One of my most popular posts from July 8, 2013 Harvard Business School Professor John P. Kotter Years […]
Humility and Leadership Go Hand in Hand
There is a fundamental truth here. Pope Francis and the Harvard Business School are aligned.
Stanford Graduate School of Business and Harvard Business School are adopting drastically different strategies for delivering business education. These differing strategies are reflected in the debate that has erupted between two of Harvard Business School’s best known professors and their visions for the future of business education, Michael Porter and Clayton Christensen. I have also been personally tire kicking MOOC’s, acting as a mentor for Stanford’s online Technology Entrepreneurship course, hosted by NovoEd. I have been pleasantly surprised by the experience, and among the teams I am mentoring is a group of Xerox senior research scientists acting as an entrepreneurial team.
I personally have seen in my past career, and personally experienced how simple humility is a key characteristic of leadership. This may seem counter-intuitive but it is not. People are drawn to the charisma of a leader who is also simply humble, and who appreciates the values of those he or she leads. A leader like that can get subordinates to follow them anywhere. I think there may even be an inverse relationship in human behavior between hubris, and leadership success. By that I mean that the more arrogant and overbearing a person, the more insecure he may actually be, and therefore less successful in the subjective art of leadership.
In a bizarre sequence of events this week, I have yet again witnessed someone literally self-destruct as a leader due to their failure to exhibit simple humility and to be aware of other stakeholders, whose support or not, could make or break the leader.. Successful leadership is a fragile thing, a subjective human experience. I have written about this phenomenon previously on this blog.
As the pressure on struggling Silicon Valley companies Yahoo, and now Hewlett-Packard have increased, the pressure on telecommuting has increased. Now, Meg Whitman, CEO of Hewlett-Packard has joined Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer in calling HP’s telecommuting employees back to work. The problem seems to be that telecommuting employees are now being perceived like recipients of food stamps and welfare: freeloaders taking advantage of corporations, being less productive and costing corporations more than they are worth.
Baseball players, particularly pitchers, are known for being superstitious. These superstitions have been immortalized by characters like Pedro Cerrano, the Cuban center fielder and his doll Joboo, in the film Major League. Real life examples abound. But it now turns out that research has shown that following personal rituals may increase your self-confidence and actually help you ace a job interview or a big presentation.
I have a UBC Management student who is an excellent coder. He picked up his skills on his own, probably as far back as junior high school. But in talking with him now, he says that he hates coding. I told him that was perfectly normal and acceptable. Not everyone is cut out to be hacker. But I did emphasize to him that his experience and skills in the world of software would serve him well in his management career. It is my firm belief that not enough emphasis is placed on these skills in the Brave New World of management, rapidly morphing into one Big Data, Cloud, and Smart Mobile hairball. We can argue when, where and by whom it should be taught, but I urge all of my students to consider developing some of these skills, as being important to their management success. In the attached HBR Blog Network article below, students were polled as to the usefulness of one Harvard basic undergraduate course in computer science. My most important take away from that poll was the response from many students, that while they could not code and were not particularly technical, taking the course improved their confidence in dealing with engineering types, software development issues, the Web, and technical computing matters generally. I had the great good fortune to begin my career in the early days of Intel, but without any technical training. I thank my lucky stars for the education that Intel provided me. That kind of process is no longer feasible.