Team Model


Workers Gone Wild!

In the past two weeks several scandals have surfaced. Individuals with the US General Services Administration (GSA) have been accused of spending lavishly on parties, conferences, travel, and gifts. Under the leadership of Jeff Neely, Public Buildings Commissioner for GSA Region 9, these activities continued for several years.

Members of the US Secret Service were caught in Columbia hiring prostitutes and speaking openly of their mission in the country. Lastly, photos of US soldiers posing with body parts of suicide bombers in Afghanistan have come to light.

All of these incidents have a common thread—individuals have exercised poor judgment. The workers went wild, or as some say, have gone rogue.

Wild Party

While we, as leaders, never have control over our team members’ behavior, we can build and maintain an environment that will go a long way to prevent such rogue behavior.

First and foremost is to foster a culture that centers on doing a good job and feeling satisfied after a job has been well done. Maintain a healthy mix of accountability, fun, and rewards for appropriate action.

Research from several famous studies have highlighted the profound effects of social pressure and role identity. In the prison experiment by Zimbardo and colleagues, college students in the roles of guards began to abuse students in the roles of prisoners and the experiment was terminated earlier than planned. In the Milgram study on obedience, voluntary participants were forcefully ordered to continue to administer electric shocks to actors, illustrating the reluctant willingness for individuals to comply with requests. In a study reported by Solomon Asch in 1951, he relayed the inclination of people to conform to the majority of a group even when it went against their perception of what was correct. All of these studies, along with the concept of crowd psychology, illustrate how normal, well-intentioned individuals can get caught up in undesirable, and even despicable activities when a harmful culture emerges and continues unfettered.

Communicate stories of individual’s actions that promote the behavior you want to see in all workers. Culture is often built on such anecdotal vignettes that become part of the fabric of all organizations.

Secondly, maintain a vigilant focus on your goals. When you see behavior that wavers off the path, have a one-on-one discussion with the team member to understand the reason for the behavior and to re-align the behavior toward your team goals.

Finally, look at how you are selecting team members. Do you have an objective analysis of their personality? Conscientiousness, one of the personality facets in the Big Five personality models has shown good correlation with job performance. Many selection instruments incorporate this element into the mix.

I believe that good selection instruments, a continual focus on goals, and a healthy culture will greatly reduce the possibility of your team members creating embarrassment for you and your organization.


  • Foster a culture with a healthy mix of job satisfaction, accountability, joy, and rewards
  • Keep a vigilant focus on your goals
  • Select employees based on conscientiousness

Keywords: leadership, culture, dark side, goals, conscientiousness


  • Asch, S. E. (1951). Effects of group pressure on the modification and distortion of judgments. In H. Guetzkow (Ed.), Groups, leadership and men (pp. 177-190). Pittsburgh, PA: Carnegie Press.
  • Barrick, M. R., & Mount, M. K. (1991). The big five personality dimensions and job performance: A meta-analysis. Personnel Psychology, 44(1), 1-26.
  • Burton, J. P., Hoobler, J. M., & Scheuer, M. L. Supervisor Workplace Stress and Abusive Supervision: The Buffering Effect of Exercise. Journal of Business and Psychology, 1-9.
  • Costa, P. T., Jr., & McCrae, R. R. (1992). NEO PI-R professional manual. Odessa, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources.
  • Denison, D. R. (1984). Bringing corporate culture to the bottom line. Organizational Dynamics, 13(2), 4–22.
  • Denison, D. R. (2000). Organizational culture: Can it be a key lever for driving organizational change. In The Handbook of Organizational Culture. London: John Wiley & Sons.
  • Etzioni, A. (1975). A comparative analysis of complex organizations: On power, involvement, and their correlates (Revised and enlarged ed.). New York: The Free Press.
  • Haney, C., Banks, C., & Zimbardo, P. (1973). Interpersonal dynamics in a simulated prison. International Journal of Criminology and Penology, 1(1), 69–97.
  • Hogan, R. J., Curphy, G. J., & Hogan, J. (1994). What we know about leadership: Effectiveness and personality. American Psychologist, 49(6), 493-504.
  • Hogan, R. J., & Hogan, J. (2001). Assessing leadership: A view from the dark side. International Journal of Selection and Assessment, 9(1&2), 40–51.
  • Judge, T. A., Bono, J. E., Ilies, R., & Gerhardt, M. W. (2002). Personality and leadership: A qualitative and quantitative review. Journal of Applied Psychology, 87(4), 765-780.
  • Kahneman, D. (1992). Reference points, anchors, norms, and mixed feelings. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 51(2), 296-312. doi:10.1016/0749-5978(92)90015-Y
  • Kotter, J. P., & Heskett, J. L. (1992). Corporate culture and performance. Free Press.
  • Losey, S. & Medici, A. (2012, April 16) GSA calls on officials to repay party expenses. Federal Times. Retrieved from
  • McCrae, R. R., & John, O. P. (1992). An introduction to the five-factor model and its applications. Journal of Personality, 60(2), 175-215.
  • Meckler, L. (2012, April 14) Secret Service misconduct is alleged. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from
  • Medici, A. (2012, April 17) Inspector General: GSA official’s waste part of pattern. USA Today. Retrieved from
  • Milgram, S. (1963). Behavioral Study of Obedience. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 67(4), 371-378.
  • Perez, E. & Decordoba, J. (2012, April 17) New details in Secret Service case. Walls Street Journal. Retrieved from
  • Perez, E. & Molinski, D. (2012, April 19) More firings seen at Secret Service. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from
  • Senge, P. M. (1990). The fifth discipline: The art & practice of the learning organization. New York: Doubleday.
  • United States Secret Service. (2012, April 14) Statement by Assistant Director Paul S. Morrissey. Press Release. Retrieved from
  • Zucchino, D. (2012, April 18) U.S. troops posed with body parts of Afghan bombers. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from
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Are You Leading From Fear or Openness?

