Don’t Miss “All Hands on Deck: Building a Culture of Ownership”

Joe Tye's Book

I’m a big fan of Joe Tye.  He understands the importance of culture and has tremendous wisdom about values-based leadership.  His new book entitled All Hands on Deck: 8 Essential Lessons for Building a Culture of Ownership sounds wonderful. Although I’ve not read it yet, I plan to.  Joe has a special offer if you purchase All Hands on Deck this week.  You can learn about it at this link and be sure to watch the video of Joe talking about his new book while you’re there.

Leaders of the New Century

On June 23, I’ll be filming a few video segments for the Leader to Leader Institute’s “Leaders of the New Century” project that includes Allan Mulally of Ford, Sir Richard Branson and Tony Hseih of Zappos. Next week the Summer edition of the Leader to Leader Journal comes out. It includes an article that Jason Pankau and I wrote entitled “To Boost Productivity and Innovation, Connect with the Core.” The article is about how great leaders don’t just focus on star performers, they are intentional about connecting with employees at large. Examples in the article include Ret. U.S. Chief of Navy Operations Admiral Vern Clark and Bono, the lead singer for the rock band U2.

Book Review: Do More Great Work

Do More Great Work

Looks can be deceiving. At first glance,
Do More Great Work by Michael Bungay Stanier looks like yet another small, simple, beautifully-designed book. Oftentimes, books of this sort lack anything new or insightful. A few pages in, however, I realized this book was an exception. Do More Great Work gets to the heart of the work each of us should aspire to do — work that makes us feel fully alive and brings us joy. The author, who was named Canadian Coach of the Year in 2006, walks the reader through a series of maps and questions that provide valuable career guidance. As a result of reading this book, I made a change to my business so that I would do more great work and devote less time to merely good work. That’s the measure of a valuable book: it changes the reader in a positive way. I’m happy to report that Do More Great Work met that standard for me and, as such, I highly recommend it.

Note: There is a bonus if you buy the book by this Tuesday, February 23. Michael has an eBook Be Courageous (regularly $25) which he’s giving away with proof of purchase. If you’re curious, you can check it out just by sending a blank email to: For additional information click on this link.

Diversity 2.0

Andrés Tapia has a compelling vision. Tapia believes demographic changes and the complex set of problems facing humankind will force the integration of knowledge from the silos that much knowledge resides in today. As an example, Tapia points to the field of behavioral economics that integrates knowledge from the fields of psychology and economics. As part of this trend, Tapia argues that the physical and social separation of people based on their differences will also move toward integration. He describes this vision as Diversity 2.0.

What’s Your Work “Experience of a Lifetime”?

IMG_0449This is the mother ship, or at least that’s what I’ve always called the world headquarters of Morgan Stanley located in New York City’s Times Square. It was here that a significant moment in Wall Street history occurred on June 30, 2005. John Mack had been reinstated as Chairman and CEO by the firm’s board. On that day, when Mack and his wife Christy appeared at a meeting with hundreds of Morgan Stanley employees, they gave him a standing ovation. They knew this was an inflection point in the storied firm’s history. The man standing before them embodied their collective hopes that the firm would return to its former self by restoring a culture that was its greatest asset and the primary source of its competitive advantage.

Mack’s departure in early 2001 had come about as a result of Morgan Stanley’s merger with Dean Witter in 1997. Phil Purcell, Dean Witter’s CEO, became CEO of the combined firm and eventually pushed Mack out. Morgan Stanley’s reputation and culture suffered as a result of Purcell’s leadership style. I experienced the culture change first-hand. The book Blue Blood and Mutiny: The Fight for the Soul of Morgan Stanley describes this period in great detail and Joe Nocera of The New York Times wrote an excellent article about it entitled “In Business, Tough Bosses Are the Ones Who Finish Last.” Thanks to the vocal opposition to Purcell put up by former and current employees of Morgan Stanley, he was thrown out.

My introduction to Morgan Stanley came in 1996 when it purchased Van Kampen Investments where I worked reporting to the firm’s president and heading business and product development. As part of the team to integrate Van Kampen into Morgan Stanley, I commuted weekly to New York for a period of time. I was also part of a joint project to assess business opportunities in Japan. In 1998, I accepted  an offer to become chief marketing officer for Morgan Stanley’s Private Wealth Management Group. I was slightly apprehensive about moving to New York and joining this firm whose employees were known for their blue blood pedigrees. After all, I had grown up in the industrial town of Rockford, Illinois; my grandfathers had worked for a coal mine in the Appalachians; and I was the first in my family to go to college. I was intolerant of any hint of favoritism based on privilege rather than merit. I would soon learn that my concerns were unfounded.

