years of Peter Drucker’s essential writings on management. New York, NY: HarperBusiness. p. 330-331.

[xl] Brewster, D. (2014). The business case for partnering with communities: Investing in nonprofits through people. Retrieved from http://www.interaction.org/blog/business-case-partnering-communities-investing-nonprofits-through-people

[xli] Drucker, P. F. (2006). The essential Drucker: the best of sixty years of Peter Drucker’s essential writings on management. New York, NY: HarperBusiness. p. 308.

[xlii] Drucker, P. F. (2006). The essential Drucker: the best of sixty years of Peter Drucker’s essential writings on management. New York, NY: HarperBusiness. p. 78.

[xliii] Drucker, P. F. (2006). The essential Drucker: the best of sixty years of Peter Drucker’s essential writings on management. New York, NY: HarperBusiness. p. 79-80.

[xliv] Drucker, P. F. (2006). The essential Drucker: the best of sixty years of Peter Drucker’s essential writings on management. New York, NY: HarperBusiness. p. 80.

[xlv] Drucker, P. F. (2006). The essential Drucker: the best of sixty years of Peter Drucker’s essential writings on management. New York, NY: HarperBusiness. p. 268.

[xlvi] Drucker, P. F. (2006). The essential Drucker: the best of sixty years of Peter Drucker’s essential writings on management. New York, NY: HarperBusiness. p. 288.

[xlvii] Drucker, P. F. (2006). The essential Drucker: the best of sixty years of Peter Drucker’s essential writings on management. New York, NY: HarperBusiness. p. 269.

[xlviii] Drucker, P. F. (2006). The essential Drucker: the best of sixty years of Peter Drucker’s essential writings on management. New York, NY: HarperBusiness. p. 269.

[xlix] Drucker, P. F. (2006). The essential Drucker: the best of sixty years of Peter Drucker’s essential writings on management. New York, NY: HarperBusiness. p. 270.

[l] Drucker, P. F. (2006). The essential Drucker: the best of sixty years of Peter Drucker’s essential writings on management. New York, NY: HarperBusiness. p. 270.

[li] Drucker, P. F. (2006). The essential Drucker: the best of sixty years of Peter Drucker’s essential writings on management. New York, NY: HarperBusiness. p. 271.

[lii] Drucker, P. F. (2006). The essential Drucker: the best of sixty years of Peter Drucker’s essential writings on management. New York, NY: HarperBusiness. p. 158-159.

[liii] Gabler, N. (2006). Walt Disney: The triumph of the American imagination. New York: Knopf.

[liv] Jackson, m. (2008, June 5). Ballmer to retire in 10 years; Looks back on happy, rocky relationship with Gates. Retrieved from http://www.dailytech.com/Ballmer+to+Retire+in+10+Years+Looks+Back+on+Happy+Rocky+Relationship+With+Gates/article11993.htm

[lv] Collins, J. L. S. (2013). Creative followership: In the shadow of greatness: My journey to President of Chick-fil-a. Decatur, GA: Looking Glass Books.

[lvi] Drucker, P. F. (2006). The essential Drucker: the best of sixty years of Peter Drucker’s essential writings on management. New York, NY: HarperBusiness. p. 218-219.

[lvii] Drucker, P. F. (2006). The essential Drucker: the best of sixty years of Peter Drucker’s essential writings on management. New York, NY: HarperBusiness. pp. 219-220.

[lviii] Collins, J. L. S. (2013). Creative followership: In the shadow of greatness: My journey to President of Chick-fil-a. Decatur, GA: Looking Glass Books.

[lix] Drucker, P. F. (2006). The essential Drucker: the best of sixty years of Peter Drucker’s essential writings on management. New York, NY: HarperBusiness. pp. 207-208.

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Tom Peters and Excellence

Recently I was reading The Firm: The Story of McKinsey and Its Secret Influence on American Business by Duff McDonald. If you are not familiar with McKinsey, it is the leading consulting firm in America, attracting Harvard MBAs and other would-be masters of the universe. McKinsey is to consulting what Google is to Tech or Goldman Sachs is to finance.

 The Firm

I was particularly struck by a passage about Peters and Waterman’s classic, In Search of Excellence. The book began as a McKinsey consulting project originally entitled Secrets of Excellence. Apparently it was not viewed internally as viable or valuable, but despite all of the smart people in the room (and McKinsey has a lot of smart people), Peters and Waterman keep pursuing it. It ultimately launched his career—not his first successful career as a brilliant consultant—but his second career as a wildly successful speaker and author.

In Search

In another interesting passage, an internal McKinsey profile of Peters described him as “undisciplined, but brilliant.”  Peters response was classic: “I have no problem with ‘brilliant,’ but ‘undisciplined’ made me turn purple in the face. You don’t write sixteen books, give three thousand speeches, and work eighteen hours a day for thirty years, and be undisciplined.” (p. 154). In characteristic style, he began his next sentence with a four-letter word that was not printed here because this is a family-friendly blog.

