Three Intriguing Thoughts from Amazon’s Jeff Bezos

A recent HBR blog podcast interviewed the CEO of Amazon who, in a major study reported in the Harvard Business Review's Jan/Feb issue, was ranked #2 of global CEO's. The late Steve Jobs was #1. Jeff Bezos is an intriguing guy. He permits interviews sparingly and is somewhat of a contrarian around some commonly held business beliefs. In the short audio, Bezos makes three points that I think are worth CEO's and managers hearing about. He sees the DNA of Amazon as that of an explorer, vs. a … [Read more...]

Qualities of The Top CEO’s

Robert Rosen, CEO of the management consulting firm Healthy Companies International, reported in the July/2010 issue of Leadership Excellence magazine on conclusions gleaned from interviews of top executives in forty countries over the past 20 years. He and his team was looking for the attributes of the best leaders.   They singled out five key characteristics: Genuine. They naturally connect with and engage people. They are open and transparent about themselves and about hearing … [Read more...]

TW 2010 Global Workforce Study-Comment #1

  It's that time of year again when TowersWatson (formerly TowersPerrin) publishes its always informative Global Workforce Study. The 2010 report, conducted between November/09 and January/10, covered 20,000 full time employees of large and midsize organizations in 22 markets around the globe. Over the next several blog posts I want to highlight and comment on some of their main findings. As always, my focus will be on what the learnings are for managers and leaders. Three main themes … [Read more...]

True Leaders Leave a Huge Hole

I was struck by a local news item in The Washington Post on Brian Betts, a model middle school principal, who was found gunned down in his home. While the story obviously includes the murder aspect, I was touched by the leadership angle. Rising to a challenge: Here was a white man who took over a school that was struggling, in a lower income community that is predominantly African America and Hispanic. Furthermore, he talked openly with parents and students about it. Open to innovative … [Read more...]

Stepping into the Lion’s Den

Last week President Barack Obama stood before the Republican House of Representatives caucus and took direct questions. This is a group that, from the President's perspective, has been opposing his agenda adamantly at every turn. This fascinating event is the closest thing I've ever seen to what people with parliamentary systems know as Question Period (Canada) or Question Time (England). Leaving aside the political issues and possible motives ascribed to each side for engaging in the event, … [Read more...]

Book Review – Finding Our Way: Leadership For an Uncertain Time

By Margaret J. Wheatley Berrett-Koehler, 2005, ISBN #978-1-57675-317-0 Margaret Wheatley, back in 1992 with her book, Leadership and the New Science, was one of the first writers to bring into mainstream discussion the idea that organizations share a lot of the characteristics of living, self-organizing systems in nature. Large weather systems, ant colonies, and rush hour traffic patterns come to mind. In Finding Our Way Wheatley provocatively lays our how managers must operate to be … [Read more...]

Six Lessons from Public Sector Change Leaders

In July, 2009, Booz Allen Hamilton published an interesting study of leaders in the U.S. Federal Government, entitled "What It Takes to Change Government." The goal was to determine how key strategies are most effectively led and implemented. It goes without saying that leaders in the federal sector are encumbered by all sorts of forces, bureaucratic, political and constitutional. Nevertheless, I think the conclusions the researchers reached offer valid lessons for managers in other sectors … [Read more...]

A Great Read for Implementing Change

So much has been written about change, much of it fluff, some of it good. An eternal truth for leaders who would institute change, however, is that you must understand and be sensitive to people. By people I mean (1) individuals who will be required to make changes in their own ways of working and being and (2) sub groups (units, departments, functional experts, age cohorts, etc.) that share certain views, values, and history. Do you have to deal with a complex change in your organization … [Read more...]

Support for Your Headaches around Change

One of our associates in Fulcrum Associates, Rick Maurer, does cutting edge work around change and resistance. Recently he launched an exciting new initiative to bring together a wide range of concepts, practical ideas for the management of change and people who are interested in change. The vehicle for this project is a website called the Change Management Open Source Project. The site is inspired by the "open source" concept made famous by Linux operating system and Wikipedia, among others. … [Read more...]

Book Review – Change-Able Organization: Key Management Practices for Speed and Flexibility

By William R. Daniels & John G. Mathers Harvard Business School Press, 2002 ISBN #0-87584-949-0 Some organizations are like a big, hulking raft. They move slowly, deliberately, carry a lot of freight, and are difficult to turn. And what a bore to be crew on one of these vessels! Other organizations are more like a galley. Remember those movies about ancient Rome? Galleys are large, mobile, and also carry a fair amount of cargo. But the crew faces the stern, rowing in unison to the … [Read more...]