Morgan Stanley was born as a result of the Great Depression. In 1934, the federal government forced the separation of investment banking and commercial banking pursuant to the Glass-Steagall Act and J.P. Morgan became two separate firms: J.P. Morgan and Company retained the commercial bank business and Morgan Stanley was created for the investment banking business. Both firms kept the values that J.P. Morgan himself summarized as doing first class business in a first class way.

From all I could see, this accurately described Morgan Stanley’s cultural DNA. The firm prized its reputation as first class. People at Morgan Stanley worked hard, were for the most part honest, and were typically engaged in philanthropic endeavors to help make the world a better place. Those who didn’t share the firm’s values weren’t considered to be “one of us” and they were thrown out if they lied, cheated or stole, or respectfully guided out if they didn’t live up to the firm’s standards of excellence. For me, Morgan Stanley’s values reflected my own and I was thrilled to be there and work alongside such outstanding colleagues.

The values that Morgan Stanley’s culture embodied included excellence in its every endeavor; open and, for the most part, civil debate on issues; and meritocracy in pay and promotions. It was a partnership culture in the very best sense and it had remained that way even after it converted from a legal partnership to become a publicly owned corporation in 1986. The energy and enthusiasm at Morgan Stanley was off the charts. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. My boss, John Straus, the head of Private Wealth Management, gave me the autonomy I needed to lead my department and get the job done. His door was always open when I needed his guidance or help navigating the politics that is part of every large firm. No one worked harder than John. My colleagues and I were inspired by his passion to create something great. I challenged the people I was responsible for leading to help Private Wealth Management reach its first billion dollar revenue year in history, a goal that we achieved  two and a half years later. It was one the best experiences in my professional life. Working at Morgan Stanley during those years was for me an experience of a lifetime.

Over time, as Phil Purcell and his loyalists exerted their control, that highly engaging environment soured. Former Morgan Stanley employees left in droves. John Straus left and, some months later, I did too. The experience was so eye-opening and disappointing to me that it was one of the catalysts for me to write the book Fired Up or Burned Out: How to Reignite Your Team’s Passion, Creativity and Productivity.

I’ve given a lot of thought to what made Morgan Stanley so successful. I know it was the firm’s people and culture. People were fired up because they worked in a Connection Culture. Another way to describe Morgan Stanley’s culture is that it was, as I wrote earlier, a partnership culture. David Sirota describes a partnership culture in his excellent book that I highly recommend entitled The Enthusiastic Employee and in this interview he did with Knowledge@Wharton.

How about you? Have you been a part of a Connection Culture or Partnership Culture where you felt connected to the firm’s mission, values, reputation, your colleagues and your day-to-day work? If so, what fired you up about it? I would like to hear about your work “experience of a lifetime.” Just post it in the comment section below.

(Note: on January 1st, 2010 James Gorman will succeed the retiring John Mack as Morgan Stanley’s CEO. John Mack will continue to be the firm’s chairman. To John Mack, I would like to say thank you for your leadership. And to James Gorman, congratulations and best wishes. Lead Morgan Stanley in a way that reflects the mindset of its founder who said  “…at all times the idea of doing only first-class business, and that in a first class way, has been before our minds.”  MLS)

Michael Lee Stallard speaks, teaches and writes about leadership, employee engagement, productivity and innovation at leading organizations including Google, GE, NASA, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics and the Darden Graduate School of Business at the University of Virginia.  Most recently, Michael and his colleague Jason Pankau filmed a 90-minute program for Linkage’s Thought Leaders Series that will be released in January of 2010.  Michael wrote the guest editorial for Talent Management magazine’s January 2010 edition and last month his article on how the force of connection boosts productivity and innovation was featured as the lead article in the UK’s Developing HR Strategy Journal. Click on these links to learn more about Michael and Jason in the media and their speaking engagements.



LRN’s Dov Seidman: Inspiring Principled Performance

Thought leaders such as Peter Drucker, W. Edwards Deming and Martin Seligman have had a profound effect on entire industries.  In this and coming posts, I’d like to bring your attention to a few thought leaders I believe will have a profound effect on business in the years and decades to come.

Dov Seidman is the CEO of LRN.  I’m going to see The New York Times columnist Tom Friedman interview Dov this Sunday coming evening at the 92nd Street Y in New York City.    You can purchase tickets for the event and see a video of Charlie Rose interviewing Dov at this link.  I highly recommend that you take the time to watch the video and, if you live in the NYC area, to attend the lecture/interview.

Dov argues that in today’s more transparent, hyper-connected world, maintaining a stellar reputation is critical to success.  The days of The Music Man — who behaves badly and then moves to another locale where inhabitants are unaware of past bad behavior — are gone.  Dov encourages organizations to develop a self-governing culture that out-behaves the competition.  His company helps organizations do this by providing, communication, education, certification and registry capabilities.

