Monday, January 7, 2002

Morrie Shechtman on leadership :::

Morrie Shechtman on leadership ::: I’m down in Florida at the Winning Is Everything conference (two days, accountants only. You know you’re jealous!), and the afternoon’s keynote presenter was Morrie Shechtman, author of Working Without a Net. Put simply, if you ever get a chance to sit in a room where he’s presenting, don’t miss it. He’s that good.

Morrie ShechtmanIf you spend a few minutes at their web site, you might get the idea that The Shechtman Group’s approach is a little touchy-feely. It’s not. I took more notes, was more engaged, and felt more challenged in the hour or so that Morrie presented than I have been in a long time. I can’t do justice to the depth of the topics he covered in this post, but let me try and hit some high points:

  • Firms who aim to keep clients happy 100% of the time will go out of business. Valuable, productive relationships require challenge – both parties must grow, and at times there will be conflict. Conflict is itself positive, if both parties work towards growth. Happy clients are clients that either aren’t challenging their firm or clients that aren’t being challenged. Either way, they aren’t all valuable clients.

  • The only distinction between successful professionals and mediocre professionals are those that are good relationship managers. Unlike years ago, relationships today form quickly and require high intimacy to succeed. Only professionals who can quickly form and foster relationships – and provide the intimacy required to maintain the relationships – will be able to dominate in today’s services market.

  • The information overload we’re experiencing creates conflict, and can lead to the commoditization of relationships. Professionals need to avoid this tendency, and work to engage the relationship and ensure it deepens. Only then will the professional’s knowledge continue to be valued.

  • Leadership requires:

    1. Everyday behaviors must align with core values.
    2. Leaders must demonstrate emotional predictability. (Moody leaders are counterproductive.)
    3. Leadership needs to model emotional transparency. (People need to know where you stand.
    4. Leadership needs to create and maintain a feedback-rich environment. (This is actually a topic that Jim Collins addresses in depth in Good to Great.)
    5. Leadership needs to have a developmental focus: head, heart, feet. (People understand something intellectually, commit emotionally, then act.)
  • Professional services firms have often been run by charismatic leaders – and this charisma works against the firm. Professionals need to know that the entire organization benefits; a charismatic individual is often seen as the sole beneficiary.
There’s a whole bunch more that he covered, but you get the idea. This is someone who has given this topic an extraordinary amount of thought, and who has some solid, well-reasoned discussions on issues of leadership, organizational culture and personal/ professional growth. I haven’t spent enough time reading about his notion of “Fifth Wave Leadership”, but it’s interesting to note the emphasis on the individual instead of the organization. Maybe there’s some interesting complements to Collins’ focus on organizations in Good to Great?

(Memo to the folks running the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, which opened 3 days ago and is host to the conference: Leaks in your first week? No street signs, street lights, or employees who know how to give directions to the surrounding areas? Is there such a thing as a hotel beta test? Now I won’t go creating any PowerPoint presentations to complain (it’s online here), but you guys cut the ribbon a few weeks too early…)

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