The Advantage

A few years ago, I read The Five Dysfunctions of a Team and it remains to be, for me, one of the most practical and applicable management books. Patrick Lencioni, the author of that book, has published a number of other books which have received high reviews as well, and I decided to read one of his more recent ones The Advantage – Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business.

The main premise of this book is that:

The single greatest advantage any company can achieve is organizational health. Yet it is ignored by most leaders even though it is simply free, and available to anyone who wants it.

Sounds simple, so why is it that difficult?

But before leaders can tap into the power of organizational health, they must humble themselves enough to overcome the three biases that prevent them from embracing it. The Sophistication Bias: Organizational health is so simple and accessible that many leaders have a hard time seeing it as a real opportunity for meaningful advantage…The Adrenaline Bias: Becoming a healthy organization takes a little time. Unfortunately, many of the leaders I’ve worked with suffer from a chronic case of adrenaline addiction, seemingly hooked on the daily rush of activity and firefighting within their organizations…The Quantification Bias: The benefits of becoming a healthy organization, as powerful as they are, are difficult to accurately quantify.

What exactly is organizational health and how do I recognize it?

A good way to recognize health is to look for the signs that indicate an organization has it. These include minimal politics and confusion, high degrees of morale and productivity, and very low turnover among good employees…And so a good way to look at organizational health -and one that executives seem to respond to readily— is to see it as the multiplier of intelligence. The healthier an organization is, the more of its intelligence it is able to tap into and use. Most organizations exploit only a fraction of the knowledge. experience, and intellectual capital that is available to them. But the healthy ones tap into almost all of it. That, as much as anything else, is why they have such an advantage over their unhealthy competitors.

How do we create it, or get there?

An organization doesn’t become healthy in a linear, tidy fashion. Like building a strong marriage or family, it’s a messy process that involves doing a few things at once, and it must be maintained on an ongoing basis in order to be preserved. Still, that messy process can be broken down into four simple disciplines: Discipline 1: Build a cohesive leadership team…Discipline 2: Create Clarity…Discipline 3…Overcommunicate Clarity…Discipline 4: Reinforce Clarity.

On the first discipline – building a leadership team, let us start with the fundamentals, with the definition:

A leadership team is a small group of people who are collectively responsible for achieving a common objective for their organization…This is perhaps the most important distinction between a working group and a real leadership team. Collective responsibility implies, more than anything else, selflessness and shared sacrifices from team members.

What are the key behaviors of a leadership team:

On building trust:

Members of a truly cohesive team must trust one another. I realize that sounds like the most patently obvious statement ever made, something that every organization understands and values. As a result, you’d think that most leadership teams would be pretty good at building trust. As it turns out, they aren’t, and I think a big part of it is that they have the wrong idea about what trust is…The kind of trust that is necessary to build a great team is what I call vulnerability-based trust. This is what happens when members get to a point where they are completely comfortable being transparent. honest, and naked with one another, where they say and genuinely mean things like “I screwed up,” “I need help,” “Your idea is better than mine,” ‘T wish I could learn to do that as well as you do,” and even, “I’m sorry”…Trust is just one of five behaviors that cohesive teams must establish to build a healthy organization. However, it is by far the most important of the five because it is the foundation for the others. Simply stated, it makes teamwork possible. Only when teams build vulnerability-based trust do they put themselves in a position to embrace the other four behaviors, the next of which is the mastery of conflict.

On mastering conflict:

Contrary to popular wisdom and behavior, conflict is not a bad thing for a team. In fact, the fear of conflict is almost always a sign of problems. Of course, the kind of conflict I’m referring to here is not the nasty kind that centers around people or personalities. Rather, it is what I call productive ideological conflict, the willingness to disagree, even passionately when necessary, around important issues and decisions that must be made. But this can only happen when there is trust…When leadership team members fail to disagree around issues, not only are they increasing the likelihood of losing respect for one another and encountering destructive conflict later when people start griping in the hallways, they’re also making bad decisions and letting down the people they’re supposed to be serving. And they do this all in the name of being “nice.”

On achieving commitment:

The reason that conflict is so important is that a team cannot achieve commitment without it. People will not actively commit to a decision if they have not had the opportunity to provide input, ask questions, and understand the rationale behind it. Another way to say this is, “If people don’t weigh in, they can’t buy in.”

On embracing accountability:

Even well-intentioned members of a team need to be held accountable if a team is going to stick to its decisions and accomplish its goals. In some cases, people will deviate from a plan or a decision knowingly, tempted to do something that is in their individual best interest but not that of the team. In other cases, people will stray without realizing it, getting distracted or caught up in the pushes and pulls of daily work. In either case, it’s the job of the team to call those people out and keep them in line…At its core, accountability is about having the courage to confront someone about their deficiencies and then to stand in the moment and deal with their reaction, which may not be pleasant. It is a selfless act, one rooted in a word that I don’t use lightly in a business book: love. To hold someone accountable is to care about them enough to risk having them blame you for pointing out their deficiencies.

On focusing on results:

The ultimate point of building greater trust, conflict, commitment, and accountability is one thing: the achievement of results. That certainly seems obvious, but as it turns out, one of the greatest challenges to team success is the inattention to results. What would members of an executive team be focused on if not the results of their organization? Well, for one, the results of their department. Too many leaders seem to have a greater affinity for and loyalty to the department they lead rather than the team they’re a member of and the organization they are supposed to be collectively serving. Other distractions include a concern for individual career development, budget allocations, status, and ego, all of them common distractions that prevent teams from being obsessed with achieving results…The only way for a team to really be a team and to maximize its output is to ensure that everyone is focused on the same priorities— rowing in the same direction, if you will.

The second discipline is about Creating Clarity:

The second requirement for building a healthy organization—creating clarity—is all about achieving alignment. This is a word that is used incessantly by leaders, consultants, and organizational theorists, and yet for all the attention it gets, real alignment remains frustratingly rare. Most executives who run organizations—and certainly the employees who work for them—will readily this.

This is done by answering six fundamental questions:

1. Why do we exist? 2. How do we behave? 3. What do we do? 4. How will we succeed? 5. What is most important, right now? 6. Who must do what?

On what do we do:

If an organization’s reason for existence answers the Question, Why?, then its business definition answers the question. What? It’s critical that it be clear and straightforward. It should not be crafted so that it also be used in marketing material. The point is just to make sure that the leadership team is crystal clear about, and can accurately describe, the nature of the organization’s business so that they don’t create confusion within the rest of the company or, for that matter, in the market. It’s as simple as that.

On how we will succeed:

We came to realize that the best way for an organization to make strategy practical is to boil it down to three strategic anchors that will be used to inform every decision the organization makes and provide the filter or lens through which decisions must be evaluated to ensure consistency. Strategic anchors provide the context for all decision making and help companies avoid the temptation to make purely pragmatic and opportunistic decisions that so often end up diminishing a company’s plan for success.

On who must do that:

There is not a great deal to be said about this particular question, aside from warning leadership teams not to take it for granted. Although there is often clarity among executives in most organizations about who does what on the team, making assumptions about that clarity can lead to surprising and unnecessary problems.

