That is the title of weird interview that just came out in INC this month, which I did with Leigh Buchanan. And the above drawing is by Graham Roumieu.
Here is the story on the INC website. The title is different online than in the print version, they call it "Thoroughly Counterintuitive Approach to Leading."
Leigh is always fun to talk to, and after having done interviews on both The No Asshole Rule and Good Boss, Bad Boss, she has emerged as one of my favorite journalists. For starters, she has such a sense of fun -- most of us involved in doing and working with management are entirely too serious -- I certainly plead guilty. Leigh has the rare ability to talk about real ideas while at the same time conveying the absurdity of so much of organizational life . She is also a great editor. In every interview I have done with her, I've rambled incoherently on for an hour or so, and she somehow put it in a form that made sense.
This new interview a conglomeration of some of the stranger ideas from the various books I have written, especially Weird Ideas That Work along with some new twists. As with weird ideas , I offer these ideas to challenge your assumptions (and my own) and to prompt us all to think. I don't expect you to agree with them (I am not even sure I agree with all of them), but there is actually a fair amount of evidence and theory to support each of these sometimes uncomfortable ideas.
To give you a taste,here is how the interview kicks-off:
Leigh: You and I have been e-mailing about leadership traits, and at one point you suggested, “Good leaders know when to be boring, vague, emotionally detached, and authoritarian.” Under what circumstances might such traits be desirable? Start with boring.
Me: There are two situations in which it’s a good idea to be boring. One is when you’re working on something but, so far, all you’ve got is bad news. Under those circumstances, any outside attention is bad.
Don Petersen was the CEO of Ford after the Iaccoca era, and he was responsible for turning the company around. He told me a story about being invited to speak at the National Press Club. He didn’t want to do it. At the time, Ford had no good cars at all. But he and his PR chief decided he would go and give a speech about the most boring subject they could think of. At the time, that was safety. He practiced speaking in the most boring way possible, using the passive voice and long sentences. He put up charts that were hard to read, and then turned his back to the audience to talk about the charts. After that, the press lost interest in him for a while, so he could concentrate on doing the work.
The other situation is when you’re dealing with controversy. Stanford used to have this brilliant provost, James Rosse. When Jim talked about something like the school’s Nobel Prize winners, he would be animated and exciting and charismatic. But when he had to talk about something like the lack of diversity on campus, he would ramble on for 20 minutes while looking at his feet. I thought it was brilliant
And so it goes. I hope you enjoy and I think Leigh for being such a delight to work with and for reminding me not to take myself so seriously.