Orrin Woodward LIFE Leadership Team

Winner of the 2011 Independent Association of Business Top Leader Award; Orrin Woodward shares his leadership secrets.

Noel Tichy – Leaders Developing Leaders

Posted by Orrin Woodward on March 3, 2008

Here is a superb interview with Noel Tichy from Computerworld in 2006.  I believe Dr. Tichy captures the essence of the Team difference in this interview.  The leaders on the Team have developed a Teachable Point of View (TPOV) and recognize that true leadership is developing other leaders.  This is one of the main reasons why I believe we will go to millions of people—the leaders recognize their calling is to build others as well as themselves.  I love the quote by Dr. Tichy, “The job of a leader is to win today while making the organization better for tomorrow.”  Are you developing as a leader?  As a leader, are you developing other leaders?  The Team is Launching a Leadership Revolution and it starts with you!  How many parallels do you see between what Professor Tichy teaches and what the Team teaches?  God Bless, Orrin Woodward


A lot of leadership advice is too high-minded to be readily applied. But not the advice of Noel Tichy, former head of General Electric Co.’s famed leadership development center, Crotonville, as well as a professor of organization and management at the University of Michigan. Tichy has also written many leadership books, including Cycle of Leadership and The Leadership Engine. Tichy’s focus is on what leaders can do to ensure that they develop other leaders while still yielding a business return. Computerworld contributing writer Mary Brandel asked Tichy to pass along some wisdom to today’s IT leaders.


What is the best thing a leader can do?


Be a teacher and develop other leaders while the organization keeps winning. The worst people in the world to do this are consultants, professionals and training staff. It is up to the leaders of an organization to be the teachers. Only small minorities of leaders do this, but the ones who do are role models. And they don’t teach Harvard Business School cases; they get their leaders to work on real projects as part of their development. This is what former CEO Jack Welch and now Jeff Immelt at GE do. GE has sent teams to Southeast Asia to look for acquisitions and to Korea to assess the GE strategy. Roger Enrico, former CEO at PepsiCo, sponsored over 200 growth projects at Pepsi that resulted in over $2 billion in new revenue growth.


What is the worst thing a leader can do?


Not develop other leaders. We have a terrible track record in the U.S. on this front. At the CEO level, it means not having a successor, thus indicating a broken leadership pipeline. Think of the examples: John Akers gets fired at IBM, and they have to go outside the organization to get Gerstner. Merck had to go outside and get Ray Gilmartin, who failed. HP went outside twice: Fiorina, who failed, and then Hurd came in from NCR. The job of a leader is to win today while making the organization better for tomorrow.


What is the most important lesson you’ve learned as a leader of leaders?


I learned the most from Jack Welch at GE. In the mid-1980s, I left the University of Michigan for two years to transform the GE Leadership Development Center — then a 30-year-old corporate university — into an action learning platform for change. Then, because the center only dealt with about 5,000 of GE’s 320,000 employees per year, we needed ways of getting everyone engaged, so Welch and a team of us launched Work-Out, a program in which line executives ran their own workshops on leading change. We also developed a program that prepared the top 10,000 GE leaders to teach and lead change. The point is that organizations need multiple mechanisms of leading and teaching that along the way must yield growth and/or productivity improvements.


What is the most important thing you try to teach leaders?


I try to teach them to articulate what I call their “teachable point of view.” That is, what are their strategic ideas for their organization? What values do they expect members of the organization to exhibit? What is their emotional energy, in terms of energizing thousands of people around their ideas and values? And what is their edge — how do they plan to make the tough yes/no calls on business and people issues? In addition, I help them design and prepare them to teach multiday workshops with their own people.

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