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  1. What the Best Leaders See
  2. The Key to Driving a High-Performance Culture
  3. Book Review: Accountability
  4. Breakthrough Strategies for Increasing Diversity and Improving Your Bottom Line
  5. Business with a Purpose
  6. Search Soundview Executive Book Summaries
  7. Prior Mailing Archive

What the Best Leaders See

THE POWER OF NOTICING

Take Off Those Blinders and See the Truth
In many ways, The Power of Noticing, the latest book from the prolific Max Bazerman, will somewhat dishearten his readers — if not enrage them. In sometimes horrific and often damning detail, Bazerman exposes the disastrous consequences of having leaders with blinders on who fail to notice — or pretend not to notice — what is truly happening around them.

From Cheating to Tragedies

The litany of cases described by Bazerman involves many incidents barely known by the public, such as the story of a medicine whose price grew in a few years from $50 per vial to $28,000 — yes three zeroes— per vial; the Harvard professor who was faking his data; and the egregious misdirection used by politicians and marketers (and magicians) to fool the public. There are also some well-known cases:

  • Morton Thiokol and NASA scientists failed to notice the pattern of low-temperature failures of its O-rings and, as a result, went forward with a low-temperature launch of the Shuttle Challenger. Seven astronauts lost their lives in the ensuing mid-air explosion.
  • Penn State officials and staff, from the president of the university, to the famed coach of the football team, to other coaches, failed to take decisive action, not even calling the police, in the face of recurring reports of rapes of young boys by assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.
  • Enron’s Board of Directors, despite specific accusations from a whistleblower and a warning from the company’s auditors that Enron was “pushing the limits” of accounting propriety, did nothing to investigate the possibility of wrongdoing.

Solutions for Ending the Madness

Although based at both the Harvard Business School and Harvard Kennedy School, Bazerman is not an ivory-tower pundit criticizing from the sidelines. Instead, he travels the world, pushing for solutions to unethical behavior and decision-making. In this book, Bazerman offers concise suggestions for preventing the abuses and crimes he documents. Three of these suggestions include:

 

  • Ask for the data. Many decisions are made based on the data presented. Decision-makers need to determine if more data is needed and what kind, and then to request that data. NASA scientists could have received the cold-temperature test results from Morton Thiokol and prevented the loss of seven lives.
  • Attack motivated blindness. Often, leaders who look the other way in the face of wrongdoing have deep-seated motivations to do so — such as protecting their university (the Sandusky scandal) or the church (in the case of the Catholic Church scandal). The solutions are clear: leaders have the responsibility to fully notice the facts and to act when it’s appropriate. And those who fail to act on reports of wrongdoing must face clear consequences. Finally, leaders must provide decision-makers in their organizations with the incentive to speak up.
  • Systemic changes. Bazerman has been working for years to convince policy makers to reform the auditing industry, in which companies pay the auditors — thus creating an almost insurmountable incentive for auditors to please their paymasters. Industry blindness occurs in many other industries and must be equally addressed with reform.

As with most of his works, The Power of Noticing offers Bazerman’s uniquely qualified insight into how the world works and how it should work.

     


The Key to Driving a High-Performance Culture

“Accountability is one of the biggest challenges business leaders face, but it can also be one of the most important factors leading to success.” Greg Bustin

Top business consultant and speaker Greg Bustin has dedicated a career to working with CEOs and the leadership teams of companies on this crucial topic. Over the last five years, he has interviewed and surveyed more than 3,200 executives around the world–from such admired companies as Marriott, Container Store, Ernst & Young, Sony, Herman Miller, Nucor, and Southwest Airlines–to understand how high-performing corporations successfully create and sustain a culture of purpose, trust, and fulfillment. Along the way, Bustin developed a set of leadership tools that will increase accountability and drive success for any type of organization.

Here are the Seven Pillars of Accountability that came out of his research:
•Character
•Unity
•Learning
•Tracking
•Urgency
•Reputation
•Evolution

If you would like to integrate accountability into your company, join Greg on September 4th for the Soundview Live webinar, The Key to Driving a High Performance Culture. Greg will provide powerful concepts and practical examples you can apply in your organization along with provocative questions and useful exercises to help you create a high-performance culture in your workplace.

     

Book Review: Accountability

accountability

by Greg Bustin

Being accountable and responsible for decisions and actions is challenging for business leaders. If you can learn to be more accountable, however, it can lead to success for you and your organization. In Accountability, business and leadership consultant Greg Bustin, offers insightful concepts and practical examples from companies that will increase accountability and drive success for any type of organization. This book is now available as a Soundview Executive Book Summary.

As Bustin writes, “Your sweet spot is where your personal core values (what you’re willing to do) intersect with your experience (what you can do) and your interests (what you want to do). Finding your sweet spot is one of the most gratifying accomplishments you can experience. It’s also a key to driving accountability.” Bustin urges leaders to be reflective about what is significant in their lives and make those thoughts into a set of goals to obtain. Learning more about your sweet spot requires becoming accountable for your work while helping all your employees transition from Point A to Point B with ease.

Accountability demonstrates how to use the Seven Pillars of Accountability to create your bridge to the future and help you reach your potential. Bustin introduces the Seven Pillars of Accountability: character, unity, learning, tracking, urgency, reputation and evolution. The first pillar is character, which helps leaders define their organization’s character and values so that they can communicate them. The other six characteristics complete the acronym C.U.L.T.U.R.E. This acronym will help remind leaders that culture is significant to performance. Accountability offers leaders practical steps to grow and sustain a high-performance culture within their business.