The third discipline is Overcommunicating Clarity:

What those leaders fail to realize is that employees understand the need for repetition. They know that messaging is not so much an Intellectual process as an emotional one. Employees are not analyzing what leaders are saying based solely on whether it is intellectually novel or compelling, but more than anything else on whether they believe the leaders are serious, authentic, and committed to what they are saying. Again, that means repetition is a must.

The fourth and last discipline is Reinforcing Clarity:

As important as overcommunication is, leaders of a healthy organization cannot always be around to remind employees about the company’s reason for existing, its values, and so on. In order to ensure that the answers to the six critical questions become embedded in the fabric of the organization, leaders must do everything they can to reinforce them structurally as well. The way to do that is to make sure that every human system every process that involves people—from hiring and people management to training and compensation, is designed to reinforce the answers to those questions. The challenge is to do this without adding too much structure.

A concluding reminder that success in creating healthy organization rests on the leaders of the organization:

There is just no escaping the fact that the single biggest factor determining whether an organization is going to get healthier—or not—is the genuine commitment and active involvement of the person in charge. For a company, that’s the CEO. For a small business, it’s the owner. For a school, it’s the principal. For a church, it’s the pastor. For a department within a company, it’s the department head. At every step in the process, the leader must be out front, not as a cheerleader or a figurehead, but as an active, tenacious driver.

While there is a considerable effort involved, there is also a substantial reward:

At the end of the day, at the end of our careers, when we look back at the many initiatives that we poured ourselves into, few other activities will seem more worthy of our effort and more impactful on the lives of others, than making our organizations healthy.

A recommended read in the area of organizational leadership and management. If you have not read The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, I highly recommend you read that one first.


On Decisive

I am a big fan of the Heath brothers, having read their previous bestsellers Switch and Made To Stick. I was excited to read their latest book Decisive, How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work, not only because they had written it but because decision making itself was a subject area of particular interest to me. This book exceed my high expectations both in terms of content and delivery.

The Heath brothers begin by reminding us why decision making is difficult:

And that, in essence, is the core difficulty of decision making: What’s in the spotlight will rarely be everything we need to make a good decision, but we won’t always remember to shift the light. Sometimes, in fact, we’ll forget there’s a spotlight at all, dwelling so long in the tiny circle of light that we forget there’s a broader landscape beyond it.

And while we instinctively think that more analysis should lead to superior decision making, it is actually the process we use to come up with the decision that is more important:

When the researchers compared whether process or analysis was more important in producing good decisions—those that increased revenues, profits, and market share—they found that “process mattered more than analysis—by a factor of six.” Often a good process led to better analysis—for instance, by ferreting out faulty logic. But the reverse was not true: “Superb analysis is useless unless the decision process gives it a fair hearing.”

So why is decision making so difficult and what is the key to improving our capability? It is about understanding the underlying set of biases:

Research in psychology over the last 40 years has identified a set of biases in our thinking that doom the pros-and-cons model of decision making. If we aspire to make better choices, then we must learn how these biases work and how to fight them (with something more potent than a list of pros and cons).

How does the normal decision process flow, and what are the challenges within each step:

If you think about a normal decision process, it usually proceeds in four steps…And what we’ve seen is that there is a villain that afflicts each of these stages:

-You encounter a choice. But narrow framing makes you miss options.

-You analyze your options. But the confirmation bias leads you to gather self-serving information.

-You make a choice. But short-term emotion will often tempt you to make the wrong one.

-Then you live with it. But you’ll often be overconfident about how the future will unfold.

And while we can’t eliminate these biases, we can counteract them:

We can’t deactivate our biases, but these people show us that we can counteract them with the right discipline. The nature of each villain suggests a strategy for defeating it:

  1. You encounter a choice. But narrow framing makes you miss options So…Widen Your Options. How can you expand your set of choices?
  2. You analyze your options. But the confirmation bias leads you to gather self-sensing info So…Reality-Test Your Assumptions. How can you get outside your head and collect information that you can trust?..
  3. You make a choice. But short-term emotion will often tempt you to make the wrong one. So…Attain Distance Before Deciding. How can you overcome short-term emotion and conflicted feelings to make the best choice?…
  4. Then you live with it. But you’ll often be overconfident about how the future Will unfold So…Prepare to Be Wrong. How can we plan for an uncertain future so that we give our decisions the best chance to succeed?

This is the WRAP process for decision making which is at the heart of this book:

Our goal in this book is to teach this four-step process for making better choices. Note the mnemonic WRAP, which captures the four verbs. We like the notion of a process that “wraps” around your usual way of making decisions, helping to protect you from some of the biases we’ve identified. The four steps in the WRAP model are sequential; in general, you can follow them in order—but not rigidly so. Sometimes you’ll double back based on something you’ve learned.

Why is a process needed?

To get that kind of consistent improvement requires technique and practice. It requires a process. The value of the WRAP process is that it reliably focuses our attention on things we otherwise might have missed: options we might have overlooked, information we might have resisted, and preparations we might have neglected.

1- Widen Your Options

On avoiding a narrow frame:

Focusing is great for analyzing alternatives but terrible for spotting them. Think about the visual analogy—when we focus we sacrifice peripheral vision. And there’s no natural corrective for this; life won’t interrupt our focus to draw our attention to all of our options.

On multitracking:

In a study of top leadership teams in Silicon Valley, an environment that tends to place a premium on speed, she found that executives who weigh more options actually make faster decisions. It’s a counterintuitive finding, but Eisenhardt offers three explanations. First, comparing alternatives helps executives to understand the “landscape”: what’s possible and what’s not, what variables are involved. That understanding provides the confidence needed to make a quick decision. Second, considering multiple alternatives seems to undercut politics. With more options, people get less invested in any one of them, freeing them up to change positions as they learn. As with the banner-ad study, multitracking seems to help keep egos under control. Third, when leaders weigh multiple options, they’ve given themselves a built-in fallback plan.

An important element of multitracking is our mindset:

How you react to the position, in short, depends a great deal on your mindset at the time it’s offered. Psychologists have identified two contrasting mindsets that affect our motivation and our receptiveness to new opportunities: a “prevention focus,” which orients us toward avoiding negative outcomes, and a “promotion focus,” which orients us toward pursuing positive outcomes.

Another method of widening options, is finding someone else who’s solved your problem:

To break out of a narrow frame, we need options, and one of the most basic ways to generate new options is to find someone else who’s solved your problem…Notice the slow, brute-force approach that had to be used by the lab that didn’t use analogies. When you use analogies—when you find someone who has solved your problem—you can take your pick from the world’s buffet of solutions. But when you don’t bother to look, you’ve got to cook up the answer yourself every time. That may be possible, but it’s not wise, and it certainly ain’t speedy.

