Steve Jobs And Leadership Success

Rip Steve JobsWired Magazine just published this worthwhile read, The Story of Steve Jobs: An Inspiration or a Cautionary Tale?. It asks whether Jobs' thorny, authoritarian approach to leadership should be emulated. It's a good article, but it misses a big point: Jobs success may not be due to his rude-boy style. It may be more attributable to his entrepreneurial vision and the historical moment in which he lived and created.

Henry Ford also built an incredible company. Like Jobs, he was uncompromising. He broke conventions. It was a bold, brilliant move to pay his workers more, buffeting the advice of his board. By all accounts, Ford demanded the performance of others that he demanded of himself. Yet he was also an infamous anti-semite and basically toxic human being...

Change Leadership, Defined

leading change

Because the world is changing fast, leading change is perhaps the critical leadership capability. Here are some useful distinctions and a simple, powerful exercise for your team.

John Kotter, at Harvard Business School, branded "change leadership" with his 1996 book, Leading Change (republished 2012). He's a lucid writer; it's worthwhile reading. He argues the facts: we are simply not that good at leading change.

The Unique Challenges of Family Owned Businesses

family owned business

The unique challenges of family owned businesses center on performance - low performance. If you have family owned businesses, there are two studies worth paying attention to, one just published, the other from 2007. Both place family owned businesses in last place in two critical categories. The first is business performance. The second is board performance.

The 2007 study, a pedigreed academic work  from the School’s of Economics at both Stanford and London, and McKinsey surveyed 4000 mid-sized companies. The upshot of that study is that a relatively small and sustained investment in leadership training results in a 25% increase in staff productivity and 65% increase in return on capital. Most organizations underplay such investments, often in favor...

Team X-Ray App: Cracking the Code on Higher Performance

Team X-Ray App

Approximately 70% of change initiatives underperform or fail (see Beyond Change Management, 2010). The numbers are similar for mergers and acquisitions.

Big numbers. So expensive. Why?

Because change leadership is a mission-critical capability, and most organizations don't have it. Most leaders simply are not on an explicitly conscious path to higher performance that cultivates their ability to lead change.

At Growth River, we've strived to crack the code - to establish an approach to raising team performance...


Leaders Create The Conditions For Emergence

Zippered Chrysalis

A client cancelled a meeting today. So I'm catching up on reading. Roger Trapp just posted on Forbes, Successful Organizations Need Leaders At All Levels.

Yes. Agreed. There is a dearth of qualified leaders, and for many reasons, as Trapp details.

I also read a pedigreed academic study from the School's of Economics at both Stanford and London, and McKinsey. The study surveyed 4000 mid-sized companies, observing that a relatively small and sustained investment in leadership training results in a 25% increase in staff productivity and 65% increase in return on capital. Not surprising. But it is nice to have the numbers. That a debate even exists...

CSR: Harvard Business Review Over-Simplifies The Point


arvard Business Review posts The Daily Stat. I recommend subscribing. Here's today's post - it's problematic:

Investors May React Emotionally to Corporate Responsibility (CSR)

In an experiment, graduate business students who studied a fictional retailer’s finances valued the company at $25.92 per share if they were told it had an above-average record on such corporate-responsibility issues as labor and the environment, and just $19.14 per share if its performance on those measures was said to be below average, according to a team led by Mark E. Peecher of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. But the valuation gap disappeared when the participants were encouraged to think carefully about the company’s CSR, suggesting that the high valuations in the above-average case were “unintentional” and based on emotions. “One wants to avoid being overly swayed by” CSR, the researchers say.

Here's my response: Oh boy. Context is everything...

Purpose Of Feedback


Sometimes people are uncomfortable with the idea of receiving feedback from work colleagues. Understanding how feedback is different from advice can help.

Feedback is information that gives you insights around how effectively you are or are not achieving your intention to play your job role well.

Feedback is essential to progress. It provides you with accurate information about the way you work with others.

Feedback can act both as a stimulus to change your behavior and as a catalyst...

How Do You Know That Was A Successful Meeting?

successful meeting
Meetings are essential to getting things done in businesses, but how do you know a meeting was actually effective? Indeed, how do you know whether any conversation is actually effective?

This post provides a link to an article that provides a comprehensive and powerful approach to running a successful meeting for high performing teams.

If you’re serious about raising the bar in your organization, an important leverage point is knowing which kind of meeting is required for the task at hand. Moreover, having effective meetings is not just an exercise in following rules. Let’s face it: business culture is meeting culture. The speed at which complexity can be managed – the speed of innovation – is dependent...

The Art Of Leading Change -- How to push.

How do you lead change in a business so that other's follow? What is the right way to push? Pushing Change 

Let me share an experience of leading change:

I was working a with the senior team as a business coach at a real estate development company. They said they wanted to grow their company but believed it was not possible. To understand why, you need to understand how they found new investment opportunities.

The way in which they found most new investment opportunities was by having one of the partners drive to work a different route everyday. He had a great talent for seeing opportunities. However, it could take him a long time to find the right opportunities. The logic was that since...

The Stages to Becoming a Higher Performing Team: A Primer


The path to becoming a higher performing team and culture follows predictable stages. Recognizing and understanding this truth, if fully embraced, can fundamentally change the way you look at your organization. And more important, it will enable you to consciously and deliberately create the conditions for developing a high-performing team and culture.

The pathway to success is simple. Organizational development has predictable and knowable stages. Each stage has it's strengths, weaknesses and limitations. And there are clear milestones that need to be reached to move to the next higher stage of development. With this knowledge, you can map the path forward and establish clear and specific next steps for moving down that path.

Just as people, cultures and natural systems go through developmental stages...