What Tom Peters did was invent new categories. Though Peter Drucker had been publishing for decades, Peters and Waterman invented the blockbuster business book. The book sold millions of copies and  In Search of Excellence defined business thinking for a decade. Peters was labeled a “business guru,” a term that would later describe only the premier business authors such as Blanchard, Collins, Covey, Drucker, and Maxwell.  More importantly, he continued his success with a series of additional books that continue to add value (I use some of them in my MBA classes at Charleston Southern University).

I have listed his books below because I believe they are valuable resources. Peters just thinks differently. It is almost as if there is something wrong with him that causes him to see things that the rest of us just miss—like a rebellious autistic savant. I mean that in the most complimentary way (and I think Peters would take that as a compliment). He just sees things that the rest of us miss. Every Peters book that I have read has been worth far more than the full retail price and you can purchase many on Amazon for a penny plus shipping. I have also listed a dozen free eBooks from www.tompeters.com Happy Reading!

-Darin Gerdes

 

Books by Tom Peters:

1982 – In Search of Excellence (with Robert H. Waterman, Jr.)

1984 – A Passion for Excellence (with Nancy Austin)

1987 – Thriving on Chaos

1992 – Liberation Management

1994 – The Tom Peters Seminar: Crazy Times Call for Crazy Organizations

1994 – The Pursuit of WOW!: Every Person’s Guide to Topsy-Turvey Times

1997 – The Circle of Innovation: You Can’t Shrink Your Way to Greatness

Reinventing Work Series 50List Books

1999 – The Brand of You50: Fifty Ways to Transform Yourself from an Employee into a Brand that Shouts Distinction, Commitment, and Passion!

1999 – The Project50: Fifty Ways to Transform Every “Task” into a Project That Matters!

1999 – The Professional Service Firm50: 50 Ways to Transform Your “Department” into a Professional Service Firm Whose Trademarks are Passion and Innovation!

2003 – Re-imagine! Business Excellence in a Disruptive Age

2005 – Sixty

The Essentials Series

2005 – Essentials: Leadership

2005 – Essentials: Talent

2005 – Essentials: Design

2005 – Essentials: Trends (with Marth Barlettta)

2010 – The Little Big Things: 163 Ways to Pursue Excellence

 

eBooks:

Excellence Now Series (inexpensive – .99-$9.99)

2012 – Excellence Now

2012 – Excellence Now: Innovation

2012 – Excellence Now: Action

2012 – Excellent Now: Purpose

2012 – How To Be a Great Professional Services Firm

2013 – Surviving the (Never-Ending) Downturn

2013 – Getting Stuff (That Matters) Done

2012 – Really First Things First

2012 – You Matter to Me

2013 – People First!

The Little The BIG Things Enhanced eBook Series

2010 – The Little Big Things: Excellence

2010 – The Little Big Things: Strategy

2010 – The Little Big Things: Enterprise

2010 – The Little Big Things: Leadership

2010 – The Little Big Things: You

The BRAWL WITH NO RULES series

2002 – We Are in a Brawl with No Rules (Free .pdf)

2002 – The Work Matters! (Free .pdf)

2002 – Women Roar (Free .pdf)

2002 – The Case for Brand Inside (Free .pdf)

2002 – The Heart of Branding (Free .pdf)

2002 – Design Mindfulness (Free .pdf)

2002 – Education and Third Millennium Work (Free .pdf)

2002 – The Death Knell for “Ordinary”: Pursuing Difference (Free .pdf)

2002 – The High Standard Deviation Enterprise (Free .pdf)

2002 – In Search of Excellence: A Three-Generation Report Card (Free .pdf)

2002 – The Professional Service Firm (Free .pdf)

2002 – Boss – Free Implementation of Stuff Matters (Free .pdf)

2002 – Talent (Free .pdf)

2002 – Webworld (Free .pdf)
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faculty_gerdes_sm

Dr. Darin Gerdes is an associate professor and director of graduate programs in the School of Business at Charleston Southern University. His interdisciplinary background includes undergraduate degrees in government and psychology from Liberty University, a master of business administration, a master of arts in public policy and a PhD in organizational leadership from Regent University. He designed the master of arts in organizational leadership program at Charleston Southern University.

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The Key to Effective Teamwork

Do you remember when you had group projects in college?

Why You Hate Teamwork

You probably hated it because a number of your teammates coasted while you did all the work. Worse, all received the same grade for your efforts. You probably thought your teammates were just lazy or irresponsible, but this is a common phenomenon called social loafing in the business literature. In economics, it is called the free rider problem.

 

File:Liffey College student 01.jpg

Some students worked hard as others doodled. A couple found group project meetings to be the perfect opportunity to flirt with someone new. A few never even showed up to the group meeting. You remember. This is why you still don’t like teamwork.