2- Reality-Test Your Assumption

On considering the opposite as a way to further test our assumption:

The most important lesson to learn about devil’s advocacy isn’t the need for a formal contrarian position; it’s the need to interpret criticism as a noble function. An effective promoter fidei is not a token argumentative smarty-pants; it’s someone who deeply respects the Catholic Church and is trying to defend the faith by surfacing contrary arguments in situations where skepticism is unlikely to surface naturally.

Questioning can be an effective tool to that effect:

Roger Martin Says “What would have to be true?” question has become the most important ingredient of his strategy work, and it’s not hard to see why. The search for disconfirming information might seem, on the surface, like a thoroughly negative process: We try to poke holes in our own arguments or the arguments of others. But Martin’s question adds something constructive: What if our least favorite option were actually the best one’ What data might convince us of that?

Other methods include:

1. Confirmation bias = hunting for information that confirms our initial assumptions (which are often self-serving).

2. We need to spark constructive disagreement within our organizations.

3. To gather more trustworthy information, we can ask disconfirming questions.

4. Caution: Probing questions can backfire in situations with a power dynamic.

5. Extreme disconfirmation: Can we force ourselves to consider the opposite of our instincts?

6. can even test our assumptions with a deliberate mistake.

7. Because we naturally seek self-confirming information, we need discipline to consider the opposite.

On Zooming in and out, and the importance of perspectives to further test assumptions:

Psychologists distinguish between the “inside view” and “outside view” of a situation. The inside view draws from information that is in our spotlight as we consider a decision—our own impressions and assessments of the situation we’re in. The outside view, by contrast, ignores the particulars and instead analyzes the larger class it’s part of…The outside view is more accurate—it’s a summary of real-world experiences, rather than a single person’s impressions—yet we’ll be drawn to the inside view.

The point is that the predictions of even a world-class expert need to be discounted in a way that their knowledge of base rates does not. In short. when you need trustworthy information, go find an expert—someone more experienced than you. Just keep them talking about the past and the present, not the future.

When we zoom out, we take the outside view, learning from the experiences of others who have made choices like the one we’re facing. When we zoom in, we take a close-up of the situation, looking for “color” that could inform our decision. Either strategy is helpful, and either one will add insight in a way that conference-room pontificating rarely will. When possible, we should do both. In interpreting the sentiments of Americans, FDR created statistical summaries and read a sample of real letters. In assessing the competitors’ products, Paul Smith’s colleagues relied on scientific data and personal experience. In making a high-stakes health decision, Brian Zikmund-Fisher trusted both the base rates and the stories of actual patients. Zooming out and zooming in gives us a more realistic perspective on our choices. We downplay the overly optimistic pictures we tend to paint inside our minds and instead redirect our attention to the outside world, viewing it in wide-angle and then in close-up.

On the importance of ooching/piloting:

The “ooching” terminology is our favorite, but we wanted to be clear that these groups are all basically saying the same thing: Dip a toe in before you plunge in headfirst. Given the popularity of this concept, and given the clear payoff involved—little bets that can improve large decisions—you might wonder why ooching isn’t more instinctive. The answer is that we tend to be awfully confident about our ability to predict the future.

Which also comes with a warning:

Ooching, in short, should be used as a way to speed up the collection of trustworthy information, not as a way to slow down a decision that deserves our full commitment.

3- Attain Distance Before Deciding

On overcoming short-term emotions, use the technique of giving advice to a friend:

The researchers have found, in essence, that our advice to others tends to hinge on the single most important factor, while our own thinking flits among many variables. When we think of our friends, we see the forest. When we think of ourselves, we get stuck in the trees. There’s another advantage of the advice we give others. We tend to be wise about counseling people to overlook short-term emotions.

On the importance of honoring your core priorities:

The goal of the WRAP process is not to neutralize emotion. Quite the contrary. When you strip away all the rational mechanics of decision making—the generation of options, the weighing of information—what’s left at the core is emotion. What drives you? What kind of person do you aspire to be? What do you believe is best for your family in the long run? (Business leaders ask: What kind of organization do you aspire to run? What’s best for your team in the long run?) Those are emotional questions—speaking to passions and values and beliefs—and when you answer them, there’s no “rational machine” underneath that is generating your perspective. It’s just who you are and what you want. The buck stops with emotion…All we can aspire to do with the WRAP process is help you make decisions that are good for you.

Maybe this advice sounds too commonsensical: Define and enshrine your core priorities. It is not exactly a radical stance. But there are two reasons why it’s uncommon to find people who have actually acted on this seemingly basic advice. First, people rarely establish their priorities until they’re forced to…Second, establishing priorities is not the same thing as binding yourself to them.

4- Prepare To Be Wrong

On bookend-ing the future:

Overconfidence about the future disrupts our decisions. It make us lackadaisical about preparing for problems. It tempts us to ignore early signs of failure. It leaves us unprepared for pleasant surprises. Fighting overconfidence means we’ve got to treat the future as a spectrum, not a point…To bookend the future means that we must sweep our spotlights from side to side, charting out the full territory of possibilities. Then we can stack the deck in our favor by preparing for both bad situations (via a premortem) and good (via a preparade).

On the importance of setting up tripwires to trigger decisions based on gradual changes:

Because day-to-day change is gradual, even imperceptible, it’s hard to know when to jump. Tripwires tell you when to jump. Setting tripwires would not have guaranteed that Kodak’s leaders made the right decisions. Sometimes even a clear alarm is willfully ignored. (We’ve probably all ignored a fire alarm, trusting that it is false.) But tripwires at least ensure that we are aware it’s time to make a decision, that we don’t miss our chance to choose because we’ve been lulled into autopilot.

On the importance of trusting the decision making process

The WRAP process, if used routinely, will contribute to that sense of fairness, because it allows people to understand how the decision is being made, and it gives them comfort that decisions will be made in a consistent manner. Beyond WRAP, there are a few additional ideas to consider as you navigate group decisions.


On a concluding note:

What a process provides, though, is more inspiring: confidence. Not cocky overconfidence that comes from collecting biased information and ignoring uncertainties, but the real confidence that comes from knowing you’ve made the best decision that you could. Using a process for decision making doesn’t mean that your choices will always be easy, or that they will always turn out brilliantly, but it does mean you can quiet your mind. You can quit asking, “What am I missing?” You can stop the cycle of agonizing.

Just as important, trusting the process can give you the confidence to take risks. A process can be the equivalent of a mountain climber’s harness and rope, allowing you the freedom to explore without constant worry. A process, far from being a drag or a constraint, can it actually give you the comfort to be bolder.

And bolder is often the right direction. Short-run emotion, as we’ve seen, makes the status quo seductive. But when researchers ask the elderly what they regret about their lives, they don’t often regret something they did, they regret things they didn’t do. They regret not seizing opportunities. They regret hesitating. They regret being indecisive.

Being decisive is itself a choice. Decisiveness is a way of behaving, not an inherited trait. It allows us to make brave and confident choices, not because we know we’ll be right but because it’s better to try and fail than to delay and regret.

Our decisions will never be perfect, but they can be better. Bolder. Wiser. The right process can steer us toward the right choice. And the right choice, at the right moment, can make all the difference.

