How Business Leaders Innovate by Stimulating Passion,
Intuition and Creativity
Highlights by John McLain
In the New Economy, information moves so fast that managers now need to function more like leaders in making decisions that can't wait to reach the CEO's desk, says Granville Toogood, executive coach to more than half of the Fortune 100 CEOs.
In his new book, The Creative Executive: How Business Leaders Innovate by Stimulating Passion, Intuition and Creativity (Adams Media, 2000), Toogood, a former LIFE Magazine reporter and writer-producer at ABC and NBC and Today Show writer, outlines the strategies that can help all employees gain leadership skills.
"Unfortunately, America's business schools train managers. They don't train leaders," says Toogood, who also says there are many managers but few leaders in the high-tech industry.
"When you look at Silicon Valley startups, these kids have great engineering and technical design skills, but they don't know how to lead, persuade or inspire," says Toogood, CEO of Toogood Associates, a global executive communications firm in Darien, CT. "If they have a vision, too often they don't know how to articulate it."
Too many techie execs over-rely on things like email, cell phones, wireless laptops, thus isolating themselves and failing to hone face-to-face skills and leadership qualities that a visionary CEO must have, Toogood says. "What does it profit us to be technology wise and interpersonally stupid?" he adds.
"Two important shortcomings of many young IPO CEOs-especially high-tech engineers and computer wizards-are: (1) They often fail to make the treacherous leap from engineering and design to managing a rapidly growing company; and (2) They may be great inventors and technicians, but they often fall flat in trying to present their story to the investment community-sometimes because they don't know what their own story is."
"Industry founders such as Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, however, are very much like the old-timers. They pursue their creations and will stick to it to the end. Today's young managers are different from old-line titans like Carnegie, Mellon and Rockefeller. They're often managing professionals who move with ease from corporation to corporation and don't have the same sense of commitment and depth.
"B-schools drop the ball every day because they are teaching financial, quantitative and accounting skills, but neglecting a big piece of the equation - first-rate business communications skills. At analysts' meetings, analysts don't say, 'What do you think of what so-and-so had to say?' Instead, they ask, 'What do you think of so-and-so?'
"Too often young managers approach their jobs in such a way that their jobs cease being fun. When you take fun out of work at the top, this can spread like a malaise throughout the firm and wind up causing dysfunction.
"One way to have fun on the job is to search for ways to be ever more creative. When change occurs - and it will - see change as opportunity rather than obstacle. Look for ways to use creativity to manage the change and make change work for you, rather than against you.
"All the talent and brains in the world will do you no good if you can't define your objectives, articulate your vision, rally the troops and persuade shareholders and investors that you're not only a leader, but a leader worth following.
"Technology is great but it will never replace - nor be as effective as - flesh and blood human beings. People show passion, creativity, articulation and brilliance, which is something even the best machine can never do. No machine can inspire confidence, generate friendship or close a deal.
"People will always be the decisive factor. In a technology-rich future, those who recognize the business value of person-to-person relationships can distinguish themselves and seize hidden opportunities. Each day millions of business people achieve far less than should because they don't understand how to communicate effectively."
As an executive coach, Toogood has determined that companies should be doing more to groom women for high-level executive positions.
"Women CEOs are frequently better listeners," Toogood says. "They're more open to new ideas, more prepared to profit from change and quicker than their male peers to spot in-house talent.
"Interestingly, a number of successful women CEOs have recognized the psychological value of retaining their female sexuality and the desirability of keeping themselves physically attractive on their way to the top, as well as when they get there.
"A curious paradox is that many top women managers find it necessary to be self absorbed: tougher and more no-nonsense than their male counterparts on their way up. It's only when they reach the top they can relax and show their true colors as nurturing, attentive leaders embracing the needs of the entire organization.
"Most women understand better than men the need for compassion and love in business - love for employees, love for customers, love for shareholders, and the need to serve them all well."
Toogood has coached managers and CEOs of more than half of the Fortune 100 companies and numerous Blue Chip firms. Among Toogood's clients are General Electric, Sony, Xerox, Andersen Consulting, Chevron USA, GTE, Gulf Oil, CS First Boston, Ingersoll-Rand, Honeywell, Morgan Stanley, New York Life, Blue Cross, Bayer, Ortho Biotech, Warner-Lambert, Pitney Bowes, Prudential and Oracle.
He is author of two other best-selling books, The Articulate Executive:
Learn to Look, Act, and Sound Like a Leader (Carroll & Graf, 1998)
and The Inspired Executive: The Art of Leadership in the Age of Knowledge (McGraw Hill, 1998).
John McLain can be reached at 603-357-7774 and email firstname.lastname@example.org