Book Review: Identity is Destiny

 identity-is-destiny-cover.jpg Laurence Ackerman wrote a brilliant book entitled Identity is Destiny.  The book is about the importance of identity to organizations.  I highly recommend that C suite leaders and those who aspire to be read this insightful book.

Identity is critical to employee engagement and the Connection Cultures my colleagues and I at
E Pluribus Partners write and speak about. It is the first element in a Connection Culture which we describe as “Inspiring Identity” (or “Vision” for short).

Identity reflects the things that make a person or organization unique.  As brand experts know, relevant differentiation determines brand effectiveness and value.  Being unique or differentiated in a way that’s relevant to employees and customers is essential to an organization’s long term success.  I know of no other book that describes this force of identity as well as Ackerman’s.  Every organization should answer the questions Ackerman poses:

Who are we?

What do we stand for?

How are we different?

Where do I fit in?

In Ackerman’s book you will learn about his experiences as an identity consultant at Siegel & Gale, one of the world’s leading corporate identity consultants, where Ackerman helped organizations such as Korn Ferry, Fidelity and Alcoa discover their identities. Today, Ackerman is an independent consultant at
The Identity Circle.   He is also the author of a book about personal identity entitled The Identity Code.  I’ll have more to say about The Identity Code in future writings.

Losing the Level 5 Leader: Why Companies Fall From Great to Good or Worse.

When you look at the companies that Jim Collins has identified as being great, few could be described in those terms today.  Why?  The short answer is that companies change.  Or more specifically, the people leading them change.  Collins identified so-called “Level 5 Leaders” as one of the attributes of great companies.   These leaders combine a determination to build a great organization with personal humility.  No factor is more important to an organization’s success that having Level 5 Leaders because they have a positive effect on employee engagement. They infuse the organization with values such as excellence,  work ethic, open-mindedness, humility, and courage to speak truth.  These are values that help create a Connection Culture, primarily by increasing the elements of Vision (Inspiring Identity) and Voice(Knowledge Flow) in the organization’s culture.  

When a Level 5 Leader hands over the organization to a leader who isn’t a Level 5, the new leader may fail in several ways.  He may not be openminded causing people to fear telling him the truth.  Lacking sufficient knowledge to make optimal decisions, he makes suboptimal decisions and the organization’s performance declines.  Lacking humility, he may fail to be participative by not informing or seeking the opinions and ideas of others. When this value cascades throughout the organization, 75-80 percent of employees will become disengaged so that they stop putting their best efforts in their work and they stop communicating.  The failure of communication, once again, leads to suboptimal decision-making and performance decline.  The point here is that developing and selecting leaders is critical to sustain superior performance.  An organization may be great for a season with a Level 5 Leader on top but if it fails to develop a pipeline of Level 5 Leaders, however, you can be sure it won’t remain there.

Who is responsible for talent management in your organization?  Does she have the CEO’s ear?  Does he have the resources required to get the job done?  Your organization’s future depends on it.

Marc Effron, VP of Talent management at Avon and head of the New Talent Management Network, is a thought and practice leader in talent management. He will be my guest in a webcast on the October 30 at 11AM Eastern.  Marc will talk about how he and his team have transformed talent management at Avon with the “One Page Talent Management” approach they developed. You can sign up to hear this webcast live by clicking on
employee engagement.     

A Lively Time with Wharton Alumni in the Big Apple

wharton_logo2.jpgLast evening I had the privilege of speaking to the Wharton Alumni Club in New York City.  Wharton is recognized as among the very top tier business schools in the world and it is especially known for its strength in finance.  Given this reputation, you might expect a rather staid group of Wall Street types, right?  This group was anything but!  They were extremely interested in employee engagement and connection cultures.  They shared stories. They asked great questions.  It was a very stimulating evening!   Thank you to those Wharton alums who made time in their busy schedules to learn about the importance of connection.

Upcoming Webcasts on Employee Engagement and Social Media

Tomorrow at 11 AM Eastern I will be presenting a 30 minute webcast on Connection Cultures and how they increase employee engagement.  This is just one in a series of webcasts I’m hosting at the Leadership and Employee Engagement channel of BrightTALK.  In the coming weeks a number of great guests will be sharing their insights about employee engagement including Kristina Patrick, Senior Project Manager for Outreach & Business Development at H&R Block,  Larry Ackerman, CEO of The Identity Circle and one of the leading experts today on corporate and individual identity, Marc Effron ,  VP of Talent Management at Avon and head of The New Talent Management Network, and Paul Spiegalman, CEO of Beryl Companies and author of Why Is Everyone Smiling?. Although some of the webcasts are not yet scheduled, you can sign up for my webcast on Connection Cultures and the webcast with Kristina Patrick of H&R Block by clicking employee engagement

Buzz: Marshall Goldsmith Endorsement, Second Printing, Now in Vietnamese, Speaking Engagements

Fired Up or Burned Out continues selling well even though we don’t have a radio, tv or periodical “platform,” as publishing industry people call it. The book has spread mostly by word of mouth. Good things keep happening.  Here are a few.  Next week the second English language printing arrives.  The book was just published in Vietnamese.   Best-selling author and executive coach Marshall Goldsmith recently wrote an endorsement of it.  