A highly recommended read in the area of decision making. If you are interested in further readings in this topic, I would suggest an earlier post, On Left Brain Right Stuff.

On Liberating the Corporate Soul

I recently finished reading Liberating The Corporate Soul – Building a Visionary Organization – by Richard Barrett.

Below are key excerpts from the books that I found particularly insightful:

1- “I started out with two ideas. The first idea was that organizational transformation must look and feel a lot like personal transformation. The second idea was that the values held by successful companies must be similar to the values held by successful individuals. These two ideas led me on a journey of discovery that gladdened my heart. I not only found these two theses to be correct but also found underneath the tough rhetoric of Wall Street a small but growing number of successful businesses that live by values that are concordant with the highest moral and ethical principles. This book celebrates their success and provides a road map and tools for those who want to travel the same path.”

2- “Corporate transformation begins with a shift in the values and behaviors of the leadership. Corporations don’t transform. People do. Corporate transformation is fundamentally about personal transformation. It will happen only if there is a willingness on the part of the leader and all those in authority to live according to values that are less focused on self-interest and more focused on the common good. For transformation to be success^l the espoused values and behaviors must become pervasive throughout the organization.”

3- “The key characteristics of long-lasting companies that have superior financial performance are summarized as follows. A strong, positive, values-driven culture A lasting commitment to learning and self-renewal continual adaptation based on feedback from internal and external environments Strategic alliances with internal and external partners, customers, and suppliers A willingness to take risks and experiment A balanced, values-based approach to measuring performance.”

4- “The basic reason why companies find it difficult to develop these characteristics is that they operate from the mental model of the organization as a machine. More and more organizations are making the transition to the mental model of a machine with a mind, but very few have made it to the model of the organization as a living entity. Consequently, most companies seek only to satisfy their physical and emotional needs.”

5- “Self-interest and the single-minded pursuit of accumulation of wealth are at the heart of our current crisis. Fueled by greed, businesses all over the world are engaged in the wholesale exploitation of the Earth and its people. What is extraordinary is lat they are doing it in collusion with society.”

6- “There are millions of people around the world embracing this new responsibility. They are turning from “What’s in it for me?” as their unconscious world view, to consciously embracing “What’s best for the common good?” Many of these people are business leaders. Companies around the world are beginning to recognize that their future is intimately linked to peace, prosperity for all, and environmental stewardship.”

7- “Our proficiency in expressing our creativity falls off as e accept other’s opinions and evaluations of what is good and )ad, right and wrong. Our education systems have much to answer in this arena.”

8- “The pathway to creativity begins with employee participation. T\ere are five stages to participation—invitation, engagement. reflection, listening, and implementation. When an organization attempts participation for the first time, it needs to take care to complete all the steps. At the beginning, it is important to i let all employees know that they are being invited to share their ideas and that their opinions are important. The engagement begins when employees are presented with information about he situation at hand and have the opportunity to ask questions”

9- “The challenge for leaders is to build an organizational culture that maximizes the development of human potential and strategic alliances while working within the framework of acceptable values and behaviors that relate to the type of activity, the dominant professional discipline, and the mores of the local community.”

10- “Companies that operate with values that support the common good are able to maintain morale, commitment, and loyalty even during difficult times. When staff reductions are necessary because of a downturn in sales, companies that operate from the higher levels of consciousness explore ways to share the burden. If this doesn’t work, layoffs are handled with compassion and caring.”

11- “When an organization moves from being profit-driven to being values-driven, it does not mean that it suddenly regards profit as unimportant. On the contrary. Profit remains a fundamental objective. In values-driven organizations the profit motive is contained within an overarching ethical framework. Limits are drawn as to what the organization will and will not do to make an extra dollar.”

12- “I would submit therefore that it is not the sharing of an organizational mission or vision that creates cohesion, but the creation of opportunities within the organizational mission for every individual find work that corresponds to his or her personal mission or vision.”

13- “The first three categories of the Balanced Need Scorecard represent the primary needs of an organization: Corporate Survival—profits, finance, and funding; Corporate Fitness— productivity, quality, and efficiency; and Customer/Supplier Relations—sales, service, and product excellence…’The next three categories support these front-line needs. They include Corporate Evolution—participation, innovation, and creativity; Corporate Culture—vision, mission, values, and employee fulfillment; and Society and Community Contribution—social and environmental responsibility, being of service, and making a difference.”

14- “For trust to blossom and flourish, there must be shared values and mutual accountability, nurtured by cooperation and friendship. Above all, there must be a strong sense of working together for the good of the whole. Therefore, to grow trust, an organization must first grow community. The foundation of community is sociability (measure of sincere friendliness among members of community) and solidarity (measure of a community’s ability to pursue shared objectives quickly and effectively regardless of personal ties).”

15- “A leader is someone who holds a vision and courageously pursues that vision in such a way that it resonates with the souls of people.”

16- “To find real happiness at work, I had learned that I had to stop putting my energy into pleasing my boss, competing with others, and being the best. I had to release my unconscious fears about being valued and respected and pass through transformation.^ When I was free of the fears that were driving my competitive behavior, I was able to be my true self and be my own person. Only then was I able to discover my true passion and the joy of working in service to others.”

17- “The critical factors in successful transformations are (a) the management team’s commitment to modeling the new values and behaviors; (b) integrating the new values into the structural incentives of the human resource processes of the organization; (c) building psychological ownership by involving employees in defining the mission, vision, and values and the Balanced Needs Scorecard objectives and targets; (d) helping employees to think like owners; and (e) assigning responsibilities and developing structural mechanisms to support innovation, learning, and cultural renewal.”


Omar Halabieh

Liberating the Corporate Soul

On Peak

I recently finished reading Peak – How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow – by Chip Conley.

Below are key excerpts from the book that I found particularly insightful:

1- “This book is about the miracle of human potential: employees living up to their full potential in the workplace, customers feeling the potential bliss associated with having their unrecognized needs met, and investors feeling fulfilled by seeing the potential of their capital leveraged.”

2- “Maslow’s message struck a chord with many business leaders. In essence, he said that with humans, there’s a qualitative difference between not being sick and feeling healthy or truly alive. This idea could be applied to companies, most of which fall into the middle ground of not sick but not truly alive. Based on his Hierarchy of Needs, the solution for a company that wants to ascend up the healthy pyramid is not just to diminish the negative or to get too preoccupied with basic needs but instead to focus on aspirational needs. This idea is rather blasphemous for some. The tendency in psychology and in business has always been to focus on the deficits. Psychologists and business consultants look for what’s broken and try to fix it. Yet, “fixing it” doesn’t necessarily offer the opportunity for transformation to a more optimal state of being or productivity.”

3- “1. Every company is organized based on a certain premise of human nature. 2. Most companies aren’t very conscious of this fact and operate based on an outdated or short-term perspective, even though sustainable results might be better served by a different business approach. 3. Companies have a habitual “tendency toward the tangible,” which means that financial results usually get more attention than relationship issues. 4. More and more business scholars and consultants are making the intangible of relationships and the human spirit more tangible, and many successful companies are leading the way with respect to how they reorganize themselves to pursue both profits and happiness.”

