Saturday, October 15, 2011

James Patterson

 
Private:  #1 Suspect (Jack Morgan)
Kill Alex Cross by James Patterson 

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Everything I Need To Know About Managing ... I Learned From My Mother

Lesson #1: Honesty is the best policy

Oswald told the story about getting in trouble in school and having to bring a note home for his mother to sign. He found the girl in his class with the best penmanship, and had her sign the note. The next morning, he couldn't bring himself to go to school, so he told his mother he was sick. Eventually he admitted the truth.

His point was that you make a problem worse if you don't tell the truth. And he reminded listeners about how easy it is to lose credibility. Just one mistake undermines it and it's hard to get it back.

Lesson #2: Treat others with kindness. Be considerate.

Oswald reminded managers to be careful of the temptation to break rule #1 because you're trying to follow rule #2. It especially happens with performance appraisals, he said. If, to be considerate, you don't tell someone about poor performance, sooner or later you're going to have to fire the person, and that's not considerate.

Lesson #3: Be prepared.

Oswald related the story of his first car—and how he found an emergency kit in the trunk, put there by his mom. Some of the people who report to you may not be thinking ahead, he says, but you had better be. You're going to make better decisions and give better answers if you do.

Lesson #4: Patience is a virtue.

"I'm not strong on patience, Oswald says. For example, "I don't play golf." I always want to jump to the end, and I always think I've got the answer. But management requires bringing people along to the answer. It takes a tremendous amount of time to manage well, he adds.

He tells of a CEO mentor who did needlepoint to teach himself patience. That helped Oswald realize how important an attribute patience is.

Lesson #5: Teach by example.

Anyone in management is being watched, and everyone assumes that whatever the leader does must be OK. Oswald recalls the ritual at one company where he worked—VPs wouldn't leave the office until the president did, managers wouldn't leave until the VPs did, and so on. The clear message was that productivity didn't matter. Your evaluation was based on when you left the office.

Lesson #6: Respect others.

Some new managers think "I've arrived. Now I have respect." Respect is a two-way street, Oswald says. And it's not a title; it has to be earned (You get respect the old-fashioned way, he says, you earn it.)

Lesson #7: Associate with good people.

Oswald played a clip from the movie "As Good As It Gets" in which Jack Nicholson offers the compliment "You make me want to be a better man."  That's what happens when we associate with good people.

He did a business deal once, he says, that he was told no one could ever do. And he was proud that it was a great deal, but he didn't like the guy he made the deal with. Later, the guy reneged on the deal, but Oswald blamed himself. "I never should have done the deal with him in the first place," he said.

Lesson #8: Be an advocate.

Oswald remembers times his mom stood up for him, even when she didn't think he was right, and then let him have it later when they got home. In the same way, you have to stand up for your people, and maybe put your job on the line to stand up for theirs.

Lesson #9: Praise matters.

"Who's better at praise than mom?" Oswald asks. And managers have to be the same way. Never let yourself think, "They know they're good; I don't have to tell them."

Oswald tells of one CEO who would pick up the phone and call employees' significant others to tell them what a good job the employee is doing and how much he or she is appreciated.

Finally, says Oswald, remember that public praise is better then private praise.

Lesson #10: Do your best.

Growing up, Oswald said that it was challenging to come along after an older sister who never had less than an A, but what was important to Oswald's mom was effort.

In the same way, you have to recognize that a good benchmark for your managers is if they are doing their best. They are all going to have different skills and abilities, says Oswald, and you need to know that to be able to motivate them.

Bonus Lesson #11:  Be passionate about what you do.

Oswald closed with a bonus lesson, a clip from Lynyrd Skynyrd—a mother's wish for her son:

Ma told me when I was young ... follow your heart and nothing else ... All that I want for you my son, is to be satisfied.

What every mother wants, and what every CEO wants: people with passion.

In his keynote speech at BLR's Advanced Employment Issues Symposium, held recently in Nashville AEIS Las Vegas is November 17-18), BLR CEO Dan Oswald told an appreciative crowd about the 10 critical management lessons he learned from his mom.

Thanks to Stephen D. Bruce, PHR - Editor, HR Daily Advisor / HR Daily Advisor / BLR Business & Legal Reports
 
 

The Must-Have Leadership Skill

"We hired a new CEO, but had to let him go after just seven months," the chairman of an East Coast think tank complained to me recently. "His resume looked spectacular, he did splendidly in all the interviews. But within a week or two we were hearing pushback from the staff. They were telling us, 'You hired a first-rate economist with zero social intelligence.' He was pure command and control."

The think tank's work centers on interlocking networks of relationships with the board, staff, donors, and a wide variety of academics and policy experts. The CEO urgently needed to manage those relationships, but lacked the interpersonal skills that organizations increasingly need in their leaders. A CEO who fails to navigate those relationships artfully, the think tank's board saw, could torpedo the organization.

Why does social intelligence emerge as the make-or-break leadership skill set? For one, leadership is the art of accomplishing goals through other people.

As I've written with my colleague Richard Boyatzis, technical skills and self-mastery alone allow you to be an outstanding individual contributor. But to lead, you need an additional interpersonal skill set: you've got to listen, communicate, persuade, collaborate.

That was brought home to me yet again reading "Making Yourself Indispensable," by John H. Zenger, Joseph R. Folkman, and Scott E. Edinger, which makes the strong point that a leader's competencies are synergistic. The more different competencies a leader displays at strength, the greater her business results.

But there's another critically important rule-of-thumb: some competencies matter more than others, particularly at the higher levels of leadership. For C-level executives, for example, technical expertise matters far less than the art of influence: you can hire people with great technical skills, but then you've got to motivate, guide and inspire them.

While Zenger, Folkman, and Edinger make a strong empirical case that competencies matter, it overlooks a crucial point: some competencies matter more than others. Specifically, there are threshold competencies, the abilities every leader needs to some degree, and then there are distinguishing competencies, the abilities you find only in the stars.