Over the past several months I have witnessed a fascinating diversity of leadership with respect to the polarities of fear and openness. One view of our world is that polarities exist for everything—black vs. white, hot vs. cold, up vs. down, and of course, fear vs. openness.

You can take your leadership to the next level by learning to harness the power of fear and openness as well as respecting the dark side of these emotions.

Man Screaming

Let’s look at fear first. Fear can be debilitating as well as energizing. Imagine you are fearful of changes in your team. You might be afraid of team members leaving, becoming burned out, or quarreling over frivolous issues. Any of these have the potential to decimate your team’s ability to meet it’s goals.

On the other hand, as the title of Andy Grove’s book states, only the paranoid survive. We all can do well with a healthy amount of fear. For example, fear of getting run over by a car keeps us alive as we walk across the street. Fear of our competitors gives us a good incentive to develop sound strategies and superior products. The trick is to use fear wisely and keep it in balance.

The other side of this polarity, openness, works in a similar fashion. You may be so open to new ideas and processes that you never get your current tasks completed. However, if you are too low in openness, you may stifle new processes, products, or strategies. In addition, a high level of openness is important in the early stages of a project but can be devastating in the final stages when you need to be converging toward a final solution and completion of tasks.

Now let’s throw the idea of change into this discussion, both internal and external change.

Change outside of your group, external change, is out of your control and it is healthy to fear it to the extent that you prepare for possible changes. If you fear external changes too much you may become impaired and end up freezing. Embrace the gamut of possible changes and develop strategies to deal with them.

Any changes you make internal to your team may be alarming as well. Team members may need to adjust to new roles and work assignments. Conflicts may arise during the adjustment period and some individuals may end up in roles they are not well suited for. However, remaining open to changes within your team can bring you to higher achievements and greater success.

As with all reflective work, awareness is the first step. Observe your emotions so that you are aware when fear emerges. Notice how fear can enhance your business strategies. Ask yourself how open you are when team members bring you innovative ideas. The ideas may also bring you fear. If so, feel the fear, juxtapose it with the openness, and explore the interplay of these two polarities.


  • Using fear wisely and precisely for positive gain can help you become more effective
  • Too much fear can debilitate you as a leader
  • A great degree of openness can help you embrace new ideas
  • Too much openness can delay or prevent completion of projects

Keywords: leadership, openness, fear, change


  • Kaiser, R. B., & Kaplan, R. B. (2006). The deeper work of executive development: Outgrowing sensitivities. The Academy of Management Learning & Education, 5(4), 463-483.
  • Krause, D. E. (2004). Influence-based leadership as a determinant of the inclination to innovate and of innovation-related behaviors: An empirical investigation. The Leadership Quarterly, 15(1), 79-102.
  • LePine, J. A., Colquitt, J. A., & Erez, A. (2000). Adaptability to changing task contexts: Effects of general cognitive ability, conscientiousness, and openness to experience. Personnel Psychology, 53(3), 563-593.
  • Suárez, J. G. (1993). Managing fear in the workplace (TQLO Publication No. 93-01). Department of the Navy TQL Office.
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The Visionary Leadership of Fred Smith

Fred Smith, Chairman and CEO of FedEx Corporation, has recently been making the rounds promoting his vision of all electric and hybrid electric vehicles in addition to the promotion of favorable tax and regulation codes, training, education, and free trade. Smith has always been a visionary, from his days at Yale writing a business proposal to deliver packages quickly to his current political activity promoting positive change to help the US economy and his company.