     


Breakthrough Strategies for Increasing Diversity and Improving Your Bottom Line

GENDER INTELLIGENCE

Why the Glass Ceiling Still Exists
The glass ceiling is still very much intact, write diversity consultants Barbara Annis and Keith Merron in their book Gender Intelligence, not because companies are unwilling to change but because companies are approaching the problem with the wrong mindset. The most well-meaning diversity managers and their executive bosses are failing in their efforts to empower women and develop more women leaders, because they are trying to build equality in numbers and sameness in behavior. In other words, in the male-dominated workplace, Annis and Merron write, women are taught that success depends on women acting more like men. What men do makes no difference, and they don’t have to change anything; it’s women who have to change.

Other leaders insist that they don’t discriminate against women. In their companies, these leaders explain, they have “gender-blind meritocracies.” The problem is that in many organizations, the supposedly objective criteria used to judge performance is based on male tendencies. For example, high-tech firms value people who communicate in a very rapid style, who are incredibly analytical, and who will tear down any idea or anyone that demonstrates a flaw in their thinking; these are typically male traits, and not surprisingly, women avoid the resulting aggressive, conflict-ridden environment created by such traits.

Men and Women are Different

The fact is that men and women are different and will always be different, the authors emphasize. In an early chapter of the book, the authors lay out the neuroscience that reveals how the brains of men and women are structured differently — for example, women have a greater prefrontal cortex, which enhances consequential thinking and moderates social behavior, thus leading them to look for win-win solutions to conflict, while men are going to take a more competitive approach.

Thus, asking women to act like men is asking women to be inauthentic. Inauthentic behavior is not only bound to fail, but it is also unnecessary. As the authors argue, the path to what the authors call “gender intelligent” companies is based on the understanding that the different styles of women, such as their less linear, more creative and web-like approach to problem solving, are of equal value to business as the ultra-linear, blinders-on, focused approach of men. The challenge is to bring the two styles together in a productive way. As the authors explain, “Teaching women to think, act, problem-solve and lead like men devalues and discourages women while limiting the vast potential of the masculine and feminine blend in leadership that is crucial for success in tomorrow’s workplace.”

In the second half of the book, the authors focus on achieving this productive blend. They lay out, for example, the three fundamental shifts for becoming a gender- intelligent leader: 1) going from a sameness mindset to embracing the value in gender differences; 2) creating meritocracies based on different models for success; and 3) recognizing when their behaviors are not congruent with their intentions — too many leaders have gender blind spots that undermine their well-meaning efforts.

The authors also explore how functions, processes and systems work in gender-intelligent organizations. For example, Deloitte, which once depended on nearly all male consultants advising all-male clients, now recognizes that women partners who listen, are understanding and encourage dialogue can be effective and in some instances even more effective consultants than their male colleagues.

The greatest contribution of this essential book, however, is in shining a light on the fact that the glass ceiling exists not because men want it there but because both men and women working to shatter the ceiling are building their efforts on the wrong assumptions.

*Barbara Annis is also the author, along with John Gray, of Work with Me: The 8 Blind Spots Between Men and Women in Business.

     

Business with a Purpose

Here at Soundview, we’re always looking for the latest trends in business. These trends are highlighted by the hot topics of the business books that are being published. Recently, there seems to be many books coming across our desk on Purpose.

One such title is The Purpose Economy by Aaron Hurst, which we are summarizing this month and hosting a webinar with in September. Like the Information Economy, which has driven innovation and economic growth until now, Hurst argues that our new economic era is driven by connecting people to their purpose. It’s an economy where value lies in establishing purpose for employees and customers through serving needs greater than their own, enabling personal growth and building community.

Part of the Do Books series, Do/Purpose is written by David Hieatt. In Do/Purpose, Hieatt offers insights on how to build one of these purpose-driven companies. You know, those rare brands we all fall in love with. The crazy ones that don’t just make something, but change something as well.

Another purpose-focused book is Black Hole Focus by Isaiah Hankel. As Hankel puts it, “Don’t get stuck on a career path you have no passion for. Don’t waste your intelligence on something that doesn’t really mean anything more to you than a paycheck. Let (me) help you define a focus so powerful that everything in your life will be pulled towards it. Create your purpose and change your life. Be focused. Be fulfilled. Be successful.”

When we talk about corporate culture, there is also A Culture of Purpose by Christoph Lueneburger. Building a culture of purpose is one of the greatest challenges facing modern leaders, as today’s best minds are looking for meaning, not just jobs. More than any other single factor, cultures of purpose power winning organizations, attracting the smartest, most creative, most passionate talent.

There are more, but I’ll stop with these four. Why the interest in purpose? I think there are several factors that have brought this theme to the forefront.

One key factor is generational. The younger generations in the marketplace are looking for more than the Traditional and Baby Boomer generations when it comes to purpose. It’s no longer about making money to retire and enjoy life. It’s now about enjoying life along the way, and believing that what you do matters.

Another factor is the ever faster pace of life. As work spills over more and more into life, people want to know that what they’re doing has a purpose that is worth the sacrifice.

And perhaps a third factor might be a greater interest on the part of younger generations in the environment around them. They want to know that the company they work for is focused on the health and safety of people, and on the preservation of the environment. Again, this is purpose-driven living.

Perhaps you see additional factors at work that are causing this focus on purpose. We’d love to hear what you think. Post your own thoughts in the comments section of this blog for others to consider.

     



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