You can be the most brilliant innovator, problem-solver or strategic thinker, but if you can't inspire and motivate, build relationships or communicate powerfully, those talents will get you nowhere. What Zenger and colleagues call the "interpersonal skills" — and what I call social intelligence — are the secret sauce in top-performing leadership.

Lacking social intelligence, no other combination of competences is likely to get much traction. Along with whatever other strengths they may have, the must-have is social intelligence.

So how do you spot this skill set? An executive with a long track record of satisfactory hires told me how his organization assessed social intelligence in a prospect during the round of interviews, group sessions, meals, and parties that candidates there routinely went through.

"We'd watch carefully to see if she talks to everyone at the party or a dinner, not just the people who might be helpful to her," he said. One of the social intelligence indicators: during a getting-to-know you conversation, does the candidate ask about the other person or engage in a self-centered monologue? At the same time, does she talk about herself in a natural way? At the end of the conversation, you should feel you know the person, not just the social self she tries to project.

I wouldn't use such subjective measures alone — you're better off to combine them with best practices on hiring without firing. But don't ignore your gut.

Daniel Goleman is Co-Director of the Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations at Rutgers University, co-author of Primal Leadership: Leading with Emotional Intelligence, and author of The Brain and Emotional Intelligence: New Insights and Leadership: Selected Writings.

Thanks to Daniel Goleman / Blogs HBR / Harvard Business School Publishing
http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2011/10/the_must-have_leadership_skill.html?referral=00563&cm_mmc=email-_-newsletter-_-daily_alert-_-alert_date&utm_source=newsletter_daily_alert&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=alert_date

 

Where Buzz Words Fit In Your Resume

Compare these two statements:

  • "Proactive leader of manufacturing teams."
  • "Achieved a 20% increase in productivity by reorganizing manufacturing teams."

The first statement uses the buzz word "proactive" but is unsupported by facts. The second statement would light up the eyes of any manufacturing executive or recruiter.

Every time buzz words take over from substantial fact, your resume becomes weaker, until it could apply to any job applicant anywhere. But your goal is to stand out, to become the one candidate everyone wants to meet. To achieve, that, you have to throw out the buzz words and become specific.

Compare these two statements:

  • "Expert in the use of state-of-the-art technology to design fully functional websites."
  • "Designed corporate website using Joomla for $4 million company."

The second sentence is three words shorter but a whole lot more impressive. When you avoid buzz words in your resume, you create room for the facts that will win you your next job.

Robin Schlinger is the founder of Robin's Resumes which provides excellent services to those who value the best in Resumes and Career Marketing documentation.

Thanks to Robin Schlinger / Careerealism
http://www.careerealism.com/buzz-words-resume/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+careerealism+%28CAREEREALISM%29

5 Leadership Lessons: EntreLeadership

Dave Ramsey defines EntreLeadership as "the process of leading to cause a venture to grow and prosper." Entreleaders know how to blend their entrepreneurial passion with servant-like leadership that motivates employees through persuasion instead of intimidation. EntreLeadership is a book about how business works from a practitioner. His advice, on nearly every facet of running a business, is based on solid principles. Here are just a few of his thoughts on leadership:

1  The very things you want from a leader are the very things the people you are leading expect from you. You must intentionally become more of each of these every day to grow yourself and your business. And to the extent you're not doing that, you're failing as a leader.

2  You want to know what is holding back your dreams from becoming a reality? Go look in your mirror. The good news is, if you're the problem, you're also the solution.

3  How do you begin to foster and live out this spirit of serving your team with strength? Avoid executive perks and ivory towers. Eat lunch with your team in the company lunchroom every day. Get your own coffee sometimes. No reserved parking spots. Look for the little actions you can take that say to your team that while you are in charge, and while you lead from strength, you are all in this together.

4  While persuasional leadership takes longer and takes more restraint at the time, it is much more efficient over the long haul. Positional leadership doesn't take as long in the exchange, but you have to do it over and over and over and over.

5  Too many people in business have abandoned sight of the fact that their team members are humans, they are people. Too many people in business have become so shallow that they are merely transactional, not relational. The people on your payroll are not units of production, they are people. They have dreams, goals, hurts, and crises. If you trample them or don't bother to engage them relationally you will forever struggle in your operations.
 
 
 

Revenue Per Employee: The Only Performance Goal You'll Ever Need For HR Leaders

Getting older is a bitch.  The body breaks down, the hair starts going gray.  Pharmaceutical commercials begin to be more interesting.

You also realize the way you do it isn't the only way it can or should be done.  Some call that perspective, others are blindsided by the shocking revelation they're a face in the crowd.

Case in point:  How do you measure the effectiveness of an HR Leader?  I'll define HR Leader fairly broadly to keep everyone engaged – let's say that's not only those who lead the HR function for an entire company, but also those with generalist responsibility over a client group of employees.  If you support a line of business or a function and have a flock of employees to hire, train and fire, you're an HR leader.

Talking about the effectiveness and performance of HR is a black hole.  You've got the transactional side, performance, talent acquisition, etc.  All sub-areas of HR have metrics, and HR leaders have been told that measurement is the key to the HR function being viewed as strategic.

But the top 20 metrics you can cite are really just white noise when it comes to measuring the effectiveness of an HR leader.

There's only one metric that really matters when measuring HR.  It's called Revenue Per Employee (RPE).  Take the revenue produced by your company or business unit and divide it by your total number of employee (FTEs for the budget geeks in the house).  

Compare Revenue Per Employee year over year for your HR leader.  Did it go up or down?  That's all you need to know. The rest is BS.

Here are some thoughts why Revenue Per Employee is the only metric that makes sense when viewing the performance of an HR Leader:

1. If it's about the business, there's no better measurement than revenue.  Everything else is a squishy mess that the line leaders don't understand or care to comprehend.

