Rosabeth Moss Kanter

The Change Master

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3 “ME’s” of Leadership (Excerpt from Confidence)

Posted by rosabethkanter on February 26, 2010

Leaders deliver confidence by espousing high standards in their messages, exemplifying these standards in the conduct they model, and establishing formal mechanisms to provide a structure for acting on those standards.

Espouse: the power of message. Leaders articulate standards, values, and visions.  They give pep talks. Their messages can incite to action when that is appropriate, or they can calm and soothe people to prevent them from panicking. We saw in Chapter 2 that pep talks are empty without evidence, so let’s call this “grounded optimism” – positive expectations based on specific facts that justify the optimism.  In the strong cultures that develop in winning streaks, leaders’ messages are internalized and echo throughout the system.  Players on the North Carolina women’s soccer team seemed to have Anson Dorrance’s voice in their heads.  At Continental Airlines, numerous people in a variety of jobs quoted Gordon Bethune’s favorite sayings.  From the Go Forward Plan to Bethune’s weekly voicemails, people learned from what Continental leaders espoused.  The messages provided practical information, inspiration, and a feeling of inclusion, as everyone knew everyone else heard the same message.

Exemplify: the power of models.  Leaders serve as role models, leading through the power of personal example. “I don’t believe as a leader you can ever expect anybody to do things you are not willing to do yourself,” said Mike Babcock of the Mighty Ducks.  The leaders I saw in winning streaks and turnarounds sought to exemplify the kinds of accountable, collaborative behavior they sought in others.  Certainly the personal example of truth and reconciliation, inclusion, and empowerment set by Nelson Mandela reflected one of the most remarkable and admirable personal journeys of the twentieth century.  In a different country and different way, Akin Ongor of Garanti Bank was an inspiring business role model with courage, and compassion – offering to resign when he discovered that the bank had lost $14 million due to a junior manager’s mistake that control systems had not caught because he said he “shared the mistake,” or mobilizing the bank’s employees to help in the aftermath of an earthquake in Turkey.

Establish: the power of formal mechanisms.  Leaders develop processes, routines, and structures.  They embed winners’ behavior in the culture not just through person-to-person and generation-to-generation transfers of norms, but also through the formal mechanisms that embed positive behavior in team and organizational routines.  North Carolina women’s soccer coach Anson Dorrance or Connecticut women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma had many systematic ways to forge their players into a victory machine that just kept winning – a yearly calendar of activities including off-season events, routines for practices, assessment tools, leadership seminars, a schedule of meetings.  The teams changed composition, as players turned over, but the structures and processes remained. The winning teams that resulted were not a force of nature, they were a product of professional disciplines and structures.  Nelson Mandela’s leadership in South Africa was manifested not just through his inspiring message and model but through the structure of a new government, legislation, formal events such as town meetings on a new constitution and hearings by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Leaders must deliver confidence at every level: self-confidence, confidence in each other, confidence in the system, and the confidence of external investors and the public that their support is warranted.

Posted in Change Management, Communication, Leadership, Management | 1 Comment »

“I have a dream” for how America can help Haiti

Posted by rosabethkanter on January 14, 2010

Our hearts and our aid must go out to the people of Haiti. These are our neighbors. Thank you, President Obama, for mobilizing swift action to save lives.

As the magnitude of the tragedy unfolds, I have a dream. I have a dream about what a strong American response to this disaster could mean.

Perhaps we can take a pause from partisan politics to think about this tragedy in the midst of an impoverished nation. We can help now and also help with the rebuilding, to show that our wealth and might can contribute to our region over the long haul – and while we’re at it, perhaps see what work remains to be done on our own continent in New Orleans where Katrina damage remains. Perhaps we could vow to come the aid of US citizens who still suffer after the first relief efforts end.

Perhaps the bailed-out bonus baby bankers could lend their private planes and empty their pockets to help – or sponsor AmeriCorps teams that could be deployed to the island. Perhaps Congress could agree on passing a health care bill of a different sort, to add support for non-profit groups such as Paul Farmer’s Partners in Health or Doctors without Borders to work in Haiti. Or perhaps politicians could rethink immigration restrictions, or provide support for communities that open their doors to survivors.

This is only a dream. But with Martin Luther King Day coming up on Monday, why not have a dream of calling on our better selves?

And, pragmatically, we could shore up our leadership in the Southern Hemisphere where the politics are running against us, while polishing our humanitarian image elsewhere.

Posted in Management, Smarter Communities, Social Entrepreneurship | Leave a Comment »

Council of the Americas PodCast – SuperCorp

Posted by rosabethkanter on November 12, 2009

Audio: SuperCorp Book Launch.

Posted in Corporate Citizenship, Innovation, Leadership, Management | Leave a Comment »

What would Peter say?: The continuing relevance of the Drucker perspective

Posted by rosabethkanter on October 21, 2009

Drucker3

Heeding the wisdom of Peter Drucker might have helped us avoid—and will help us solve—numerous challenges plaguing communities around the world: restoring trust in business in the wake of accounting scandals and the global financial crisis; attracting and motivating the best talent without creating crippling financial commitments; addressing societal problems such as climate change, health care, and public education; dealing with trouble spots in central Asia and the Middle East.

If Peter Drucker were here today, what would he have to say about such pressing matters? His first comment might be “I told you so”—and he would have every right to say that. In remarkably prescient writings, he pointed to important trends and looming disasters. He took a broad look at the context surrounding organizations, noting jarring events he called discontinuities. Next, since the signs of difficulties ahead were there all along, he might follow up by telling us, “Look at the underlying systems.” Drucker rarely named or blamed individuals; he saw root causes in the design of organizations—in their structures, processes, norms, and routines. He would remind us that it is the responsibility of executives to challenge that design while being mindful of their companies’ ultimate purpose. Then he might finish by asking leaders a few provocative questions: “What is your mission? What should you stop doing? Where has the drive for short-term efficiencies undermined long-term effectiveness? What should be your objectives and guiding principles?”

Rest of the article is available online at Harvard Business Review

Copyright © 2009 Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation. All rights reserved.

Posted in Drucker, Management | 22 Comments »

How happy are you at work?

Posted by rosabethkanter on October 19, 2009

My October 19, 2009 HarvardBusiness.org blog post, 10 Ways to Find Joy at Work has received a flurry of activity on Twitter since it was published, raising the question: “How happy are you at work?” Now you can tell us. You can explain your answer or offer insights in the comments section below.

Posted in Creativity, Management, Managing Yourself, Morale | Leave a Comment »