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These articles by Melinda Sherwood were published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on October 6, 1999. All rights reserved.
Leaders, Not Managers: Debbie Berman
Contrary to the old adage, leaders are not born, they
are made, and Debbie Berman can tell you how. "I think that
leadership is not something that gets bestowed on you because you
have a title," says Berman, an instructor for Leadership 2000,
a workshop series sponsored by the Rutgers Center for Continuing Professional
Development. "It’s more something that you build and earn, anything
less than that is not true and lasting leadership."
"Coaching: Bringing out the Best in Others," is a Leadership
2000 workshop scheduled on Friday, October 8, at 8:30 a.m. at the
University Inn and Conference Center in New Brunswick. The cost is
$295 for a full day and $150 for a half day. "Giving Recognition,"
a workshop on acknowledging the work of others, will be held on Friday
at 1:30 p.m. Other topics covered in the series through the end of
October: Influencing for Win-Win Outcomes, Moving from Conflict to
Collaboration, Expressing Yourself: Presenting Your Thoughts and Ideas,
Proactive Listening, Personal Strategies for Navigating Change, and
Managing Your Priorities. Call: 732-932-8274.
Berman, who holds a BS in sociology and psychology from the University
of Pennsylvania, Class of 1978, practiced human resources at Citibank
and ADP before starting her own management consulting business. Her
practice is located in Mahwah (E-mail: BZB@carroll.com).
What makes a good leader? "The ability to listen and consider
alternatives," says Berman, "and the ability to inspire and
influence other people." In essence, leaders make wonderful managers,
but unfortunately, not every manager is an effective leader. "We
promote people to managers because they’re technically good,"
says Berman. "We don’t really have guidelines or rule books on
how to lead people."
In the silence, people tend to create their own definition of leadership,
often equating it with dictatorship. That tends to backfire. "The
most effective leaders are the ones who build trust, loyalty, and
respect among their teams," says Berman. "More often they
get what they need." It takes only one Napoleon to capture Europe,
and one tyrant manager to destroy morale throughout a company. "If
a head of a company has an old school mentality and military approach
it does set the tone," says Berman, and all the good leaders are
quashed. "Anyone who goes into an organization with these other
types of values is bucking the system and working doubly hard."
Today, says Berman, managers have to be able to work laterally as
well as vertically. "We don’t have direct hierarchy like we used
to," she says. "It’s department-to-department, peer-to-peer,
so you need to communicate effectively, and get what you need."
For the newly appointed or aspiring manager, Berman outlines the basic
principles to successful leadership:
to have all the answers," says Berman. It may go against the "manager
as God" philosophy, but in most cases, she says, "the person
who is best equipped to solve a problem is the person with the problem.
There’s a benefit in getting people to grow and develop their problem
solving skills." On the other hand, if a person is struggling,
don’t play the `guess the answer in my head’ game.
coach people to find their own information. Ask questions like "What
if" and "What other information do I need" in order to
direct people’s energy, stir the creative juices, and keep your employees
frequently asking the question "What’s in it for them?" Instead
of explaining why a new plan is good from a managerial perspective,
tell those who it will affect why it works for them, too. "If
you’re asking people to do something that’s hard, for example, they’re
going to resist," says Berman. "But if you explain that it
will help them serve their customers better and appear more competent
it will appeal to them."
criticism. Talk about the impact of the negative behavior. Criticizing
the person, says Berman, "doesn’t change anything."
correctly," says Berman, "generates creativity and change.
Thinking out of the box — it really helps people strengthen relationships."
— Melinda Sherwood
What does putting a man on the moon have to do with
running a business? Management expertise that can break through just
about any logistical barrier. The Apollo Space Program is still considered
one of the greatest managerial accomplishments of all time, and fortunately,
the knowledge gained from that extraordinary venture is stockpiled
in books and in the mind of Sid Siegel, a former NASA research
fellow and professor of management and organizational behavior at
Drexel University. "The concept behind the whole NASA research
program is that if the U.S. could be as successful at managing a project
as complicated as landing on the moon, then perhaps that process should
be studied and those management techniques could be applied."