2. Your HR leader influences the biggest cost center in most companies – the people.  If revenue takes a hit, he/she should always have their eye on the denominator of the RPE formula. That's the expense side of the equation, and while it's easy to make the number look better for a couple of quarters by cutting heads, the RPE metric makes the short-term focus be balanced with a view towards what's going to deliver revenue over the next year – or five.

3. Everyone's situation is different and needs change from company to company.  The best HR leaders aren't attached to any single platform of what talent levers are most important.  Drop the right HR leader into the top job, and they should be able to evaluate the strategy that's going to deliver an upward trend on Revenue Per Employee for any company – whether that's Tyson Foods or Groupon.

4. All the stuff HR people love to argue about is embedded in the Revenue Per Employee formula.  You have a secret sauce related to Performance?  Innovation?  Sales?  Culture?  If it's something that can drive revenue, it impacts how you're going to be measured via Revenue Per Employee.  Pick any pet area of HR you love.  It's included in the formula if you really believe it can drive business results.  The big question is whether you can get more ROI towards Revenue Per Employee by focusing your time somewhere else.  That's the game and the question you have to ask.

5.  Revenue Per Employee is a great litmus test for an organization's HR MBOs.  You've got a project you want to spend a quarter on?  Wow, that organizational design stuff sounds great, but hold up – how's it going to generate a positive return to Revenue Per Employee?  If you can't articulate the impact to RPE and at least BS me a bit for how we're going to measure the return, you're probably not ready to talk about the money you want to spend on the project.

Start thinking about who you are as a HR pro related to Revenue Per Employee, and you quickly see some areas that you're weaker in than you'd like to be.  Me?  I'm a decent analytical guy and love to recruit.  My gap?  I'm not sure I've spent enough time thinking about training and development and how it impacts the productivity of the workforces I've supported.  If my past CEOs would have thrown the Revenue Per Employee slide up on a quarterly basis, that gap would have been exposed early and often.

Revenue Per Employee.  The smart CEOs don't need the details of what you're doing with the workforce, they just want to see that metric over time, then have a little conversation about the top 5 things your team is focusing on that's going to drive that number up. 

Demand to be evaluated via Revenue Per Employee only – if you dare.

Kris Dunn is the CHRO at Kinetix, a RPO firm for growth companies headquartered in Atlanta.  He's also the founder of the talent blogs The HR Capitalist and Fistful of Talent.
 
 
 

Leadership Development Without The Straight Lines

You won't find a straight line in nature. In fact, the only place you find straight lines is in artificial things, like books and theories on leadership development. We've got to change that.

Check the leadership development program at your place. Does it assume that people decide on a straight-line career ladder and then climb until they reach their potential? Does it assume that once someone stops climbing, that's it?

Those assumptions were probably always wrong, but now they're not just wrong, they're counterproductive. We need every willing brain in the game. We need all the talent we can find. That's why we need to change the way we think about leadership development so that we deal more effectively with some common situations. Here are just three of them.

We need more options for a person who takes time off to raise a family. People don't get dumber when they do that. In fact, they learn things it's almost impossible to teach.

We need to recognize that sometimes people choose leadership roles later in life. And many people who get moved into leadership roles early in life aren't ready then, but will be when they have a few miles on them.

We need to find ways for people to learn more and learn more about themselves by trying things out. Most of us are good at learning things from our experience. It's not a straight line, but it works. Most times, "try it out" beats "train it in."

For as long as there's been management, the common practice has been to make the person accommodate him or herself to the job and the company. For as long as there have been leadership development programs they've expected a straight line climb with no allowances for time off the ladder.

Leadership development in today's world will be more effective if we get rid of the straight lines and do things nature's way.

Thanks to Wally Bock / Envisia Learning
http://results.envisialearning.com/leadership-development-without-the-straight-lines/

 

Why Nice Guys Don't Always Make It To The Top

Nice guys may not finish first, according to research coauthored by Nir Halevy of the Stanford Graduate School of Business. In fact, taking care of others in your group and even taking care of outsiders may reduce a nice guy's chance of becoming a leader.

STANFORD GRADUATE SCHOOL OF BUSINESS — Typically regarded as a common virtue, generosity can also be a sign of weakness for leaders, according to a new study.

The research finds that contributing to the public good influences a person's status on two critical dimensions: prestige and dominance.

"People with high prestige are often regarded as saints, possessing a self-sacrificial quality and strong moral standards," said Robert Livingston, assistant professor of management and organizations at the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University. "However, while these individuals are willing to give their resources to the group, they are not perceived as tough leaders."

The researchers define dominance as an imposed alpha status whereas prestige is freely conferred admiration from others. Al Capone, for example, characterizes a high-dominance individual, whereas Mother Theresa represents a high-prestige individual.

The study argues that people with high prestige are perceived as desirable leaders in noncompetitive contexts; they are seen as submissive compared to individuals who strive to maximize their personal gains. In times of competition, individuals who are less altruistic are seen as dominant and more appealing as leaders.

"Our findings show that people want respectable and admired group members to lead them at times of peace, but when 'the going gets tough' they want a dominant, power-seeking individual to lead the group," said Nir Halevy, lead author and acting assistant professor of organizational behavior at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Livingston and Halevy coauthored the research with Taya Cohen of Carnegie Mellon University's Tepper School of Business and PhD student Eileen Chou of Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management. Their study highlights the need to distinguish between different types of status in groups, as well as how intergroup conflict shapes followers' leadership preferences.

"There are numerous academic findings on status but we sought to investigate the antecedents and consequences of two distinct forms of status, depending on the context," said Livingston.

