ISSUE #32

 

A leadership article that helps get a better understanding of interpersonal skills

In this newsletter a major portion deals with interpersonal skills and this is brought out through a leadership article featured here. Dan claims in this leadership article that there is more than one way to do things correctly and these can be separated by common language and methods towards business. He accepts that both are professional and show respect in different ways.

There is a lot of emphasis in this leadership article with regards to human relationships. He says there is only one chance to make a first impression. Dan talks of teamwork among other things and a clear understanding of the goals that need to be achieved which can’t be done alone. His idea of a team is not one of getting along well or liking one another. To emphasize this he has been blunt enough to mention if a friend is needed – buy a dog. Dan uses an article from Financial Times to illustrate what it means to be liked by people. It clearly states that craving respect is fine but wanting to be liked is a serious flaw.

In this leadership article Dan looks at respect from colleagues rather than them liking him. He supports it by saying he is a product of social and economic milieu, intense practice, training with the will and desire to be successful. Dan brings out uses various illustrations where despite being liked by people and respected many a times he has ended in litigation. He also uses incidents from the movie Patton to illustrate various levels of perception.

Drawing examples from his professional life which spreads across 30 years, he talks about the distinct privilege he had working with some of the greatest minds and personalities along with their influence on his life.

Dan mentions in this leadership article that he always doesn’t appreciate being correct but it is experience that counts because of those hundreds of transactions, tens of thousands of business decisions and countless interpersonal business relationships.

He also delves on the various interpersonal aspects related to boss-employer relationships and clearly brings out the various nuances involved. But he also looks at the leadership article with cynicism cause for him at the end of the day respect is far more important! If "like" can be added that’s great. And there are many questions posed which may or may not have answers.

 

30-Apr-02

From Dan Peña – Executive Coach and Mentor to the High Performer.

Dear Subscriber and Friend,

LIKE, RESPECT – STUFF

Recently I have initiated a couple of new business relationships. This fact alone is not unusual. What I thought strange was how one of the individuals has approached the relationship, not saying either is better. After 30 years of business I’ve learned there are more than one way to do things correctly! Both are from different parts of the English speaking (non USA) world, they are separated by a common language and method towards business. Both are professional and both show respect in different ways.

You have heard me say countless times you only get one chance to make a first impression. In the same vain I have said to work successfully as a team, amongst other things, clear understandable goals are mandatory for super success. I have also said you can’t do it alone.

In that vain I have said whilst it is better if ALL members of a team get along it is not mandatory to like one-another or be slap-happy. To emphasize this I have said and have written such things as "if you want a friend – buy a dog".

I enclose part of an article from the Financial Times dated 18th March, 2002 to illustrate what some pundits believe vis-à-vis being liked – I couldn’t agree more!

FROM FINANCIAL TIMES – 18TH MARCH, 2002

Do you like me?
Craving respect is all very well. But wanting to be liked is a serious flaw in a boss.

The other day I was asked to fill in an appraisal form for a friend who is a manager in a big company. What are her strengths, it asked. This was easy. Creative, I wrote. Brilliant communicator. Charismatic. Energetic. Ambitious. Liked by everyone. Charming. Good at coaching others.
Before you contact me for her details, wait. You haven’t heard about her weaknesses. Filling in this section was harder, as it always is. Even if the person isn’t a friend, you aren’t exactly going to admit to their being an egomaniac with a cruel streak.

In her case it was harder still as I genuinely couldn’t think of any weaknesses. However, I knew there must be something – given the extent of her talents it seemed odd that she wasn’t running the country.

And then I realised. Her problem is that she wants people to like her. At first it is not obvious why this should be such a flaw. Surely now that management is meant to be about coaching, motivating and so on, wanting to be liked is an advantage?
But in fact this flaw is almost as bad as being a crazed autocrat. If you actively want people to like you, you are never going to get anywhere.

This is not to say that you have to be an arrogant, insensitive bully to get ahead. It is a good sign if a manager is, on the whole, liked. What is bad is if he cares whether he is liked or not. At the extreme, wanting to be liked too much will ensure that you are not liked at all. These managers fail to take tough decisions. They are not honest in those cases where honesty is called for. They avoid conflict and spend far too much time on charm initiatives.

I have just asked a senior colleague whether he cares whether people like him. Not at all, he said. What he does care about – passionately – is that he is respected and deemed to be doing a good job.

Then he asked me the same question. I admitted that I did actually care a lot whether people liked me. He laughed, assuming I was having him on. This was very bad news for me. To care desperately that people like you and yet to give the impression of not giving a damn – that is some weakness indeed.

WHAT HAPPENED TO LEADERSHIP?

The column is written, I believe, for individuals who aspire to gain positions in the managerial world. It’s title is: "Do You Like Me?" Craving respect is all very well but wanting to be liked is a serious flaw in a boss.

I have, for more than thirty years, said I would rather have colleagues respect than love! Of course it sounds more dramatic using love instead of like, but this is what I mean. I am even less interested in their love!