While other leaders sit back and point fingers or complain about problems, Fred Smith takes the time to discern the issues, dig deep into the heart of the matter, formulate a strategy, and then promote it both internally and externally. His energy is palpable. Upon hearing and reading his words I feel a profound energy moving all of us forward.

FedEx Express Plane

Under his leadership FedEx has recently pioneered the first commercial hybrid delivery trucks, tested fuel cell delivery vehicles, purchased lower fuel consuming airplanes, and set aggressive fuel efficiency targets. Such visionary leadership has grown the company from zero to almost $40B in 40 years.

As I have mentioned before, vision is one of the components of charismatic leadership. Research has also shown the value of vision in organizational growth.

So this begs the question regarding the vision for your team. If you have a vision, how was it crafted? Did the team provide input? Your superiors? Creating a vision does not have to be a complicated process.

My view is that vision work involves three steps: discernment, crystallization, and institutionalization.

Discerning a compelling vision for your team requires input from many sources, including team members, customers, industry analysts, and superiors. Gather as much information as possible regarding your field and begin working with core team members, if not all of them.

As you sift through all of your data look for themes and trends. Look for what is feasible within the amount of risk your organization is willing to take. Prepare several alternatives and see how they read with team members as well as customers. Once you find the most motivating creation, put a stake in the ground with your proclamation. Be confident in this vision.

Once you have solidified the vision communicate it widely and build your teamwork around the vision. Make the vision a part of your institution. Create narratives and stories around it, for it can truly become the key to your success.


  • Crafting a vision involves three steps: discernment, crystallization, and institutionalization
  • What is the vision for your team?
  • How has the vision for your team positively or negatively impacted their performance?
  • How can you make your vision more compelling and motivational?

Keywords: leadership, vision, charismatic leadership


  • Bass, B. M. (1990). From transactional to transformational leadership: Learning to share the vision. Organizational Dynamics, 18(3), 19–31.
  • Baum, J. R., Locke, E. A., & Kirkpatrick, S. A. (1998). A longitudinal study of the relation of vision and vision communication to venture growth in entrepreneurial firms. Journal of Applied Psychology, 83(1), 43–54.
  • Bennis, W. G., & Biedermann, P. W. (1997). Organizing Genius: The Secrets of Creative Collaboration. Perseus Books.
  • Dionne, S. D., Yammarino, F. J., Atwater, L. E., & Spangler, W. D. (2004). Transformational leadership and team performance. Journal of Organizational Change Management, 17(2), 177-193.
  • Kirkpatrick, S. A., & Locke, E. A. (1996). Direct and indirect effects of three core charismatic leadership components on performance and attitudes. Journal of Applied Psychology, 81(1), 36–51.
  • Larwood, L., Falbe, C. M., Kriger, M. P., & Miesing, P. (1995). Structure and meaning of organizational vision. Academy of Management Journal, 38, 740-769.
  • Westley, F. R., & Mintzberg, H. (1988). Profiles of strategic vision: Levesque and Iacocca. In J. A. Conger & R. N. Kanungo (Eds.), Charismatic leadership: The elusive factor in organizational effectiveness (pp. 161-212). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
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Are the Mics on? What to Communicate

On March 26, 2012, US President Barack Obama was in South Korea and met with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. As they were preparing to give remarks to reporters President Obama leaned over to President Medvedev and stated that he would “have more flexibility” in missile defense negotiations after his election.

This blunder is reminiscent of an off-the-cuff declaration by President Ronald Reagan on August 11, 1984 prior to his weekly radio address. Reagan announced, “My fellow Americans, I’m pleased to tell you today that I’ve signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.”