To test their theory, the researchers conducted three experiments where participants were given the option to keep an initial endowment for themselves or contribute it to a group pool. Contributions either only benefited the contributor's fellow group members, or simultaneously benefited the contributor's group members and harmed the members of another group.

The first two experiments found that selfishness and displays of 'out-group hate' — unnecessarily depriving the members of another group — boosted dominance but decreased respect and admiration from others. In contrast, showing in-group love — generously sharing resources with fellow group members — increased respect and admiration but decreased dominance.

The third experiment found that "universalism" — that is, sharing one's resources with both in-group members and outsiders — had the most dire net outcomes on a person's status. The researchers discovered that universal generosity decreased perceptions of both prestige and dominance compared with those who shared resources only with members of their group.

In short, being generous can boost prestige if an individual is selectively generous to his or her own group; this increases respect and admiration from others. However, being selfish or belligerent (unnecessarily harming members of another group) decreases respect and admiration from others but it increases perceptions of personal dominance.

The intriguing consequence is that dominant individuals were more likely than prestigious individuals to be elected as a representative for the group in a mock competition with another group. Thus, being too nice can have negative consequences for leadership.

"Being too generous often comes at a personal cost to one's position of strength or power," Livingston explained.

"This research begins to explore when 'nice guys' finish first and when they finish last, depending on the group context," Halevy said. "Nice guys don't make it to the top when their group needs a dominant leader to lead them at a time of conflict."

The study, "Status Conferral in Intergroup Social Dilemmas: Behavioral Antecedents and Consequences of Prestige and Dominance," will appear in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Thanks to Aaron Mays / Stanford Graduate School of Business
http://www.gsb.stanford.edu/news/research/halevy_nice_2011.html

 

How To Be A Good Boss In A Bad Economy

When cutbacks are necessary, can a good boss do right by the company's finances and by its staff? Some pain is probably unavoidable, but Stanford management science and engineering Professor Bob Sutton says that psychological and organization theory research suggests clear ways to handle such situations with a minimum of harm to the people and company involved. He makes that case in this month's issue of Harvard Business Review.

"The best bosses understand that there is a difference between what they do and how they do it," says Sutton, author of the 2007 New York Times bestseller on bad bosses, The No A**hole Rule. "This article is about evidence-based ways to make and implement tough decisions such as layoffs, pay cuts and the like in ways that protect both human dignity and organizational performance."

Bosses often mishandle the organizational psychology of recessions because they get caught in a Catch-22 of human nature that Sutton calls the "toxic tandem." Many researchers have shown that people in power tend to become somewhat oblivious to the needs of their subordinates, Sutton says, but subordinates usually watch their bosses intently for any sign of what's going on and typically assume the worst—and they watch their bosses even more closely during scary economic times. As bad as times may truly be, Sutton says, the toxic tandem magnifies fear and paranoia, which undermine morale and productivity.

In the article "How to Be a Good Boss in a Bad Economy," Sutton brings a number of sources together in concluding that good bosses are those who can look beyond their own needs and stresses, and attend to four of their employees' psychological needs: predictability, understanding, control, and compassion.

Four ways to be a good boss

Predictability: Studies of people and animals show that the ability to predict pain not only makes experiencing it much more bearable but also offers sufferers the ability to enjoy relative calm when they can be sure the pain isn't imminent. Bosses who can give employees definitive warning of when the ax will fall and when it won't can help make the process of making cutbacks less disruptive. In the article, Sutton presents as models managers who guaranteed to employees that no layoffs would be made "for at least three months'' or others who made deep cuts up front but with the guarantee there would be no more for at least six months.

Understanding: People are also much more able to tolerate adversity if they know why it is upon them, Sutton says. Bosses therefore probably cannot go too far in offering a sincere and informative explanation over and over again.

"Your job as boss is to design messages that will get through to people who are distracted, upset and apt to think negatively given any ambiguity," Sutton wrote for the journal's decidedly managerial audience.

Control: Few bosses are likely to give the rank and file control over cutbacks, but they can give employees some hope that their hard work to keep the company afloat will be successful. Citing the research of University of Michigan organizational theorist Karl Weick, Sutton advises bosses to engage employees in the process of breaking down the company's big-picture challenges into manageable parts. That exercise will help ensure that the work gets done, and will give employees a sense that they can have a positive impact on their situation.

Compassion: In the article, Sutton describes an Ohio State University study in which manufacturing employees who were treated callously by their boss during the process of closing their plant stole more from the company than workers at a nearly identical plant who were given a compassionate and detailed hearing by their boss during the same process. Respecting the dignity of those laid off, Sutton says, will help preserve the loyalty and productivity of the workers who stay.

Sutton emphasized that managing during rough times challenges even the most experienced bosses, but "the best find ways to preserve the dignity of everyone affected and look beyond the immediate crisis, often asking themselves, 'When I look back on what I did, will I be proud or ashamed?'"

Thanks to David Orenstein / Stanford University
http://news.stanford.edu/news/2009/june3/goodboss-060309.html?cmpid=hr
 
 
 

It’s Not About You

A couple of years ago, former General Electric CEO Jack Welch visited the Stanford Graduate School of Business to talk about leadership and his book, Winning. With about 800 people, we had a public conversation about managing. The best comment he made, I thought, was the simplest. It's something I believe and try to practice every day. Leadership is not about you. It's about the people who work for you.

"The day you become a leader, it becomes about them," Welch said. "Your job is to walk around with a can of water in one hand and a can of fertilizer in the other hand. Think of your team as seeds and try to build a garden. It's about building these people," he insisted. "Only you will know the team."

That's right. The minute you move from being a task-oriented professional to being a manager of people, it stops being about your individual talents, your successes, and starts being all about coaching, motivating, teaching, supporting, removing roadblocks, and finding resources for your employees. Leadership is about celebrating their victories and rewarding them; helping them analyze when things don't go to plan. Their successes become your successes. Their failures are yours too. Too many people today think leading is exclusively about their own performance. Even some of those who become CEOs, usually highly intelligent people who worked hard to get where they are, turn into self-aggrandizing individuals once they hit the executive suite.