4- “The Employee Pyramid: Money (Survival) – Creates base motivation, Recognition (Success) – Creates Loyalty, Meaning (Transformation) – Creates Inspiration.”

5- “The Customer Pyramid: Meets Expectations (Survival) – Creates satisfaction, Meets Desires (Success) – Creates commitment, Meets Unrecognized Needs (Transformation) – Evangelism.”

6- “The Investor Pyramid: Transaction Alignment (Survival) – Creates trust, Relationship Alignment (Success) – Creates Confidence, Legacy (Transformation) – Creates Pride and Ownership.”

7- “Finding meaning in one’s work—both in what you do daily d in the company’s sense of mission—is one of the rarest but most valuable qualities anyone can have in their job.”

8- “In reading Frankl’s book and in studying dozens of meaning-driven companies, I’ve come to realize that workplace meaning can be dissected into meaning at work and meaning in work. Meaning at work relates to how an employee feels about the company, their work environment, and the company’s mission. Meaning in work relates to how an employee feels about their specific job task. Pollard captures the potential synergy of this dichotomy with the following passage from his book, “As a person sees a reason for the task that is personally satisfying and rewarding and has the confidence that the mission of the firm is in alignment with his or her own personal growth and development, a powerful force is unleashed that results in creativity, productivity, service quality, growth, profit, and value.””

9- “Ironically, the two common elements that define companies that deliver on this level of the pyramid seem diametrically opposed to each other: technology (hard) and people (soft). Companies that know how to harness their technology and empower their people have the potential to deliver customized service that will translate into committed customers.”

10- “Buffett represents a growing set of business leaders who believe that “companies obtain the shareholder constituency diat tiiey seek and deserve.” He suggests that if companies “focus their thinking and communications on short-term results or short-term stock market consequences they will, in lar^e part, attract shareholders who focus on the same factors.” In other words, just understanding your business plan isn’t enough for business leaders. You need to also understand the motivations of your investors to ensure they’re aligned with your own.”

11- “If there’s one constant theme in all three pyramids, it’s t conventional wisdom is wrong. Conventional wisdom suggests that (1) money is the primary motivator for employees, (2) customers stay loyal when they’re satisfied, and (3) investors are exclusively focused on the financial return on investment. As we’ve seen, these are simply base needs that ignore higher human needs. At the peak of the Investor Pyramid, it’s ultimately a legacy, not liquidity, that people seek.”

12- “As a guide, I often refer them to the Transformation Pyramid we discussed in Chapter Two. Take a look at whether this activity or priority is a survival need (something that will help provide basic sustenance or comfort), a success need (something that will enhance the performance or experience), or a transformation need (something less predictable, more intangible, and ultimately, most satisfying or memorable). My number one recommendation for those who are using a pyramid to define their peak experience is to make sure you are climbing the right mountain. A midlife crisis is perhaps the natural result of someone realizing they’ve perhaps climbed the wrong peak.”

13- “The base needs are typically “has” needs: what material things we want in our life to give us safety, comfort, pleasure, or status. As humans and societies age, they move beyond the “has” to the “does” needs. As our material needs are met, what one does for a living becomes a more relevant symbol of our identity. At some point, relentless “doing” no longer carries currency, at which point the “is” needs predominate at the peak of the pyramid. You see this in wise men and women and in cultures that have learned that having and doing carry you only so far. When someone or something just “is,” it feels pure, essential, powerful, and magnetic. There is a strong sense of presence that accompanies this state of being.”


Omar Halabieh


On The Speed of Trust

I recently read The Speed of Trust – The One Thing That Changes Everything by Stephen M. R. Covey with Rebecca R. Merrill.

Below are key excerpts from the book that I found particularly insightful:

1- “In fact, both my personal life and my work as a business practitioner over the past 20 years have convinced me that there is a lot we can do about it. We can increase trust—much faster than we might think—and doing so will have a huge impact, both in the quality of our lives and in the results we’re able to achieve.”

2- “Simply put, trust means confidence. The opposite of trust—distrust— is suspicion. When you trust people, you have confidence in them. When you distrust people, you are suspicious of them—of their integrity, their agenda, their capabilities, or their track record. It We have all had experiences that validate the difference between relationships that are built on trust and those that are not. These experiences clearly tell us the difference is not small; it is dramatic.”

3- “Here’s a simple formula that will enable you to take trust from an intangible and unquantifiable variable to an indispensable factor that is both tangible and quantifiable. The formula is based on this critical insight: Trust always affects two outcomes—speed and cost. When trust goes down, speed will also go down and costs will go up. When trust goes up, speed will also go up and costs will go down.”

4- “Whether it’s high or low, trust is the “hidden variable” in the formula for organizational success. The traditional business formula says that strategy times execution equals results: But there is a hidden variable to this formula. Trust—either the low trust tax, which discounts the output, or the high-trust dividend which multiplies it.”

5- “THE 5 WAVES OF TRUST: The first wave, Self Trust, deals with, the confidence we have in ourselves—in our ability to set and achieve goals, to keep commitments, to walk our talk—and also with our ability to inspire trust in others…The second wave, Relationship Trust, is about how to establish and increase the “trust accounts” we have with others. The key principle underlying this wave is consistent behavior…The third wave, Organizational Trust, deals with how leaders can generate trust in all kinds of organizations, including businesses, not-for-profit organizations, government entities, educational institutions, and families, as well as in teams and other microunits within organizations…The fourth wave. Market Trust, is the level at which almost everyone clearly understands the impact of trust. The underlying principle behind this wave is reputation…The fifth wave. Societal Trust, is about creating value for others and for society at large. The principle underlying this wave is contribution.”

6- “The purpose of this book is to enable you to see, speak, and behave in ways that establish trust, and all three dimensions are vital…Clearly, these three dimensions are interdependent, and whenever you effect a change in one dimension, you effect a change in all three.”

7- “As my lawyer friends affirm, it basically boils down to these four issues; your integrity, your intent, your capabilities, and your results. You credibility—as an expert witness, as a person, as a leader, as a family, as an organization—depends on these four factors.”

8- “For most people, integrity means honesty. Though some don’t consciously realize it, honesty includes not only telling the truth, but also leaving the right impression. It’s possible to tell the truth, but leave the wrong impression, and that’s not being honest.”

9- “HOW TO INCREASE YOUR INTEGRITY…1. Make and Keep Commitments to Yourself…2. Stand for Something…3. Be Open”

10- “WHAT IS “INTENT”? In the dictionary, intent is defined as “plan” or “purpose.” I am convinced that no discussion of intent would be complete without talking about three things: motive, agenda, and behavior.”

11- “HOW TO IMPROVE INTENT…1. Examine and Refine Your Motives…2. Declare Your Intent…3. Choose Abundance.”

12- “One way to think about the various dimensions of capabilities is to use the acronym “TASKS.” Talents Attitudes Skills Knowledge Style.”