In my textbook I discussed the phenomenon as follows:

“Social loafing is treason against the group, and the loafer is a leech who drains the group of resources without returning equivalent to the group.  In a classroom setting, a social loafer ought to receive no mercy from his professor or the group he lets down.”

-(The Bottom Line in Leadership and Management)

These strongly worded  lines were a warning to my students to play nice with others, but I have since found a better way.

Why You Will Love Teamwork Again

If you have read my blog for any length of time, you know that I teach graduate students at Charleston Southern University. Last week I had one of those AHA moments that I relish.

After completing a particularly challenging class project, a student in her final semester mentioned in passing that this was her “best group project experience to date.” Remember, she was just about to graduate and she said that this was the best group experience she had.

Intrigued by the remark, I gave it some considerable thought.  Later and I suggested that “it was because you all came to it with the right attitude and spirit.” It was really that simple.

What was the Difference?

This was a class entitled Fundamentals of Leadership, and the very nature of the course forced students to think deeply about their motivations and attitudes. The were individually thinking about becoming the kind of leaders that others would want to follow. When they came together with servant-leadership foremost in their minds, they acted accordingly.

Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25-28)

The “all chiefs and no indians” attitude disappeared. No one tried to play CEO of Group Project, Inc. Everyone showed up and pulled their own weight. They served  voluntarily, without cajoling each other to get the work done. A number of students even described the experience as “enjoyable.”

The parameters of the class project were no different than in other classes. Moreover, it was not because they were focused on the mission. There was no conscious effort on the part of anyone in the class to rally around a mission. The difference was that they each aspired to become the kind of  leader that they know they should be.

What about you? In your project teams, do your colleagues come to serve the group or do they try to do the least they can to get by? 

Wouldn’t this kind of attitude be refreshing in your office?

-Darin Gerdes

PS – There is no magic to this process. As the professor, I mold the discussion, but the core of this thinking comes from the books students read for class: Lead Like Jesus, The Steward Leader, The Leadership Challenge, and Leadership and Self-Deception. Incidentally, these are 4 of my Top Ten Leadership books.

Want to read more about excellence in teamwork? Read the related post:  What Navy SEALS Can Teach Us About Teamwork.

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Dr. Gerdes is the Director of Graduate Programs in the School of Business at Charleston Southern University. All ideas expressed on www.daringerdes.com are his own.

 

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Understanding Leadership

A leader, properly understood, is a leadership agent. 

That is, that the leader is not the end, but the conduit to the desirable future that followers seek.  The leader is only an agent of the purpose, vision, or mission. If you doubt what I am suggesting here, try this:

The Leadership Test

Step 1: Advocate a strongly held political position (e.g. national defense, environmentalism, free-market libertarianism, or the need for socialized medicine). For our purposes here, it does not matter what position you choose.

Step 2. Advocate that position until you have amassed a list of 1,000 hard-core followers. You know the kind. They contribute to the cause or attend protest marches. They wear the t-shirts. They talk incessantly about the issue at social gatherings.  And you, by virtue of your advocacy have become a leader of the movement.

Step 3. Now prove how much of a leader you are. Show us that your people will follow you anywhere.

Reverse course and see what happens.

If you were telling your followers that we were all going to die because global warming was going melt the poles, tell your followers that you now believe that man-made carbon emissions had nothing to do with the oh-so-slight changes in temperature. See how they react.

Or, if you were a free-marketeer, embrace socialized medicine and tell your libertarian friends that we pay far too little in taxes. Back it up with charts like this one from the Atlantic Magazine.

Credit to DANIEL INDIVIGLIO, The Atlantic Magazine

In either scenario, your reception will likely be rather icy (no pun intended).

Step 4: Count the followers that remain. This will be the easiest step because it will show if your followers were following you or the mission (and you may not have to count more than single digits). A few will remain out of loyalty or friendship, but the rest will turn on you like white blood cells attacking an infection.

Why Do People Follow Leaders?

Bob Dylan was right–“You’ve go to serve somebody.” Leaders serve a cause.

As a leader, you are an agent of the vision. Steward that vision. Magnify it. Champion it. Embody it. Do this and people will follow you.

Some might object to my example because as extreme because of the political context. But is it really any different in an organizational  context?

    • The goal of the Christian individually or church corporately  is to follow G0d.
    • The corporation is organized to generate profits and they do this with a common focus by following the mission statement.
    • In the military, soldiers swear an oath to support and defend the Constitution.

Why Leaders Go Wrong

When leaders get in trouble it is because they forget this crucial understanding of their role and when they do, they become self-serving leaders. They begin to think that they are the end, and not the means.  When they do this, they delegitimize their leadership authority.

Oh, they may still hold the office, but they have forfeited the moral authority of leadership. Remember you are a steward of agent of the mission.

Do you agree or disagree? Are leaders really only agents of the mission? I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas.

Darin Gerdes, Ph.D.

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Dr. Gerdes is the Director of Graduate Programs in the School of Business at Charleston Southern University. All ideas expressed on www.daringerdes.com are his own.

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