These comments bring to mind the issue of what to communicate to your team. As a leader you may frequently undertake exercises or explorations with radical negative team impacts. Since these exercises often have a very small chance of being executed and a release of an incomplete plan can install fear into team members, it is important that they stay within a small group of colleagues. While this may smack of clandestine and unsavory business dealings, it is the smart thing to do.

If you are negotiating with an external party this complicates matters further. You do not want to tip your hand to the other party, inadvertently providing them with an advantage. Negotiations can sometimes involve multiple individuals with specific roles, including “good cop/bad cop” duties, the technocrats, the diplomats, and so on. To share such details with your team is both unnecessary and a waste of time and energy.

When considering how much information to share broadly with your team, a litmus test I use is to consider:

  • Likelihood that the scenario will play out
  • Ramifications on the psyche of individual performers
  • Effect of a transmission of partial information or information taken out of context to other groups
  • The value of your team having the information vs. not having the information.

Whatever information you do share with your team, assume that it will be spread widely. I often chuckle at the comment, “Don’t tell anyone, but…” If everyone follows this common policy then everyone ends up knowing the information.

On a related note, I routinely have leaders confide to me that team members are talking behind their backs. Expect that. Accept the fact that everyone is talking about everyone and forget it. Move on to more important issues. People share thoughts and experiences to expand their knowledge and to attempt to bring certainty to uncertain situations. This is why rumors start.

As humans, we abhor uncertainty. Rumors are an effort to find certainty in uncertain circumstances. It is best to deal with rumors using frequent, clear, honest communication. In these communications it is acceptable and reasonable to say that you cannot divulge all information. A good example is potential layoffs. If rumors begin you may need to state that layoffs are being explored but that they are a last resort. You should also state what actions are being taken in order to avoid such an action.

Here’s a parting thought on what to communicate… Think about what you would tell an eight year old child of yours about a possible negative event. On one hand you want to prepare the child, on the other you don’t want to instill him or her with anxiety or fear. So remain thoughtful and diligent about what and how you communicate.


  • Communicate only what is valuable and necessary for your team
  • Assess the ramifications of what you are planning to share
  • It’s acceptable to state that you can’t share everything at the moment but that you will provide updates as more information becomes certain

Keywords: leadership, communication, rumor, negotiation


  • Allport, F. H. (1924). Social Psychology. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
  • DiFonzo, N., & Bordia, P. (2006). Rumor psychology: Social and organizational approaches. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
  • Hersey, P., Blanchard, K. H., & Johnson, D. E. (1993). Management of organizational behavior: Utilizing human resources (6th ed.). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
  • Jarvenpaa, S. L., & Leidner, D. E. (1998). Communication and Trust in Global Virtual Teams. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 3(4). Retrieved from
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Leadership in the Aftermath of Greg Smith

On March 14, 2012 Greg Smith, a Vice President in the London office of Goldman Sachs, resigned from the firm. The same morning an op-ed piece from him with a public explanation for his resignation was posted on Mr. Smith stated that he could no longer work at Goldman given the shift, in his opinion, from a strong customer orientation to concern solely for Goldman’s profit.

Reflecting on how you might respond to a similar situation is a good leadership exercise. I believe there are two facets, or angles, from which to view this situation—internal and external to your organization.

As a leader, I feel it would be crucial to reach out to customers as quickly as possible with a message describing your values related to customer satisfaction and providing specific examples where customer benefits were put before your own corporate profitability. As I have written previously, trust is an essential element of leadership. This message can be delivered without a reference to the op-ed piece, thus keeping Mr. Smith’s negative view below the radar if it had not surfaced at any given customer.

The second facet is more difficult. An important question is the accuracy of Mr. Smith’s views. If his views are a faithful representation of your culture then it is time for some organizational reflection and soul-searching. It may be important to ask yourself what cultural values you wish to promulgate and then make a concerted effort to assess leader behavior.

Your behavior speaks louder than your words. Maintaining awareness of your own behavior is frequently difficult although training in mindfulness can pay great dividends. Using a third party to gather qualitative and quantitative views of your behavior is a good complementary method of assessment.

While it may be easy to dismiss Mr. Smith as simply a disgruntled employee, an authentic leader will have the desire to dig deep within himself and into the organization for any lessons that may be gleaned from this unfortunate situation.