Too many people, perhaps encouraged by the media, have developed an obsession with leaders. In his book on hierarchies, Top Down, Hal Leavitt covers a broad range of issues. Leavitt, who is the Kilpatrick Professor of Organizational Behavior emeritus at the Business School, surmises that part of today's infatuation with the leadership discussion springs from the fact that we perceive organizations have become flatter, when they are still hierarchies, though changed ones that are "participative" and "groupy." They have become harder to navigate with chains of command that are less clear. As a result, leadership qualities are more necessary for managers at every level, not just for those at the top of an authority pyramid.

Although it is difficult to find common characteristics among acknowledged leaders (What would Winston Churchill have in common with Mother Teresa?), Leavitt identifies three recurring themes of leadership: Transformation, persuasion, and competence. Leaders are able to transform or change a situation. They can influence others and motivate them to follow. They exude confidence and competence about what they are doing that inspires others. At the Business School, we have created a leadership development program that gives students experiences and coaching to help recognize and reinforce some of these qualities.

Of prime importance, in my view, is the notion that leadership is about change and a leader must leverage those who work for him or her, empower and support them with regular feedback, rewards, and exchange of ideas. Of course, sometimes leaders have to "weed the garden" in Welch's pithy vocabulary. The tough job of firing and hiring is part of creating an effective team.

One person, no matter how talented, cannot accomplish much in a managed organization of today's complexity and global reach. Transforming through others is the job of the leader at any level. Said Welch when he was here: "The day you become a leader, your job is to take people who are already great and make them unbelievable."

An earlier version of this essay appeared in Stanford Business alumni magazine.

Research by:- Robert Joss, Philip H. Knight Professor and Dean, Stanford Graduate School of Business

Thanks to Robert Joss & Philip H. Knight Professo / Stanford Graduate School of Business
http://www.gsb.stanford.edu/news/research/joss_you.html

 

First Selling The Idea To Senior Leaders Helps Organizations Realize Change

Getting all the senior leaders on board in advance is the most effective way to be successful in introducing change to an organization, according to research co-authored by Business School Professor Charles O'Reilly.

STANFORD GRADUATE SCHOOL OF BUSINESS—Getting all the senior leaders on board in advance is the most effective way to be successful in introducing change to an organization, according to research co-authored by Stanford Graduate School of Business Professor Charles O'Reilly.

The research found that when leaders across levels of an organization consistently support a particular change, the organization is likely to realize the performance benefits of the change more quickly and more completely than if less consistency exists.

"Effective change in organizations is illusive — most organizations fail to achieve the performance outcomes to which they aspired within an anticipated time frame, if ever," says Professor Jennifer Chatman one of the co-authors, from the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley. " Our research shows that effective change is less about the mechanics of the change — what new technology should be put in place, what procedures should be followed — and more about how committed leaders across all levels are to the change. We concluded that this suggests that CEO's would be wise to spend time ensuring that their leaders down the ranks are fully informed and committed before embarking on major change efforts."

The paper, How Leadership Matters: The effects of leaders' alignment on strategy implementation, is written by three organizational behavior professors including O'Reilly, Chatman, and Professor David Caldwell, Santa Clara University. Additional co-authors include William Self, a Haas PhD candidate, and Margaret Lapiz, vice-president of strategy and implementation, The Permanente Medical Group.

Researchers studied strategy implementation at Kaiser Permanente, a large health care organization with more than one million members, 3000 physicians, and 19 medical centers or clinics. Faced with increased competition, the organization established a new strategy focused on quality and service, rather than cost. The plan involved offering tangible resources such as a new scheduling system and redesigned call centers.

A second phase sought to improve the physician-patient relationship and communication. The overall measurement of success: improved patient satisfaction. The study used data from both physician and patient satisfaction surveys to measure how well the new strategy worked.

The strategy included improvements in staffing and appointment services to enable physicians to be more responsive to patient needs. It measured the strategy's effectiveness by assessing the leaders' ability to communicate to employees why patient satisfaction was critical to the organization's success — because it had not been a top priority in the past.

The results indicated that the more effective both the CEO and head of a department are perceived to be, the more physicians supported the change in strategy. Effectiveness was measured by how clearly the leader articulated a clear strategy, set a vision, provided measurable objectives, rewarded progress in the change effort, dealt with resistance, and motivated people to change.

Moreover, the data showed that leaders are more likely to be effective in getting employees to achieve organizational objectives — such as patient satisfaction — when they see leaders united in supporting the strategy, such as allocating resources, addressing any opposition or resistance, and convincing employees that the new initiative is important and in their best interest.

"When there was disagreement about the strategy, or leaders were seen as ineffective, performance was lower," wrote the authors.

Research by:- Charles A. O'Reilly, David F. Caldwell, Jennifer A. Chatman, Margaret Lapiz, William Self
 
Thanks to Charles A. O'Reilly, David F. Caldwell, Jennifer A. Chatman, Margaret Lapiz, William Self / Stanford Graduate School of Business
http://www.gsb.stanford.edu/news/research/oreilly_change_7_10.html
 
 

Eliminating Sales Quotas May Stimulate Profits

Eliminating sales quotas boosts company profits says Professor Harikesh Nair. In one case, the new sales compensation plan without quotas resulted in a 9% improvement in overall revenues, which translates to about $1 million of incremental revenues per month.

STANFORD GRADUATE SCHOOL OF BUSINESS —How do you pay your sales force in a way that motivates them to do the best job possible? The U.S. economy spends an estimated $800 billion annually compensating sales forces, almost three times the amount devoted to advertising, yet sales force compensation remains a troubling question.