13- “HOW TO INCREASE YOUR CAPABILITIES…1. Run with Your Strengths (and with Your Purpose)…2. Keep Yourself Relevant…3. Know Where You’re Going.”

14- “HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR RESULTS…1. Take Responsibility for Results…2. Expect to Win…3. Finish Strong.”

15- “BEHAVIOR #1—TALK STRAIGHT: Be honest. Tell the truth. Let people know where you stand. Use simple language. Call things what they are. Demonstrate integrity. Don’t manipulate people or distort facts. Don’t spin the truth. Don’t leave false impressions.”

16- “BEHAVIOR #2— DEMONSTRATE RESPECT: Genuinely care for others. Show you care. Respect the dignity of every person and every role. Treat everyone with respect, especially those who can’t do anything for you. Show kindness in the little things. Don’t fake caring. Don’t attempt to be “efficient” with people.”

17- “BEHAVIOR #3— CREATE TRANSPARENCY: Tell the truth in a way people can verify. Get real and genuine. Be open and authentic. Err on the side of disclosure. Operate on the premise of “What you see is what you get.” Don’t have hidden agendas. Don’t hide information.”

18- “BEHAVIOR #4—RIGHT WRONGS: Make things right when you’re wrong. Apologize quickly. Make restitution where possible. Practice service recoveries. Demonstrate personal humility. Don’t cover things up. Don’t let pride get in the way of doing the right thing.”

19- “BEHAVIOR #5—SHOW LOYALTY: Give credit freely. Acknowledge the contributions of others. Speak about people as if they were present. Represent others who aren’t there to speak for themselves. Don’t bad-mouth others behind their backs. Don’t disclose others’ private information.”

20- “BEHAVIOR #6— DELIVER RESULTS: Establish a track record of results. Get the right things done. Make things happen. Accomplish what you’re hired to do. Be on time and within budget. Don’t overpromise and underdeliver. Don’t make excuses for not delivering.”

21- “BEHAVIOR #7—GET BETTER: Continuously improve. Increase your Capabilities. Be a constant learner. Develop feedback systems both formal and informal. Act on the feedback you receive. Thank people for feedback. Don’t consider yourself above feedback. Don’t assume today’s knowledge and skills will be sufficient for tomorrow’s challenges.”

22- “BEHAVIOR #8— CONFRONT REALITY: Address the tough stuff directly. Acknowledge the unsaid. Lead out courageously in conversation. Remove the “sword from their hands.” Don’t skirt the real issues. Don’t bury your head in the sand.”

23- “BEHAVIOR #9— CLARIFY EXPECTATIONS: Disclose and reveal expectations. Discuss them. Validate them. Renegotiate them if needed and possible. Don’t violate expectations. Don’t assume that expectations are clear or shared.”

24- “BEHAVIOR #10— PRACTICE ACCOUNTABILITY: Hold yourself accountable. Hold others accountable. Take responsibility for results. Be clear on how you’ll communicate how you’re doing—and how others are doing. Don’t avoid or shirk responsibility. Don’t blame others or point fingers when things go wrong.”

25- “BEHAVIOR #11—LISTEN FIRST: Listen before you speak. Understand. Diagnose. Listen with your ears—and your eyes and heart. Find out what the most important behaviors are to the people you’re working with. Don’t assume you know what matters most to others. Don’t presume you have all the answers—or all the questions.”

26- “BEHAVIOR #12— KEEP COMMITMENTS: Say what you’re going to do, then do what you say you’re going to do. Make commitments carefully and keep them. Make keeping commitments the symbol of your honor. Don’t break confidences. Don’t attempt to “PR” your way out of a commitment you’ve broken.”

27- “BEHAVIOR #13—EXTEND TRUST: Demonstrate a propensity to trust. Extend trust abundantly to those who have earned your trust. Extend conditionally to those who are earning your trust. Learn how to appropriately extend trust to others based on the situation, risk, and credibility (character and competence) of the people involved. But have a propensity to trust. Don’t withhold trust because there is risk involved.”

28- “Throughout this book, I have said that “leadership” is getting results in a way that inspires trust. Many trusted managers—credible people who lave high character and technical competence—never become “leaders” because they don’t know how to extend Smart Trust. They essentially operate in Zone 4, the zone of suspicion. They may delegate, or assign tasks to others with parameters for their accomplishment. They may extend fake trust—in other words, give “lip service” to extending trust, but micromanage the activities. But they don’t fully entrust. They don’t give to others the stewardships (responsibilities with a trust) that engage genuine ownership and accountability, bring out people’s greatest resourcefulness, and create the environment that generates high-trust dividends.”


Omar Halabieh

The Speed of Trust

On Strengths Based Leadership

I recently finished reading Strengths Based Leadership: Great Leaders, Team, And Why People Follow by Tom Rath and Barry Conchie.

Below are key excerpts from the book that I found particularly insightful:

1- “Three key finding emerged from this research: 1) The most effective leaders are always investing in their strengths. 2) The most effective leaders surround themselves with the right people and then maximize their team. 3) The most effective leaders understand their followers’ needs.”

2- “What great leaders have in common is that each truly knows his or her strengths – and can call on the right strength at the right time. This explains why there is no definitive list of characteristics that describes all leaders.”

3- “The Four Domains of Leadership Strength: Executing, Influencing, Relationship Building, Strategic Thinking. We have found that it serves a team to have a representation of strengths in each of these four domains…Although individuals need not be well-rounded, teams should be.”

4- “As you can hear int he stories of these four leaders, they have exceptional clarity about who they are – and who they are not. If any one of them had chosen to spend a lifetime trying to be “good enough” at everything, it’s doubtful they would have made such an extraordinary impact. Instead, they’ve all been wise enough to get the right strengths on their teams, and this has set up their organizations for continuous growth. Unfortunately, very few teams are truly optimized around their strengths.”

5- “What strong teams have in common: 1) Conflict doesn’t destroy strong teams because strong teams focus on results. 2) Strong teams prioritize what’s best for the organization and then move forward. 3) Members of strong teams are as committed to their personal lives as they are to their work. 4) Strong teams embrace diversity. 5) Strong teams are magnets for talent.”

6- “For a team to create sustained growth, the leader must continue to invest in each person’s strengths and in building better relationships among the group members.”

7- “…followers have a very clear picture of what they want and need from the most influential leaders in their lives: trust, compassion, stability, and hope.”

8- “Perhaps the ultimate test of a leader is not what you are able to do in the here and now – but instead what continues to grow long after you’re gone.”


Omar Halabieh

Strengths Based Leadership

On Executive Thinking

I recently finished reading Executive Thinking by Leslie L. Kossoff.

Below are thirteen key lessons, in the form of excerpts form the book, that I found particularly insightful:

1) “The executive must be able to speak to his vision clearly and charismatically in order for others to know where it is that he sees the organization going and why. That clear, exciting picture is the one that must be communicated, translated, and demonstrated to the rest of the organization through the actions and words of the executive and his executive and management staff.”