Not many people in my business career have had overwhelming love/like for me. The few who did/do have been other high performance people who I became very close to over time. Those that will talk freely tell me I am feared by most, but still respected. (At 56 I wish it wasn’t fear. At 36 fear was fine!) I do not do this on purpose NOW – it is merely me. I am a product of my social and economic milieu, intense practice, training and the will and desire to be all that I can be since 1976! I can say with no hesitation even people that I have had a business relationship with, which ended in litigation, all respected my abilities as a businessperson and as Ross Perot says "Dan Peenna (with a Texas drawl) is a beedy eyed biz-nezz (Texan slur) man". Translated to the mere mortals: "Dan is a focused, tough (but fair), businessman". I have always considered that one of my greatest compliments along with some by Constantine Gratsos, Bob Dyke (Father of the North Sea) and Jerry Ormand (a mentor). There are a few things said about me that have touched my (stone) heart – or at least that is the perception. Someday I will write more about that perception of me vis-à-vis me!

A great line in the movie "Patton" illustrates this perception point. After an extremely explosive outburst by Gen. Patton one of his aides says, "Sir, that scared the men, because they don’t know if you were acting or serious!" Patton barks back, "That’s the point. They don’t need to know if it is an act or if I am angry. All they need to do is take action!" I have learned the hard way barking doesn’t work with all people, but is extremely effective with many if and when used judiciously. A simple infliction in my voice works fine for me now.

As many of you know I have had the distinct privilege of working with some of the great minds and personalities in the last 30 years. Fortunately most of these relationships came early in my career, whilst I was learning and growing most. Constantine Gratsos (mentioned above – a mentor to me), former CEO of The Onassis Group and right hand man for Aristotle Onassis for over 50 years, probably had the biggest influence on me. I still remember sitting in Olympic Towers (NYC) as a young man. I used Christine Onassis’s office – she was never there. I had my feet on the credenza gazing down 5th Ave looking at St Patrick’s Cathedral. I used to play with the direct line phone to the White House and The Vatican. It was a dream come true!

I mention this because I had an endless respect for the man. I started our relationship calling him Mr Gratsos, it moved to Constantine and ended with Costa. He always called me Mr. Peña from the beginning to the very end. He was very fond of me, but more importantly he had great respect for my judgement and me though I was relatively young – Hell I was 40 years his junior! Whenever I was on or near the East coast I went through NYC to see him.

Our relationship though friendly was always a little stiff. I better understand this after doing business in Europe and Asia over the last twenty years. I never even thought about liking him, though in hindsight I now know I must have done so very much.

I respected his judgements so much I did things, which I look back upon, that were not possible. I did them because Costa asked me to and didn’t even question the result. I respected his wisdom and experience in business and as a person.

One of the things I say more often than I like to is – "I don’t like always being right (correct)!" It is not like I am so bright (which I am), but because of those hundreds of transactions, tens of thousands of business decisions and countless interpersonal business relationships. There is virtually nothing that I haven’t experienced in business! Ergo when faced with a set of facts and circumstances, almost always, I have been there before. This is the reason for having a mentor and the basis of QLA.

Most people that want to be liked as a boss (forget personal innate insecurity), fear their business acumen doesn’t deserve much respect, so they feel it will make for an easier relationship with colleagues et al. I’ve even seen bosses believe if they are liked, their subordinates will cover for them if they make a mistake, etc. There are too many that would consider such actions as loyalty. Unswerving support is loyalty. Cover-up is not!

At the end of the day respect is far more important! If "like" can be added that’s great, but not necessary for many of the reasons mentioned in the F.T. article and by me in my writings. In some rare cases senior executives/leaders are even loved. Ross Perot, General Patton (Blood & Guts), General Rommel (Desert Fox) and General Montgomery (Monty) are examples that come to mind. These are men that others followed at all costs with virtually no questions. You can’t find a person that has been part of a Ross Perot organisation that wouldn’t walk through fire for him.

There was a book published in the late 60’s named "I’m OK! You’re OK!" It author, Dr. Stein, a noted psychiatrist of that time, put forth the premise virtually anything (short of a heinous act or crime) was OK in a personal relationship. It reminded me of the famous line from the movie "Love Story", when the young man says, "Being in love means never having to say you’re sorry." This remark doesn’t require a response from me though I have wondered how that relates to marriage? Whilst "I’m OK – You’re OK!" was a tremendous literary success it has been proven, like many theories, as Bull! I believe a better book and much more representative was "I’m dysfunctional, You’re dysfunctional", written in the ’90s by Wendy Kaminer which depicts how we are all strange at best and some are merely more screwed up! It was written with Dr Stein’s book in mind.

If today was a contest – how did you do? Did you measure-up? Did you win? Did you accomplish something taking you closer to your goals? If not – why not? Did you live life on purpose?

Remember, as I’ve said and written, my experience is when our life ends it is the things you don’t do that you will regret – not the things you did!

Carpe diem!
To Your Quantum Leap

P.S. We have made a couple of additions to The Guthrie Group (new name after dropping "Castle") though worldwide business has slowed. We have done this to take advantage of the massive amounts of money for deals with good management teams that exists. We are looking to add more! In fact my oldest son, Dan Jr (20) is our Summer intern for The Group at Guthrie. He arrived a few days ago.

P.P.S. I have had recent requests for another personal chat room appearance. I will do it in Mid May. If you have an interest in participating in this "paid-for experience", please notify Paul at [email protected]