Many firms offer bonuses for crossing certain sales thresholds, or meeting quotas. New research at Stanford Graduate School of Business, however, suggests that quotas may, in some situations, undercut profits. When one Fortune 500 company removed quotas, sales went up $1 million per month.

"The fundamental problem is that managers never know exactly how much time and effort their salespeople are putting into their work," says Harikesh Nair, an associate professor of marketing and one of the authors. "In the absence of such knowledge, they can only base payment on agents' output, not their input." Commissions, quotas, and bonuses based on performance are thus the typical staples of sales force compensation. Quotas, in particular, are believed to generate strong incentives by serving as targets or goals that encourage sales agents to work hard.

While commissions may spur effort in unequivocal ways, the quota carrot can sometimes result in agents gaming the system. "Those who have already made the quota in a current compensation cycle may have an incentive to postpone additional sales," says Nair. "Alternatively, those who perceive they have no chance of making the quota in the current cycle have a perverse incentive to postpone their effort to the next cycle."

In a recent paper, Nair and Sanjog Misra, an associate professor of marketing at the University of Rochester, develop finely specified mathematical models that describe the behavioral patterns of every sales agent employed by a Fortune 500 contact lens manufacturer. The mathematical models are based on a branch of economics named "agency theory," which specifies how output-based compensation schemes should be designed. The models enable them to simulate what sales would be if the features of the compensation contract were changed, and to quantify the cost to the firm of employees gaming the system.

They find that removing quotas enhances firm profit. In essence, eliminating quotas removes the inefficiency induced by gaming.

Nair and Misra then worked with company managers to formulate a new compensation scheme without the quota requirement. Implemented at the start of 2009, the new plan resulted in a 9% improvement in overall revenues, which translates to about $1 million of incremental revenues per month.

The new compensation plan also was extremely popular among the sales associates. "Most salespeople do not like quotas," says Nair.

Striking the quota system may not be the answer for every company, say the researchers. "What managers need to do is evaluate more carefully how the system is functioning for their own organization," Nair suggests. One approach is for firms to conduct mathematical analyses that formally consider the behavioral responses of sales people to aspects of the compensation scheme. Another, says Nair, is for managers simply to take a good look at their group's sales data over time to understand how output has varied when quotas or incentives changed. "That can give a company a good base by which to evaluate what can happen if they do change the compensation system," he notes.

The new study utilizes both approaches. The mathematical strategy used by Nair and Misra combines agency theory with a technique called "dynamic programming." Leveraging this framework in conjunction with the firm's historical sales data enables them to form a more complete picture of the efficacy of the compensation scheme. The study demonstrates that this type of approach can help significantly improve marketing decision making and firms' profitability.

"Firms now operate in an increasingly complex and data-rich environment. Those that understand how to harness the power of this data to cut through this complexity will enjoy a lasting competitive advantage," says Nair.

Thanks to Marguerite Rigoglioso / Stanford Graduate School of Business
http://www.gsb.stanford.edu/news/research/Nair_sales.html

 

The Thought Of Acquiring Power Motivates People To Act

STANFORD GRADUATE SCHOOL OF BUSINESS—In the wake of Barack Obama's "yes we can" victory, a timely study has emerged from the Stanford Graduate School of Business about what motivates people to take action. The prime mover, say researchers, is acquiring a position of power.

Specifically, it is people's new, more elevated perception of themselves after assuming a position with more power that inspires them to take more risks and pursue goals more confidently. Taking on a formal position of power—be it managerial, political, or cultural—gives people the illusion they have more control over their organization and their world, which, in turn, can propel them to go for the gusto. In the best-case scenarios, this can lead to achieving unimaginable accomplishments. In the worst, it can lead to poor decision making and devastating losses.

In one study, researchers stimulated thoughts of empowerment among a group of participants by having them describe in writing a time when they had power over others. Another group was asked to write about a time when they were not empowered. Researchers then measured participants' mindsets by asking them to predict the outcome of a roll of a die. Participants' choice either to roll the die themselves or have another person roll it for them served as an indicator as to whether they were feeling confident or not in the moment.

"When people feel they can control the outcome, they want to roll the die. It's a classic measure of the 'illusion of control,'" explains Nathanael Fast, a doctoral candidate in organizational behavior at the Graduate School of Business, who conducted the study with Deborah Gruenfeld, Moghadam Family Professor of Leadership and Organizational Behavior at the Business School; Niro Sivanathan of the London School of Business, and Adam Galinsky of Northwestern University. In this experiment, 100 percent of the "high power" group chose to roll the die themselves, as opposed to only 58 percent of the "low power" group. "This shows that power boosts people's sense of control over outcomes, even when the outcomes are based entirely on chance," Fast says.

In a second study, one group was assigned to the role of manager, another to the role of subordinate. All participants were told they would do a role play, but first they were asked to complete an unrelated activity that involved reading about an organization and rating how much control they thought they could have working in that organization, as well as how optimistic they were that the organization could do well.

Those designated as managers were significantly more optimistic about the organization in the material they read; they thought they would have more control over the organization's fate than those in the subordinate group. "People with a position of power believed they could control outcomes that stretched beyond their actual power," says Fast.

This finding may explain why CEOs sometimes make over-optimistic decisions, such as paying too much for mergers or acquisitions. "Because of the illusion of control that their role gives them, they may tend to overestimate how much influence they will have in turning such transactions into huge profits," Fast observes.

In a third study, participants were again primed by being asked to write about situations in which they had been either empowered or disempowered. They then took a self-esteem test and were asked questions such as whether they would vote in the next election, to what extent they thought their vote would affect the outcome, and how much influence they believed they had over the national economy.

Participants who were primed for power had much higher self-esteem scores and a much greater illusion of control than those primed for disempowerment. They were more likely to say they would vote and that their actions could have an impact on the world.