  • Embrace and quickly respond to any customer concerns related to publicly aired negative views of your organization
  • Take any negative opinions of your leadership to heart
  • Use self-reflection and mindfulness to become more aware of your own behaviors
  • Use a third party to gather qualitative and quantitative views of your behavior

Keywords: leadership, trust, culture, mindfulness


  • Hogan, R. J. (2007). Personality and the fate of organizations. New York: Lawrence Erlbaum.
  • Hogan, R. J. (2008, April). Leadership is a Hygiene Factor. In R. B. Kaiser (Chair), Unconventional thinking about leadership. Symposium conducted at the meeting of Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology Conference 2008, San Francisco, CA.
  • Schein, E. H. (1990). Organizational culture. American Psychologist, 45(2), 109–119.
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Is Your Leadership Energy in Balance?

One of the angles from which I approach leadership and team development is that of energy. Viewing all interactions with others in an energetic sense is merely one of many views available. It is similar to wearing polarized sunglasses. When wearing glasses with polarized lenses, unless you turn your head at the right angle you cannot always see the electronic display on some instruments.

In an analogous fashion, if you work to attune your awareness you can begin to follow the flow of energy between you and your team members. I believe that it is important to balance the flow of energy in both directions—away from you and toward you.

It is clearly important that, as a leader, you are able to communicate your vision and provide guidance. This is energy flowing away from you. Similarly, it is important for you to listen and gather information and ideas from your team members as well as your superiors. This is energy flowing toward you.

Body language is an important part of our communication. You might consider trying to observe your body language as you interact with your team members. Do you appear open, or overbearing? Is your body language congruent with what you speak? When your body language indicates strength or force you are sending energy out, when your body appears open you are saying, in effect, that it is OK for the other person to speak and send energy your way.

Finally, where do your exchanges take place? Always in your office or a conference room? How often do you go to your team member’s desk? In general, your office will be perceived as a place of power, a place where the energy will flow from you. When you go to your team member’s office it is more a signal of energy flowing to you, although any actions on your part may thwart that flow and reverse it.

Balancing this flow of energy is difficult to maintain, particularly when leading virtual teams. As with most things, practice helps. Observe yourself as you interact with team members and superiors. After a while it will likely become second nature.

Observe energy flow:

  • During verbal exchanges
  • With team members and superiors
  • In different locations
  • With body language
  • Of information and ideas

Keywords: leadership, balance, energy, flow, trust


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Are You Raising Pay to Retain Workers?

Today’s Blondie cartoon shows an example where the tyrannical boss, Mr. Dithers, tacks up a motivational poster and wonders if it will improve the performance of his workers. This cartoon, coupled with the anecdotal reports of companies raising pay to retain high performing workers, brings me to write this post explaining the relationship of three very important variables all leaders should understand.

Looking at our first variable, most leaders want team members who consistently perform at a high level, that is, having high job performance.

This begs the question of the second variable—how to motivate workers to perform at that level. Roughly three decades of research from the 1960s to ‘80s have settled in on the concept of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. It was found that a segment of workers is motivated intrinsically, that is by challenges, promotions, and creating compelling products. Think Steve Jobs and his concept of putting a “dent in the universe.” Individuals, such as engineers and programmers are generally intrinsically motivated. They desire to create the next breakthrough product or service. As for extrinsic motivation, we frequently hear of sales people being extrinsically motivated by commissions, bonuses, and year-end trips and parties.

An important element in your success as a leader is to understand how your particular team members are motivated—extrinsically or intrinsically. Some of the research has shown that extrinsic rewards can destroy intrinsic motivation. If you’d like to read more about that, check out my previous post on motivation here.

The third variable is job satisfaction. Factors such as pay, work environment, organizational policies, and relationship with superiors make up this variable. In general, low job satisfaction drives turnover and absenteeism. Strangely enough, high job satisfaction won’t necessary motivate workers to perform better.

Having laid this foundation, let’s turn to the concept of raising pay to retain workers. Will it work? Possibly.

If a worker is extrinsically motivated, the additional money will likely have an effect on his or her performance and willingness to stay on with your organization.

However, if the worker is intrinsically motivated it will depend on the level of pay commensurate with the pay at other organizations. If you are paying less than other organizations and the worker is being motivated by challenging work, promotions, or some other intrinsic rewards, then the increased pay will likely help.

If your level of pay is on par with other organizations and you have challenging work assignments for your intrinsically motivated individuals, then you probably don’t have to worry.

People and Job Dynamics

I frequently use the accompanying chart with organizations to explain the relationship of these three important variables. Looking at the bottom row, low job performance, we can see that low performing workers will either be dismissed or quit if their job satisfaction is also low. I’m not sure what it means if a worker has high job satisfaction but low job performance.

