O Say Can The CEO See?

Some have the gift, others need to learn it. For some it is natural, for others a lifelong challenge. What is “IT?” The ability to read others, one at a time and in a group – to notice their eyes, their body language, their tone. With direct reports and others they see frequently, to learn to interpret the signals and know how to get these people to want what the CEO wants, do what the CEO wishes and to be aligned with it.

Dave Righetti, star pitcher for the Yankees and now the pitching coach fot the San Francisco Giants was interviewed during a World Series game. He was asked how the pitcher was doing ( I think it was Vogelsong). He responded by describing how the pitcher was holding the ball, the height of his shoulder at the top of the arm rotation before letting loose of the ball, the direction of his right foot and the location of the foots-strike after release. And a few more observations. Then he said he can tell how far off a pitcher is from his best condition and, after several pitches in a row, whether he is adjusting enough to leave him in the game. 

Increasingly, observation of players in motion is becoming a science and becoming key to winning. In the movies, there is a technique called “mo-cap,” motion capture in which actors wearing wired lights dance, run walk and otherwise move and the camera captures every detail. The recording can then be used to simulate human motion in a digital character.

Now there is an advanced version of mo-cap without the wires and lights. Cameras trained on, say, the right fielder capture where he positions himself before a pitch, how soon after the ball is hit he determines the direction in which to run, how he adjusts his run to the correct place to catch the ball and other details depending on stretches, diving catches, slides et al. The video is then analyzed to determine how to make the fielder do better, which players are better or worse on defense against which type of batter and more. In the same way that “Moneyball” showed the arrival of statistical analysis in baseball (as it is in football and every other field of sport and athletics), reading the people is a key to winning.

So it is in the C-suite and on the road. What does the CEO notice when he is speaking? What does he notice when he listens? What do others notice when he speaks or listens?

These are no longer incidental to success, especially in global settings and with generational differences between the boss and the others (in either direction of age!).

That’s just my view. What’s yours?

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What Made jack welch JACK WELCH

How Ordinary People Become
Extraordinary Leaders

by Stephen H. Baum (Random House)

Most leaders of American companies started out as ordinary people. What prepared them for the top job?

Countless more ordinary people of equal talent never developed the leadership core required to run the show. Why not?

"Lessons for life about the core leadership traits of character, risk taking decisiveness and the ability to engage and inspire followers."
--Jim Clifton, CEO, The Gallup Organization


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