The investigators ruled out the argument that mood drives people to act. They found that "happiness" levels were similar regardless of which group they were in. "It's because power gives people a sense of control, not happiness, that it inspires more confident action taking," he said.

"One implication of this work is that powerful people shape our world not just because they have resources, but because they believe they can shape the world –– and therefore they try," says Fast. "People with low power mindsets do less than they otherwise could."

Because those who believe they are empowered are more active and productive, managers may want to create more confident employees by giving them a say in their organizations, he suggests. On the other side, leaders need to caution against over confidence. "When someone takes on an air of invincibility after being promoted to a more powerful position, the effects on an organization can be devastating," says Fast.

What is required, he suggests, is a system that ensures critical thought. "Research shows that carefully evaluating the pros and cons of a decision tends to reduce the illusion of control," he says. Instituting mechanisms that require deliberation is the key to preventing snap decisions by CEOs with little time and big egos.

Thanks to Marguerite Rigoglioso / Stanford Graduate School of Business
http://www.gsb.stanford.edu/news/research/fastpower_gruenfeld.html

 

It Really IS The Thought That Counts

STANFORD GRADUATE SCHOOL OF BUSINESS—'Tis the season, and if you're like most people you'll probably end up dropping a heftier sum of cash than you're comfortable with on presents for loved ones and colleagues. The findings of a recent study, however, might encourage you to think twice about what you really need to spend.

Two investigators from the Stanford Graduate School of Business have found that when it comes to putting out money for gifts, less may well be more. In several studies, they discovered that although most gift givers assume that a more expensive present will be more appreciated, receivers don't appreciate expensive gifts that much more. In fact, the old aphorism still holds true: money can't buy you love.

In one study, researchers looked at one of the most common large-ticket items purchased year-round: the engagement ring. Surveying recently engaged couples online, they found that, on a scale of one to seven, men consistently thought their rings were more appreciated by their fiancées the more expensive they were. Fiancées themselves, however, did not rate themselves as any more appreciative if the rings were more costly.

"This shows that men shouldn't feel bad if they can't afford to buy the ring they really want," says Frank Flynn, associate professor of organizational behavior at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and a co-researcher on the study. "The fact that the thought counts more than the price tag is important for people to realize, especially in these challenging economic times when people are really strapped for cash."

In a second study, Flynn and an associate asked a nationwide sample of participants to think about a recent birthday gift they had either given or received. Participants described a variety of gifts, including t-shirts, CDs, jewelry, wine, books, and home décor items. Again, those who were givers expected that more expensive gifts would make the recipients feel significantly higher levels of appreciation. In contrast, the recipients said they did not feel greater appreciation levels for gifts that had cost more.

"You simply don't have to spend that extra hundred dollars to get the same level of appreciation for a gift," observes co-researcher Gabrielle Adams, a doctoral student in organizational behavior at the Business School. In fact, say the investigators, givers are likely to spend $100 to buy a gift that receivers would only spend $80 to purchase for themselves. Economists call the excess $20 "deadweight loss"—money consumers could have better spent in other ways.

In Flynn and Adams's third study, participants were asked to think about giving or receiving either a CD or an iPod as a graduation present. Once again, those who were randomly assigned to be "givers" thought by giving the more expensive iPod their present would be appreciated more in contrast to the CD. The "receivers" rated no difference in appreciation levels, regardless of which item they were told to think about getting.

The same attitudes that we show towards gifts wrapped with a bow can be seen in the business arena. Flynn and Adams say companies do not necessarily have to go overboard in rewarding employees for a job well done. "In the dot com boom, you heard about excesses such as organizations rolling out Harley Davidsons as Christmas gifts for staff," Flynn says. "The recognition that's conveyed through smaller gestures, perhaps done more frequently, is just as meaningful, if not more so, than large, splashy gifts."

And on the home front, the research shows that people need not feel guilty about putting spending caps on their holiday gift budgets—which should be a welcome balm in these financially troubled times. "The people for whom your gifts are destined won't necessarily know you were weighing and measuring items with different prices," Adams says. "They'll more than likely just be happy to get any gift at all."

Thanks to Marguerite Rigoglioso / Stanford Graduate School of Business
http://www.gsb.stanford.edu/news/research/flynn_giftstudy.html

 

People In The Minority May Know Themselves Better

One benefit of knowing you're in the minority is a clearer sense of self, says marketing Professor S. Christian Wheeler. Business organizations, which have been shown to improve their decision making when diverse ideas are present, may therefore want to think about more structured ways for encouraging naysayers to speak up.

STANFORD GRADUATE SCHOOL OF BUSINESS--Being in the minority on any issue can mean facing potential hostility, ostracism, or even punishment. Yet some people not only hold minority opinions, but also actually seek them out. Why is that?

New research from the Stanford Graduate School of Business finds that one benefit of knowing you're in the minority is a clearer sense of self. Business organizations, which have been shown to improve their decision making through the presence of diverse ideas, may therefore want to think about more structured ways for encouraging naysayers to speak up.

In the first of three related studies, those who thought they held a minority view scored significantly higher on a questionnaire that measured their sense of "self-concept clarity" -- that is, their sense of self-identity. Participants were asked whether they favored the death penalty in murder cases. They were then given fictitious data about other people's opinions on the matter, and were randomly told they were either in the majority or the minority. People with strong self-concept clarity agreed more strongly with questions in the follow-up survey such as "I have a clear sense of who I am," while those with less clear self images agreed more with statements such as "My beliefs about myself change very frequently."

"People often establish their identities by the opinions they hold, and minority opinions can be particularly efficacious in this regard. Minority opinions can provide people an especially clear sense of who they are," says Christian Wheeler, associate professor of marketing at Stanford Graduate School of Business and coauthor of the study with Kimberly Rios Morrison of Ohio State University.

