Thursday, November 10, 2005

Manfred Kets de Vries at ILA

I was just reviewing my notes from the ILA conference and thought I'd post a few notes from one of the most fascinating of the keynote speakers - Manfred Kets de Vries (Raol de Vtry d'Avaucourt Chaired Professor of Leadership Development and Director, Global Leadership Centre, INSEAD, France). There are so many presentations that I could summarize but it would take way too much of my/your time. Manfred's insights were particularly helpful so I provide some of the high points below.

The beginning proposition was that our world is changing so fast that we have to adopt new ways of being and new methods of leading in order to survive. "If you're not confused, you don't know what's going on..." was one of his most startling assertions. We are in the midst of massive global change and anyone who pretends to have it figured out doesn't have a read on reality. He also said that what is essential in beginning to chart a positive future is getting the "people stuff" right. His belief is that many organizations are woefully ineffective because they rely too heavily on cognitive intelligence (IQ) versus emotional intelligence (EQ). He quipped that in the workplace, IQ gets you the job but IQ allows you to keep it. His research indicates that there is a 40%-60% incompetence rate in leadership in most organizations. The reasons include; unwillingness for leaders to exercise authority, tyranny of subordinates, micromanagment, and a lack of succession planning. Now, we could all join the BMW (Bitch, Moan, and Whine) club but that does little to address the problem.

Instead of adopting the conventional BMW perspective, Manfred recommended that the challenge of leadership is to create "authentizotic" organizations. This word is derived from the combination of authentic and exotic. Authentizotic organizations have eight key characteristics. First of all, they have direction and focus; in such settings leaders are the merchants of hope. Second, authentizotic organizations have a high performance (coaching) culture; everyone's purpose is to help each other be more effective. Third, there is careful selection and placement of talent. Fourth, authentizotic organizations are customercentric. Fifth, there is a spirit of entrepreneurship - but a connective entrepreneurship that continues to bind colleagues together. Sixth, the members of authentizotic organizations have voice - they are empowered to speak honestly and do not have to fear retribution for anything they might say or advocate. Seventh, these organizations are accountable - individually and collectively. Last, authentizotic organizations have a deep and profound level of trust that pervades the organization.

Manfred was quite possibly the fastest talker I've ever witnessed so some of my notes may have missed important details. However, I hope the essence stimulates your thinking about leadership in healthy, thriving, and cutting-edge organizations. The Division of Student Affairs is hosting Parker Palmer on November 18 for a program on "Authenticity in Our Work." It seems that Manfred's ideas may relate to, or prepare the way for, Parker Palmer's visit.

Manfred was quite humorous in his lecture and I missed noting most of the jokes. However, I was able to capture one that pretty much captures the dilemma of learning and leading - "The challenge of life is to die young as late as possible." Maintaining a young, curious, and energetic perspective helps us live life more fully and may even provide the opportunity for greater longevity - at least productive longevity.

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