I’m also receiving a growing number of invitations to speak, write and do interviews. In the coming months I will speak at several companies as well as at the
American Management Association, the Wharton Alumni Club, the University of Pennsylvania Club,  the Marketing Executives Networking Group, the Advanced Learning Institute,  AthenaOnline and the Society for Human Resource Management.  Articles I authored or about our work were recently published in Chief Learning Officer magazine, The Economic Times, Moving Ahead, and Live Mint.  Upcoming articles about our work will be published in M World: The Journal of the American Management Association and Rotman.

What does it all mean?  In addition to the growing word of mouth buzz about Fired Up or Burned Out, the interest in employee engagement is rapidly increasing as companies find it difficult to recruit and retain people in certain areas such as technology, healthcare, retail and oil and gas.  Companies have also told me they find it difficult to recruit and retain Generation Y workers. Interest in increasing employee engagement is just beginning. Increasing labor shortages and the competitive effects of globalization make this inevitable.   

Robert Morris: Business Book Reviewer Extraordinaire

robert-morris.jpg Last year I had the good fortune to meet Robert Morris. He is known for being among the very best reviewers of business books so I was naturally delighted when I read his favorable review of Fired Up or Burned Out.  Later on I met Robert while visiting Dallas.  He interviewed me for Knowledge Leadership at Thomas Group (the text of the interview follows this post).

Many readers have come to trust Robert’s book reviews for their clarity and insight.  If you’re interested in books on business and leadership, you would benefit from reading Robert’s reviews. You can find them in various places online. I prefer to read them on
Robert’s profile page at  

I personally enjoy reading and writing book reviews that I believe will benefit leaders, especially those in business.  Unfortunately, my time does not allow me to write reviews for many books.   As a means to expand my capacity to recommend books to leaders, I decided to post some of Robert Morris’ book reviews on my blog. Not all of his reviews but merely reviews that he has written of books I’ve read and feel his review is consistent with my own thinking. 

Many people know the name Robert Morris, but not the man.  Here’s more about him.  

Strip Joints, Salesmen and Employee Engagement

John (not his real name) read Fired Up or Burned Out and contacted me about a dilemma he faced.  John is a salesperson.  One evening following dinner with a customer, John’s boss said he was taking the customer and John to a strip joint.  John’s boss does this regularly and views it as a legitimate best practice among salespeople.  John’s wife learned about it and expressed her disappointment.  She also warned that if it happened again, she would leave him.  John understood her disgust.  He felt disappointed too.  John told me that frequenting strip clubs was against his values.  He also disclosed that he had little financial resources as well as a wife and several children to support, some of them in college.  He asked me for advice. What would you advise John to do?

Amazing Things Are Happening Here!

ny-presbyterian-logo.gif Last year Leader to Leader published a article Jason Pankau and I wrote entitled “Strengthening Human Value in Organizational Cultures.”  Previously, the article was only available to Leader to Leader’s subscribers or those who paid for a download from the internet.  Leader to Leader has given us permission to post the paper on our blog so here it is.  The article begins with a remarkable story about New York-Presbyterian Hospital System and its CEO Dr. Herbert Pardes.  New York-Presbyterian presently uses the tag line “amazing things are happening here” in its advertising and other written communications.  Read the article and I think you’ll agree.  

The Incredibles: Everyone has a “Voice” at Pixar

incredibles.jpgConnection Cultures have three elements: Vision, Value and Voice.  When people feel connected to the organization’s identity, to their colleagues and to their day-to-day tasks, they thrive (and so does their organization). Here’s a link to an article in Harvard Business Review by Pixar CEO Ed Catmull about how Pixar fosters creativity. It should come as no surprise that Voice is an integral part of Pixar’s culture.  With a string of hits that are the envy of the entertainment industry, I think it’s fair to say Pixar is thriving.  You might even conclude, they’re “Incredible!”

To learn more about Connection Cultures and how they increase employee engagement, productivity and innovation, download “
The Connection Culture Manifesto“at 

Webcast with David Zinger, Employee Engagement Expert and Founder of the Employee Engagement Network

david-zinger.jpgJoin me tomorrow at 11:00 AM Eastern when I will host a webcast with David Zinger, employee engagement expert and founder of The Employee Engagement Network.  David has a wealth of knowledge and wisdom, as well as strength of character.  He’s an inspiration to me and to many other professionals who work helping organizations engage their employees. In the webcast David will share his thoughts about the diverse connections that help engage people.  To sign up for the webcast, click on employee engagement.  If you are unable to join the live webcast, you can still click on the link to see the webcast recording.