A second study showed that the effect is strong particularly when the issue at hand is at the core of an individual's values. When asked their views on affirmative action, participants who were told they were in the minority and who believed their opinion to be very representative of their personal values were especially likely to report having a clear definition of self. "After learning they were in the minority on something that was very value-relevant to them, they subsequently became more certain of who they were," says Wheeler.

A third study found that people who believed they held a minority opinion in a group that was personally important also demonstrated higher self-concept clarity than those who believed they were part of the majority. The more closely the individuals identified with the group, the greater the likelihood that being told they held a minority opinion would result in high scores on the self-concept clarity survey. "The more central the group was to the participants, the more their minority status boosted their self-concept clarity. Holding opinions that place one in the minority in an important group may help people simultaneously satisfy needs for belonging and distinctiveness," suggests Wheeler.

In addition to showing why people may be motivated to hold minority opinions, other research by Wheeler and Morrison examines what might motivate people to express such opinions. Interestingly, they find that individuals are more likely to speak up when they have a sense of doubt about their views. "They try to repair their sense of self-doubt by expressing their minority opinions more frequently and forcefully," Wheeler reports.

Because organizations have been shown to make better decisions when they allow a range of views to be expressed, they may benefit by creating environments in which employees are challenged slightly and thereby feel stimulated to express what they're thinking, say the researchers. "This could help prevent the kind of group think that can be the death of any organization," concludes Wheeler.

Thanks to Marguerite Rigoglioso / Stanford Graduate School of Business
http://www.gsb.stanford.edu/news/research/wheeler_nonconformity.html

 

Temper Your Trust To Avoid Financial Rip-Offs

Trust may be "the all-powerful lubricant that keeps the economic wheels turning," but Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme is just the latest example of the catastrophes that can result when those economic wheels turn too smoothly, according to Stanford Business School Professor Roderick M. Kramer.

Kramer, the William R. Kimball Professor of Organizational Behavior, is a social psychologist who has been studying trust for more than 20 years. He drew on his own and others' research for an article in the June 2009 issue of Harvard Business Review on why people trust, why trust can get us into trouble, and what we can do to protect ourselves.

"What surprised me was the level of abuse of trust throughout the financial industries: its magnitude, its pervasiveness, and its duration," Kramer said.

Trust tends to be cyclical: When oversight systems seem to be working, people become less vigilant. "We don't want to spend a lot of money to catch what we think are rare incidents of abuse," he said. Then a crisis occurs, and "suddenly there's an outcry and people are willing to pay more and be more vigilant. Complacency is one of the dynamics that perpetuates periodic trust failures."

When people are too trusting, they can become victims. But people who are too distrusting may cut themselves off from beneficial relationships, Kramer said. "It's a really tricky thing to get right."

"Tempered trust," he suggests, is a way to continue trusting -- but with prudent checks that could stop the next Madoff-like scheme.

Humans are born trusting -- we have to be, since we are completely dependent on caregivers early in life.

"In many ways, trust is our default position," Kramer wrote. "The tendency to trust made sense in our evolutionary history." But while trust has helped humans survive as a species, individuals often make mistakes about whom to trust.

One reason is what psychologists call "confirmation bias." We give more weight to evidence that supports what we already think and ignore information that contradicts it. Also, people's judgments about whom to trust are influenced by subconscious stereotypes about other people's trustworthiness, which can cause us to trust even when we shouldn't.

Even if people understand that it's possible to be duped, they don't believe it will happen to them. When he has taught negotiation and power to MBAs, Kramer writes, 77% of his students estimate that they are in the top 25% of their class in their ability to judge how trustworthy and honest other people are.

More generally, people tend to underestimate the chances of something bad happening to them and overestimate the chances of something good happening.

Mistaken judgments can extend to third parties who "lull people into a false sense of security." Kramer cites Madoff's cultivation of victims from the tight-knit Orthodox Jewish community. "At the GSB," he adds, "students are taught how great networks are, but they should realize networks can be webs that ensnare people too."

Kramer identifies seven steps people can take to trust more prudently.

  1. Know yourself. Some people are overly trusting; others tend to assume the worst about others. Figure out which category you fall into so you know what to work on.
  2. Start small. "Trust entails risk. There's no way to avoid that," Kramer wrote. But you'll minimize the risk if you begin a relationship by taking small risks. This lets you assess the other person's trustworthiness while sending signals that you are interested in a mutually trusting relationship.
  3. Write an escape clause. If both you and the other party know that you have a backup plan, you'll be able to engage with more commitment, knowing that the system is set up to withstand "the occasional, unavoidable mistakes that permeate any complex organization or social system."
  4. Send strong signals. If others see that you are diligent, it will deter potential predators, who are looking for easy victims.
  5. Recognize the other person's dilemma. To build trust, you have to put yourself in the other party's shoes and reassure him that you are trustworthy. "A lot of leaders don't realize that they should be doing more to communicate the importance of trust and the fact that they are trustworthy themselves," Kramer said.
  6. Look at roles as well as people. "Deep trust in a role … can be a substitute for personal experience with an individual," Kramer wrote. We trust engineers, for example, because of their training.
  7. Remain vigilant and always question. Many of Madoff's victims did their due diligence before investing their money with him initially. "But once they'd made their decision, their attention turned elsewhere," Kramer wrote. Questioning people we have already decided to trust is uncomfortable but essential in cases where the stakes are high.

If everyone practiced this "tempered trust," would the species still gain the benefits of trust while individuals would be more protected? Kramer thinks so: "Tempered trust increases the chances we will reap the benefits of trust when interacting with trustworthy people and minimizes the damage from violated or abused trust when we happen to be dealing with someone who is untrustworthy. This principle holds for both individual-level and collective-level transactions."

Thanks to Margaret Steen / Stanford Graduate School of Business
http://www.gsb.stanford.edu/news/bmag/sbsm0911/kn-ripoffs.html