For individuals performing at a high level, if they are extrinsically motivated and not satisfied with their job they may stay and feel miserable or leave. Increasing the pay of these individuals may help greatly if that is one of the factors contributing to the low job satisfaction.

If the individuals in question are intrinsically motivated, and are suffering from low job satisfaction, raising their pay is unlikely to have any lasting effect. You need to find how out what motivates them and respond appropriately.

Bottom line: talk to your team members and find out what excites them. If it’s money, fine. Otherwise, determine where their passion lies and find creative ways to plug into that energy. That’s leadership.


  • Three variables are important when considering how to retain and motivate team members: motivation type, job satisfaction, and job performance
  • Additional pay is likely to retain extrinsically motivated individuals if they are otherwise reasonably satisfied with their job
  • Additional pay for intrinsically motivated individuals is likely to help only if they believe that they are currently underpaid and are otherwise highly motivated by challenging assignments, promotions, and other intrinsic rewards
  • Additional pay is not likely to help retain workers if factors other than pay are contributing to low job satisfaction

Keywords: leadership, motivation, job performance, job satisfaction


  • Amabile, T. M. (1997). Motivating creativity in organizations: On doing what you love and loving what you do. California Management Review, 40(1), 39-58.
  • Herzberg, F. (1968). One more time: How do you motivate employees? Harvard Business Review, 46(1), 53-62.
  • Judge, T. A., Thoresen, C. J., Bono, J. E., & Patton, G. K. (2001). The job satisfaction-job performance relationship: A qualitative and quantitative review. Psychological Bulletin, 127(3), 376–407.
  • Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being. American Psychologist, 55(1), 68-78.
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Are You Giving the Gift of 5 Minutes?

Last week I was speaking at a women’s leadership conference and enjoyed the keynote speech by Maggie Jackson, author of Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age. In her talk she related the story of a woman whose boss would never give her his full attention. He would continually look at a screen, whether a cell phone or computer monitor, while attempting to carry on a conversation with her. The pain in her face was obvious as she exclaimed to Maggie,”Five minutes. That’s all I wanted—five minutes.”

As leaders, many of us feel compelled to remain as connected as possible to the network in cyberspace so that we can maintain a pulse on our team, our projects, and requests from superiors. This compulsion may be due to a self-imposed drive or from pressure above.

Let’s contrast this urge to stay connected with the network versus the need for a strong rapport with subordinates. Giving every team member your full attention is good leadership for many reasons.

First, it signals to the team member that you value them and what they have to say. It also shows respect, one of the most fundamental desires for us humans.

Secondly, good communication is one of the foundations of successful teams and organizations. Not surprisingly, Rensis Likert discovered in his research that communication was a key component of successful organizations. In the most effective organizations (System 4) the superior “Knows and understands problems of subordinates very well” and the interaction is “Extensive, friendly interaction with high degree of confidence and trust.”

While I rarely see this behavior, I hear of it quite a bit. It’s worthwhile to ask yourself if you’re connecting with your team members and giving them your full attention—at least for five minutes.


  • Building a strong rapport with your team members shows you value and respect them.
  • Good communication is one of the foundations of successful teams and organizations.

Keywords: leadership, communication, distraction, rapport


  • Bass, B. M. (1990). Bass & Stogdill’s handbook of leadership (3rd ed.). New York: The Free Press.
  • Hersey, P., Blanchard, K. H., & Johnson, D. E. (1993). Management of organizational behavior: Utilizing human resources (6th ed.). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
  • Likert, R. (1967). The human organization: Its management and value. New York: McGraw-Hill.
  • Shapero, A. (2004). Managing creative professionals. In The Human Side of Managing Technological Innovation: A Collection of Readings (2nd ed., pp. 48-55). New York: Oxford University Press.
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So You Want to be a Leader: What is Your Myers-Briggs Type?

In conversations with leaders and those who select them the topic of the Myers-Briggs type indicator (MBTI) occasionally arises. While the Myers-Briggs type may not be the best assessment of personality it is certainly the most well known.