2) “Executive Thinking is not conventional thinking, nor is it a conventional organizational process. It is one in which, based on the dream of the executive, everyone becomes involved as an active participant in the shared dream. It is both tangible and amorphous. It is both process and result. It is the life and breath of the organization.”

3) “The executive must realize that, because his dream is iterative and evolutionary, there will never be a time when it is finished.”

4) “Knowingly or not, executives form their organization in their own image. The importance for the executive is to realize that the organization adopts what it believes to be that image. This puts a particular onus on the executive to be aware of the image he is projecting and to understand that the members of the organization are looking to him to determine the image and actions they must project.”

5) “It is useful for the executive to think of the dynamics within the organization not as competitive or adversarial activities, but as a dance. In so doing, the previously competitive and adversarial actions become part of a larger choreography wherein each person performs his steps while always knowing that his part is a part of the larger dance. That choreography is designed and determined by the executive.”

6) “As humans we are not limited to seeing things in one particular way. We choose to see things in a way that is most familiar to us. We develop thinking processes that keep us from seeing all that there is to see. We limit ourselves by not looking for or accepting the potential that is presented to us. But, just as thinking is a skill, our thinking paths can be altered and added to.”

7) “There are five trust-building behaviors that must be demonstrated. They are respect, reciprocity, consistency, integrity and involvement. Each is equally important. Unless each behavior is manifest, the model will not work. It may have some success, but ultimately it will falter and possibly fail.”

8) “Executive Thinking makes it worthwhile for individuals to challenge their previously held beliefs. Each individual sees that her participation in the system works not only to the benefit of the organization but to her own benefit as well.”

9) “The dream must be positioned so that its intent is clear and its outcome are of benefit to everyone. In this way, it becomes more than just the dream of the executive. It becomes the dream of each and every associate throughout the organization. The paradox of empowerment is that the stronger the executive and his direction and management of the organization, the more empowered the associates can be.”

10) “One of the problems that might well be encountered is the mistaken impression that a participative organization is a tolerant organization. This is and must be patently untrue. There can be no tolerance for behaviors that are not in keeping with the goals, expectations, and commitments of the organization to its associates and to its stakeholders.”

11) “Executive Thinking is a balance between action and results. Problems occur only when and if the process is wholly biased toward one or the other. Action must occur in the form of thinking and the actions that ensue as a result of that thinking. Results occur based on thinking and actions taken.”

12) “Decisions are made using the dream as the context. Actions taken are assessed both while in progress and after the fact to determine whether all the factors were adequately considered. Analyzing and applying lessons learned becomes an operating norm for the organization, both for those decisions that worked and for those decisions that did not work as expected.”

13) “Executive Thinking, however, is the greatest legacy that the executive can leave the enterprise. Through his commitment and actions he will have taught the organization how to dream…Thinking will have become a norm.”


Omar Halabieh

Executive Thinking

On The HP Way

I recently finished reading The HP Way – How Bill Hewlett and I Built Our Company – by David Packard.

As the title indicate this book is about the story of Hewlett Packard as told by one of the founding partners David Packard. This book offers a corporate history of how the company started from the infamous garage into a global enterprise, but more importantly focuses on the guiding principles on which this company was built – the HP Way.

What stands out in the HP Way is the deep commitment and belief in values and principles. These radiate from the founders and affect everyone and everything at HP. The HP Way covers all aspects of operations within the company and with external stakeholders (customers, shareholders etc.) in a way that transcends time and specific technologies (see below excerpts). Almost half a century later most of what is discussed is just as relevant than as it is now.

HP is currently in a desperate need to revive the HP Way and transform itself in order to turn itself around and succeed in the future. A highly recommended read.

Below are excerpts from the book that I found particularly insightful:

1- “…it has been a guiding principle in developing and managing HP. Get the best people, stress the importance of teamwork, and get them fired up to win the game.”

2- “We published a second version of the objectives in 1966 and they are as follows…1) Profit: To recognize that profit is the best measure of our contribution to society and the ultimate source of our corporate strength…2) Customers: To strive for continual improvement in the quality, usefulness, and value of the products and services we offer our customers…3) Field of Interest: To concentrate our efforts, continually seeking new opportunities for growth but limiting our involvement o fields in which we have capability and can make a contribution. 4) Growth: To emphasize growth as a measure of strength and a requirement for survival. 5) Employees : To provide employment opportunities for HP people that include the opportunity to share in the company’s success, which they help make possible. To provide them job security based on performance, and to provide the opportunity for personal satisfaction that comes from a sense of accomplishment in their work. 6) Organization: To maintain an organizational environment that fosters individual motivation, initiative, creativity, and a wide latitude of freedom in working  toward established objectives and goals. 7) Citizenship: To meet the obligations of good citizenship by making contributions to the community and to the institutions in our society which generate the environment in which we operate.”

3- “An important element of the HP Way has to do with the company’s relationship with its shareholders and the investment community. A primary objective in this area is to provide consistency in our corporate performance, including steady growth in earnings and equity.”

4- “At that time our policy at HP was to regard increased market share as a reward for doing things well – for providing customers with superior products and services and keeping our costs down. This has been a basic policy from the very beginning of our company, and we expect it to continue in the future.”

5- “The key to HP’s prospective involvement in any field of interest is contribution. Our objective is to expand and diversify only when we can build on our present strengths, and with the recognition that we have the proven capability to make a contribution. To meet this objective, it is important that we put maximum effort into our product-development programs. This means we must continually seek new ideas for new and better kinds of products.”

6- “The fundamental basis for success in the operation of Hewlett-Packard is the job we do in satisfying the needs of our customers. We encourage every person in our organization to think continually about how his or her activities relate to the central purpose of serving our customers.”

7- “…gains in quality come from meticulous attention to detail and every step in the manufacturing process must be done as carefully as possible, not as quickly as possible. This sounds simple, but it is achieved only if everyone in the organization is dedicated to quality.”

8- “It’s imperative that there be a strong spirit of helpfulness and cooperation among all elements of the  company and that this spirit be recognized and respected as a cornerstone of the HP Way.”

9- “Although we minimize corporate direction at HP, we consider ourselves one single company, with the flexibility of a small company and the strengths of a large one – the ability to draw on corporate resources and services; shared standards, values, and culture; common goals and objectives; and a single world identity.”

10- “I should point out that the successful practice of management by objective is a two-way street. Managers at all levels must be sure that their people clearly understand the overall objectives and goals of the company, as well as the specific goals of their particular division or department. Thus, managers have a strong obligation to foster good communication and mutual understanding. Conversely, their people must take sufficient interest in their work to want to plan it, to propose new solutions to old problems, and to jump in when they have something to contribute.”


Omar Halabieh

The HP Way

The HP Way

On Authentic Leadership

I recently finished reading Authentic Leadership – Rediscovering the Secrets to Creating Lasting Value – by Bill George. I selected this book based on its appearance on Martha Heller’s blog posting entitled Leadership Books Recommended by CIOs and Technology Executives: . Authentic Leadership was recommended by both Paul Hanson and Dan Wakeman.

