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What to Read

In keeping with the idea of leading change this month's book is one I recently read with great interest both because of content as well as its local interest to my hometown of Chicago. "You Can't Order Change" by Peter S. Cohan is an enlightening look at the lessons from Jim McNerney's turnaround at Boeing (headquartered in Chicago). As many readers know, Jim McNerney was one of the finalists to replace Jack Welch at GE. When that did not materialize he headed to 3M where he transformed a lackluster culture to one of focus and purpose as their CEO. As many remember, he took the helm at Boeing in the midst of executive misconduct and government contract scandals.

The book highlights many of Mr. McNerney's leadership philosophies relevant to today's changing economy. Of particular interest to me was his philosophy of helping his people get 15% better. I have always believed that, in the absence of stated improvement goals, 15% improvement was a reliable goal for any well-led team. To do this, Mr. McNerney employs 5 tactics to help the people in his organizations perform more effectively.

  • Define clear leadership attributes - what is defined gets measured and what is measured gets done.
  • Interact with people to jointly own the leadership attributes - lead, listen and link performance to the new desired change.
  • Encourage communication from the bottom up - hear from those who touch the customers routinely.
  • Get rid of progress blockers - the organizational vision is more important than personal agendas.
  • Invest in leadership development - awareness, ownership, empowerment and learning are powerful attributes of the future leaders of the business.

As the title suggests, you can't order change. It must come from motivating people, creating profitable business strategies and empowering the organization operate more effectively, efficiently and productively as Jim McNerney has done successfully on several occasions.

Enjoy the book!.

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