The projected outcome of that mission dictated its place in the management
textbooks. "Probably one of the most unique characteristics about
the Apollo program is the mandate by Kennedy that there would be no
failure because he wasn’t going to risk the lives of the astronauts,"
says Siegel. "It was going to operate with zero defects; everything
was going to work. When you consider that there were a thousand companies
with various subparts, that’s an amazing thing."
For the vast number of companies that employ contract workers for
massive projects, much can still be learned from that era. Many of
the lessons learned have become academic dogma at Drexel, where Siegel
has been on the faculty since 1979. "Motivation and Leadership:
Understanding and Influencing People at Work," will be the topic
of Siegel’s workshop on Tuesday, October 12, at 9 a.m. in the Janice
Levin Building on Rockafeller Road at the Rutgers Center for Management
Development in Piscataway. Cost: $295. Call 732-445-5526.
"It’s designed for anyone whose role in an organization is to
try to get things done through other people," says Siegel. "Many
organizations rely on contractors or contingency workers on their
labor force. That brings up the issue of how do you integrate full
time employees with those who are there for a short time? How do you
deal with the learning curve?"
Siegel holds a BS in mechanical engineering from Duke University,
Class of 1958, and worked for both RCA and Corning Glass Works before
completing a PhD at Drexel, where he specializes in technology, organizational
behavior and management, public administration, and environmental
One of the reasons the moon landing succeeded, says Siegel, is that
the traditional hierarchy was set aside so that the "doers"
could work alongside the managers. "Instead of the traditional
concept of goals being set by the top and the people below having
to implement them," says Siegel, "it was a bottoms-up process,
where they integrated the doers, the people back in the flight centers
who had to carry out plans, with the planners. That created a drive
to make sure the plans work."
The "zero defect" program was accomplished using a basic psychological
principle, says Siegel: "Anyone who has a say in whatever is being
done is more committed generally to making sure that it happens."
Many other management practices were tried during that era. Choosing
the best among them, Siegel suggests managers:
and understand the type of manager you are. "Understand your own
tendencies and be able to step back and realize where they aren’t
appropriate," he says.
different ways to do a job.
"In the end, the success of any manager is going to be determined
by the people that work for her or him," says Siegel. "Even
if you want to look at it selfishly, it behooves you to spend the
most time possible with your people."
many first line supervisors have trouble recognizing that they can’t
behave the same way they did before because now they are part of a
different structure," says Siegel. "It is more important for
your people to respect you than to like you. If you try to run your
organization by having people like you, then any time you have to
do things that people may not like, you will not be comfortable in
treated . The key here is that not everyone needs to be treated
in the same way, says Siegel. "Some people need more supervision,
other people need to be treated more by giving them the ball,"
consensus," Siegel says. "Get people with conflicting viewpoints
together, rather than keeping them apart," and use whatever differences
there are to create a synergistic effect.
nature of the group is that everybody is similar and therefore this
leads to a reinforcement of thinking because everybody agrees,"
them to come up with a decision on what may be a leading car on a
market. Obviously they’re all going to say a Chevy."
Encouraging differing opinions was also a key element to the Apollo
project. "In NASA you weren’t afraid of `group think’ but you
did have to manage it effectively. We may have been just lucky."
To be a good business man or woman, you also have to
be a good artist, scientist, and athlete, says Michael Gelb,
author of "How to Think like Leonardo da Vinci" (Delacorte,
1998, $24.95). "Leonardo was looking for truth and beauty, in
science and art, and that’s a very important skill for people —
to see the big picture."
A short-cut to emulating the classic Renaissance man, the "greatest
genius of all-time," says Gelb, is thinking more like a child.
"Wake up that childlike passion for learning," he says. "People
get more focused on trying to get the right answer rather than continuing
the process of asking questions. You can’t ignore the difficulties,
challenges, and competitive element of our world, but if you get cynical
and cold, and deadened to the world, what’s the point in succeeding?
How can you keep alive that openness, that joie de vivre?"