As best summarized by Bill: “Its (the book) message is simple to state but challenging to realize: we need authentic leaders to run our organizations, leaders committed to stewardship of their assets and to making a difference in the lives of the people they serve.” The book is structured as follows:  “First, I will describe authentic leaders and how they develop. Next, I will look at how authentic leaders build authentic companies, because that is the crux of leading. Third, I will show how authentic companies compete more effectively in the market, and, finally, how authentic leaders look beyond the bottom line.”

What sets this book apart is its call for authenticity in leadership (“discover and cultivate that authentic self”) – as opposed to being prescriptive, as is the case with most books in its category. Bill brings corporate America back to its root – authentic, genuine, worthy of trust, reliance, and belief. A highly recommended read that stresses the need for new leadership – authentic leadership!

Below are excerpts from the book that I found particularly insightful:

1- “We need authentic leaders, people of the highest integrity, committed to building enduring organizations. We need leaders who have a deep sense of purpose and are true to their companies to meet the needs of all their stakeholders, and who recognize the importance of their service to society.”

2- “I believe that leadership begins and ends with authenticity. It’s being yourself; being the person you were created to be. This is not what most of the literature on leadership says, nor is it what the experts in corporate America teach…They describe the styles of leaders and suggest that you adopt them. This is the opposite of authenticity. It is about developing the image or persona of a leader.”

3- “There is no doubt that  CEOs have tremendous influence on the results of corporations. However, if we examine more closely the great success stories of the past twenty-five years…we see that each was built by a team at the top, not by a single person.”

4- “The key is having people around you who complement your weaknesses and make up for your lack of experience.”

5- “To become authentic, each of us has to develop our own leadership style, consistent with our personality and character. Unfortunately the pressures of an organization push us to adhere to its normative style. But if you conform to a style that is not consistent with who we are, we will never become authentic leaders.”

6- “Dimensions of Authentic Leaders: 1) Understanding their purpose 2) Practicing solid values 3) Leading with heart 4) Establishing connected relationship 5) Demonstrating self-discipline”

7- “The medium for developing into an authentic leader is not the destination but the journey itself – a journey to find your true self and the purpose of your life’s work.”

8- “…For each of the dimensions, a developmental quality is required for leaders to be effective: 1) Purpose: Passion 2) Values: Behavior 3) Heart: Compassion 4) Relationships: Connectedness 5) Self-Discipline: Consistency”

9- “Balanced leaders develop healthier organizations. By appropriately delegating their work, balanced leaders are able to make more thoughtful decisions and lead more effectively. Their employees make higher levels of commitment to the organization. In the end they achieve better results on the bottom line.”

10- “These five characteristics of the authentic company parallel closely the five dimensions of the authentic leader: 1) Purpose: Mission and vision 2) Values: Company values 3) Heart: Empowering employees to serve customers 4) Relationships: Enduring and committed organization 5) Self-Discipline: Results for all stakeholders”

11- “Articulating an organization’s value is straightforward, but gaining alignment of all employees throughout the company is much more difficult…Inculcating values throughout an organization starts with the leader, who sets the standard of behavior for everyone in the organization. The leader has to work hard every day to gain alignment with the company’s values, reinforcing positive actions and swiftly taking action with employees who do not emulate these values.”

12- “Companies that devote themselves to maximizing shareholder value will ultimately fail to do so. It is true that a sharp eye to cutting costs can result in significant improvements in a company’s short-term position, but unless the cost cuts are followed by  much larger long-term investments, the company is bound to lose its way. Shareholder value will stagnate and eventually decline.”

13- “Some executives mistakenly believe serving all stakeholders results in trade-offs and compromises shareholder value…In serving all the company’s stakeholders, the company’s sustained success makes shareholders the ultimate beneficiaries.”

14- “Pitfalls to Sustainable Growth: 1) Working without a clear mission 2) Underestimating the core business 3) Depending on a single product line 4) Failing to spot technology and market changes 5) Changing strategy without changing culture 6) Going outside core competencies 7) Counting on acquisitions for growth”

15- “(On Acquisitions)…The key is the integration process. Acquired companies can bring great creative and technical capabilities with them and challenge the existing organization to sharpen its innovative skills. They can also strengthen the management team with new talent and new approaches to serving customers. As the result of an effective process of integrating acquired companies, companies develop more enduring organizations.”


Omar Halabieh

Authentic Leadership

Authentic Leadership

On The Truth About Leadership

I recently finished reading The Truth About Leadership – The No-Fads, Heart-of-the-Matter Facts You Need to Know by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner. This book was recommended to me by my mentor. As the title indicates this is a book about leadership. The authors distill their research and learnings in this area into ten truth “about leadership and becoming an effective leader”.

One of the main premises in the book is: “We tell our audiences that as much as the context of leadership has changes, the content of leadership has not changed much at all. The fundamental behaviors, actions, and practices of leaders have remained essentially the same since we first began researching and writing about leadership over three decades ago. Much has changed, but there’s a whole lot more that’s stayed the same.”

The authors then go on to introduce the ten truths:

1- You make a difference

2- Credibility is the foundation of leadership

3- Values drive commitment

4- Focusing on the future sets leaders apart

5- You can’t do it alone

6- Trust the rules

7- Challenge is the crucible for greatness

8- You either lead by example or you don’t lead at all

9- The best leaders are the best learners

10- Leadership is an affair of the heart

What sets this book apart is the amount of research set forth to bring forward these conclusions in a concise and direct manner. The truths are further supported by stories to further exemplify the behaviors and attributes of leadership. A must read in the area of leadership and remember: “Leadership can be learned”!

Below are some excerpts from the book that I found particularly insightful:

1- “Leadership is not about who you are or where you come from. It’s about what you do.”

2- “The five practices of exemplary leadership…1- Model the way 2- Inspire a shared vision 3- Challenge the process 4- Enable others to act 5- Encourage the Heart.”

3- “Before they are going to voluntarily heed your advice, take your direction, accept your guidance, trust your judgement, agree to your recommendations, buy your products, support your ideas, and implement your strategies, people expect that you will measure up to these criteria.”

4- “The capacity to imagine and articulate exciting future possibilities is the defining competence of leaders. Leaders are custodians of the future. They are concerned about tomorrow’s world and those who will inherit it.”

5- “Here are four actions to keep in mind (trust): Behave predictably and consistently…Communicate clearly…Treat promises seriously…Be forthright and candid.”

6- “This means that you need to find a goal that can sustain your interest and the interest of those around you, for some considerable time. To be the most successful, you and your constituents must have a passion for a purpose and the perseverance to hang with it for the long term. This focus gives meaning to sticking through the hard times and to dealing with the often-inevitable disappointments and setbacks that accompany any significant significant accomplishment.”

7- “Leadership can be learned. It is an observable pattern of practices and behaviors, and a definable set of skills and abilities. Skills can be learned, and when we track the progress of people who participate in leadership development programs, we observe that they improve over time. They learn to be better leaders as long as they engage in activities that help them learn how.”


Omar Halabieh

The Truth About Leadership

The Truth About Leadership