Let’s start with a quick review. A Myers-Briggs type contains four letters. For example, I usually score as an ENFP. The first letter is how you gather energy. Extroverts (E) are energized in groups and during interactions with other people. Introverts (I) are more energized in quiet moments. The second letter can be thought of as the way you gather information. Intuitive (N) leaning individuals look for patterns in the past while sensing (S) individuals look around in the present moment. You can think of the third letter as an indication of how you make decisions. Thinking (T) individuals use logic and reason to make decisions. Feeling (F) people look for what will best create harmony. Finally, the last letter is how an individual closes issues. Judging (J) individuals like to close things down, to converge on solutions or decisions, wrap them up with a bow, and move on to the next project. Perceiving (P) individuals like to leave things open because they may want to incorporate new data as it become available.

I frequently hear upper level managers say something to the effect of, “I think I want Sally to lead that team because she’s good at getting projects done. She gets groups to converge to a solution rather quickly.” When I hear this my first question is to inquire as to the nature of the new group’s task. If the task is one which requires a lot of discovery and inquiry, then Sally is probably not a good fit. From the manager’s first statement it is clear that Sally has a tendency toward judging and closing things down. The judging factor is indeed what you need when closing a project down, but it’s not what you want for a group whose mission is to explore and discover.

An important point to remember is that the Myers-Briggs type indicates a preference. It is not a fixed type of personality. If you look at the questions you will see that you are forced to choose between one of the responses.

As a leader, I don’t always care where a person scores, that is, what their preference is. I care greatly, however, whether or not they can easily shift from one mode to another. For example, a leader may be in a position which requires much analysis with numbers and technical issues. For this the thinking orientation will serve well to help make good and quick decisions. However, when personnel issues arise we need this leader to be able to shift quickly, to adapt to a feeling perspective.

The Myers-Briggs type is an excellent model to describe behaviors, and is one I frequently use with my clients. As with all tools, use it wisely and within its limitations.


  • The Myers-Briggs type indicates an individual’s preference
  • How well a leader can adapt to the issue in the present moment is more important than their preferred mode
  • The Myers-Briggs type is a good model that highlights many important elements of leadership

Keywords: leadership, Myers-Briggs, MBTI, extrovert, introvert, sensing, intuitive, thinking, feeling, judging, perceiving, adaptability


  • Furnham, A. (1996). The big five versus the big four: The relationship between the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and NEO-PI five factor model of personality. Personality and Individual Differences, 21(2), 303-307.
  • Furnham, A., Dissou, G., Sloan, P., & Chamorro-Premuzic, T. (2007). Personality and intelligence in business people: A study of two personality and two intelligence measures. Journal of Business and Psychology, 22(1), 99-109.
  • Furnham, A., Moutafi, J., & Crump, J. (2003). The relationship between the revised NEO-Personality Inventory and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Social Behavior and Personality, 31(6), 577-584.
  • Myers, I. B., McCaulley, M. H., Quenk, N. L., & Hammer, A. L. (2003). MBTI manual: A guide to the development and use of the Myers-Briggs type indicator (3rd ed.). Mountain View, Calif.: CPP.
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Rick Santorum-How Persistence Pays

I’ve been fascinated with the 2012 Republican primary process. A field of eight has narrowed to a field of four and of those only Ron Paul has had a steady following. After squeaking a win in the Iowa caucuses Santorum trailed significantly and many were wondering when he would follow his four compatriots in dropping out of the race.

But Rick Santorum persisted and kept showing up. It paid off. On February 7 he won two caucuses and a primary, putting him firmly back in the race.

Perseverance, or what some call grit, is an excellent leadership trait that is infrequently discussed. Research has shown it to have a measurable impact on success in education. Qualitative research reveals perseverance as a common thread among successful individuals.

This doesn’t mean that you should continue down a dead-end path on a project, however. Balance is needed when encountering obstacles. I find it helpful to keep one eye outside looking around to get a sense of whether or not it may be time to adapt and change course or stay on the current course.

And so, as I continue to monitor the Republican primary process I am reminded what the great sage Woody Allen said, “Eighty percent of success is showing up.” Sometimes that’s all you have to do.


  • Perseverance frequently wins the race when others have caved
  • When obstacles arise exercise balance in deciding how much to look around for alternatives

Keywords: leadership, persistence, perseverance, grit


  • Doskoch, P. (2005). The winning edge. Psychology Today, 38(6), 42-52.
  • Duckworth, A. L., Peterson, C., Matthews, M. D., & Kelly, D. R. (2007). Grit: perseverance and passion for long-term goals. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92(6), 1087-1101. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.92.6.1087
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