Gelb, a leader in the field of creative thinking and accelerated learning,
has been teaching workshops at big corporations like General Motors
for the past two decades. His Leonardo theory for gaining a competitive
edge through youthful thinking is the focal point of his presentation
Monday, October 11, at 7:30 p.m. at Bucks County Community College.
Call the Hamilton Partnership, a municipal business organization,
for more information: 609-259-5899.
If there’s any proof that Gelb’s technique to better living through
brighter thinking works, it’s that he’s never held a job he didn’t
like. "I’ve managed to follow my own passions and I continue to
make that relevant to other people," says Gelb, who grew up in
New Jersey and received a BA in psychology and philosophy from Clark
University, Class of 1973. His master’s thesis at Goddard College
turned into Gelb’s first book, "Body Learning," an introduction
to the bodywork technique created by F.M. Alexander. The Alexander
Technique is well known among performing artists who want to learn
how to decompress under stress. "It’s become a trade secret of
the theatrical profession," says Gelb, who is also a professional
juggler. In 1979 a friend asked him to participate in a five-day seminar
for Digital Equipment Corporation, the multinational high-tech company,
and since then Gelb has been teaching employees of big companies how
to enhance their memory, study skills, and creativity.
Leonardo da Vinci, the painter, the architect, and juggler, Gelb points
out, became a touchstone to an ideal in thinking. "I got this
idea about writing a book on Leonardo da Vinci when I was speaking
in Florence," he recalls. "I knew enough about Leonardo, but
to actually deliver the paper meant being open to a lot of uncertainty.
I read through several thousand pages, all the time leaving my mind
open. I didn’t try to solve the problem prematurely. I stayed with
the question. There’s a technique I teach in my book called mind mapping,
and the seven principles came out of that haze, that uncertainty."
The Seven Principles (in Italian and English):
was probably the most curious man who ever lived," says Gelb,
"and that’s why children are such great learners. Children don’t
have that false pride where they’re more concerned about being right
than exploring." Ask the question. The answer will come.
that the five senses are the ministers of your soul," he says.
"I have exercises that help people listen to music, appreciate
art, do wine tastings. It’s really a lot of fun."
terms we call it whole brain thinking," says Gelb.
being an artistic genius, he was also physically gifted, and gave
advice similar to what a holistic doctor might give today," says
Look for the universal themes in everything.
to the hazy mysterious quality in Leonardo’s paintings, like the Mona
Lisa, says Gelb. "What it represents is the idea that if you’re
going to be curious and think for yourself, the result will be more
questions and more uncertainty. And one of the most distinguishing
characteristics of highly creative people is to be open to the unknown.
at a chamber meeting? Only because you will be more effective, says
Gelb. "The external appearance is not important. It’s the quality
of your inner life that’s important," says Gelb. Besides, you’ll
convey an air of mystery that will keep people constantly intrigued.
"The more I studied about Leonardo the greater the mystery became."
Have you always wondered how your favorite charity kept
its books? What percentage of its funds go for frills? A new public
disclosure rule requires that non-profit organizations make copies
of their Form 990 and 990-EZ more readily available to the public,
by providing copies of their three most recent annual returns with
their exempt application to an organization that requests it within
30 days of the request. The rules, in the IRC section 6104 (d), can
be viewed at the http://www.independentsector.org
The Professional Insurance Agents of New Jersey,
which held its 16th Annual Golf Classic on September 13, raised more
money for the Special Olympics of New Jersey this year than in prior
years. The total amount, $29,200, will be used to support year-round
sports training and athletic competition for 12,000 children and adults
with developmental disabilities. Call 800-366-NJSO.
will provide $7.4 million in grants for new computers and technology
in disadvantaged school districts. The ACE program (Access-Collaboration-Equity)
will provide grants ranging from $85,000 to $200,00 to 50 recipients
in the 2000-2001 school year. Prudential will fund a development person
to work with selected schools and identify sources of funding and
in-kind donations, and the business community, through Tech Corps
New Jersey and the Business Coalition for Education Excellence, will
help the schools implement support staff for the computers, which
will go in libraries, housing complexes, schools, and community centers.
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