When organizations develop principled performance, it results in powerful connections among employees and with customers.  These connections are critical to sustainable performance as I have pointed out in The Connection Culture: A New Source of Competitive Advantage, a free ebook published by

To learn more about Dov’s views, I highly recommend reading his excellent book entitled  How: Why How We Do Everything Means Everything…In Business (and in Life) and checking out articles at this link to LRN’s website.

Gary Hamel: Three Challenges Facing Organizations

Last week I was invited to attend the World Business Forum in NYC with 50 other leading bloggers.  The presentation that resonated the most with me was Gary Hamel’s.  In it, he outlined three challenges facing today’s organizations:

  1. How do we build an organization that can change as fast as change itself? Change is accelerating at this time in history and organizations need to act faster to deal with opportunities and threats.  Consider the changes in the last century including in healthcare, microprocesssors, transportation, computing power, the internet, telephony, gene sequencing, biotech, etc.
  2. How do we build an organization where innovation is everyone’s job? The accelerated pace of change makes this a necessity.  Do employees understand their organizations innovation insights?  Is every employee’s contribution to innovation measured?
  3. How do we build an organization that actually inspires extraordinary accomplishment?  This is the most important of the three challenges facing today’s organizations.  On average, seventy-five percent of employees are not engaged in their jobs.  We need employees who regard their jobs as the way to bring their passion in the world. Our job as managers is to build a work climate, a sense of purpose that inspires initiative because obedience, diligence and intellect are mere table stakes in today’s hypercompetitive marketplace.

These ideas are from Hamel’s book, The Future of Management.  In upcoming blog posts, I’ll comment on the challenges Hamel identified.  Do you think he identified the top challenges? If so, why?  If not, what did he miss?

Connection Critical to Healthcare

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about healthcare organizations.  I recently spoke in New Haven to nearly 500 managers at Yale-New Haven Hospital and in Philadelphia to a group of CEOs that included several leaders from the Cancer Treatment Centers of America.  I’ve written from the patient’s perspective about my wife Katie’s battles with breast and advanced ovarian cancer and about Dr. Herb Pardes, head of New York-Presbyterian Health System, and how he is leading his organization to deliver patient-centered care. Recently, I interviewed Bill Shannon, Chief Wisdom Officer, at DaVita, Inc., the leading provider of kidney dialysis services and shortly I’ll be hosting a webcast with Pat Charmel, CEO of Griffin Hospital, a perennial member of Fortune’s best places to work list.

Two books I recently read reminded me again just how critical connection is to health care.

Connection — and Connectors — in Federal Government

Recently I’ve been spending more time in Washington, DC.  Earlier this year I spoke at the General Services Administration, the Executive Development Exchange Network (EDEN) and at  Senior Fellows and Friends.  In the coming months I’ll be speaking at the US Treasury Executive Institute, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Government Accountability Office.

Washington, DC is abuzz with energy, enthusiasm  and a “can do” spirit.  Some government employees meet on their personal time in groups such as Senior Fellows and Friends and 13L to exchange ideas that  make government more effective.  They have come up with innovative practices and programs such as Flash Mentoring and FedPitch.  The private sector could learn much from these thoughtful civil servants who dedicate their professional lives to a cause greater than self.

Yesterday I had the privilege of joining Martha Dorris, the Deputy Associate Administrator at the GSA’s Office of Citizen Services and AM 1500 Federal News Radio hosts Chris Dorobek and Francis Rose in an hour long discussion about my book, Fired Up or Burned Out, and creating Connection Cultures in Federal Government.  Martha is a dynamic leader and an intentional connector who is developing a Connection Culture at the GSA.  Chris and Francis are outgoing, intentional connectors too.  Their radio programs are thoughtful and encouraging.  They inform, educate, inspire and help federal government workers feel more connected. You can listen to our radio conversation by clicking on leadership and employee engagement in federal government.

During this critical time in history when we are rethinking the roles of the government, private and social sectors, government is playing an increasingly important part in shaping our collective future.  To this end, President Obama is challenging federal workers to make a difference.  He inspires them with a vision of positive change, values their service and contributions, and gives them a voice by seeking their opinions and ideas. And I’m looking forward to spending more time in DC to encourage and advise leaders about how to develop Connection Cultures that will help release the genius of the dedicated individuals who work in federal government.

New Webcasts: Servant Leaders, Lonely Leaders and Networking Leaders

In my experience as a leader, a board member and an advisor to leaders, I’ve learned that all great leaders are “servant leaders,” a term first used by Robert Greenleaf in his influential essay “The Servant as Leader.”  Recently, I hosted several webcasts on the leadership and employee engagement channel at that have a link to the servant leadership theme.  

Howard Behar, the inspiring and wise former president of Starbucks International, spoke with me about his experiences as a leader and his outstanding book entitled It’s Not About the Coffee.  I loved this book.