September 22, 2002
Jack Covert Selects: Jack Covert Selects - The Cycle of Leadership
Noel Tichy has written some of the seminal books available on leadership. Among them are The Leadership Engine, Every Business is a Growth Business, and Control Your Destiny or Someone Else Will. This latest book by Tichy, written with Nancy Cardwell, is a real hands-on primer, and its authors mission is two-fold. First, they argue that only companies who think fast and build smart will survive the topsy-turvy nature of the current business climate, and in order to attain and sustain such an approach, those companies must become learning organizations. Then they tell us that in order to become such a company, hiring, supporting, fostering and promoting leaders who teach is imperative. Such a learning approach is exemplified in companies like Home Depot, Southwest Airline, Dell, Ford, GE, and 3M, among others, and how these leaders have developed their business knowledge into teachable points of view. The authors call this exchange a virtuous teaching cycle, explaining early on:
What is new in this book is a critical insight about how leaders create and maintain teams (better teams with smarter people) It is that creating organizations that get smarter and more aligned every day requires an interactive teaching/learning process. It isnt hierarchical teaching. You teach me, and then I teach the people below me. It isnt alternating roles. You teach me something, and then Ill teach you something. Rather it is a process of mutual exploration and exchange during which both the teacher and the learner become smarter. It is synergy. 1+1=3.
In our office, we have a communal idea board. Each employee is encouraged, daily, to write an idea, reminder, success, or notation that other employees can learn or get inspired from. When our manager perused this new book, she immediately wrote, from Tichys introduction, on the board: Everyone teaches, everyone learns, and everyone gets smarter everyday. Remarkably simple, but, a soon-to-be mantra that a small company like mine can use to bolster its position and excite its leaders and employees. It is also one that a large company can use for reorganization and strategic planning. How to start? Well, the authors tell us that [i]t starts with a commitment to continuously improve yourself and others around you. But if that isnt inspiration enough, the final hundred or so pages of the book are a handbook to lead you through the process. I am often asked to recommend books about leadership and I have now found the leadership book with the most complete package for any size organization. This book is another classic from Noel Tichy and will be around for a long time, but dont hesitate to buy it now and get the transformation started.
About Dylan Schleicher
Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.