The Star Factor: A book review by Bob Morris

Posted on: December 3rd, 2013 by bobmorris

Star FactorThe Star Factor: Discover What Your Top Performers Do Differently–and Inspire a New Level of Greatness in All
William Seidman and Richard Grbavac
AMACOM (2013)

How and why to adopt and adapt an Affirmative Leadership Program

As William Seidman and Richard Grbavac explain in the Introduction, they organized the material in this book as follows: Chapters 1-8 explain how to develop an Affirmative Leadership program in any organization, whatever its size and nature may be; Chapters 9-11 provide mini-case studies of programs (i.e. Comptech, DigiAd, LocalPower, and FlexChip) for C-level executives, first-line managers, and individual contributors; the final chapter “is about the bottom line in two sense: the impact of Affirmative Leadership programs on attitudes and behaviors as well as on the financial results they produce.

Affirmative Leadership is best understood as a matrix of multidimensional synergies between and among four separate but related sciences: Positive Deviance, Fair Process, Neuroscience, and Mass Customization. “It gives organizations both a model for leadership that is particularly effective in the real world of uncertainty and speed as well as a methodology for developing more and better leaders.” All organizations need effective leadership at all levels and in all areas of the given enterprise. If for whatever reasons those who read this book decide that Affirmative Leadership is not for them, fine. However, the fact remains that every organization needs a model and methodology that are cohesive, comprehensive, and cost-effective.

These are among the dozens of business subjects and issues of special interest and value to me, also listed to indicate the scope of Seidman and Grbavac’s coverage.

o The Affirmative Leadership Methodology (Pages 6-9)
o Your Stars (18-21)
o Unconscious Competence, and, Engaging Stars (24-28)
o Path to Mastery — The Big Steps (35-40)
o Learning Experiences (43-46)
o Converting Raw Experiences Into Effective Learning Tasks 50-57)
o Measuring Success (57-59)
o The Neuroscience of Learning (70-73)
o Building Motivation Through Collective Purpose (77-84)
o Principles: Defining Greatness in the First Big Step (89-92)
o Working On Each Big Step (119-122)
o Basic Scaling Infrastructure (133-136)
o Affirmative Leadership and Self-Directed Learning (100-105)
o Step-by-Step Building Scalable Infrastructure, and, Extraordinary Scaling (142-148)
o Wisdom Discovery (174-185)
o An Exemplary Culture (214-219)

Let’s conclude by examining the claims in its final paragraph:

“We say the Affirmative Leadership approach efficiently and with surprisingly little effort from participants creates a culture in which every person aspires to and achieves greatness.”

Those organizations in greatest need of what William Seidman and Richard Grbavac offer in this uniquely valuable book will need far more involvement and engagement by their people than “surprisingly little effort” will produce. It is naive to believe otherwise.

“Everyone becomes as good as their very best.”

Most CEOs would settle for “almost everyone” and presumably they would expect continuous improvement as the Affirmative Leadership program (or another of comparable quality) is itself strengthened over time.

” When everyone in an organization in an organization becomes an Affirmative Leader, the synergy and energy create an extraordinarily exciting and productive culture of greatness.”

No doubt but sustaining greatness, for individuals as well as for organizations, is a far greater challenge than is achieving it. Those who read this book would be well-advised to keep two observations in mind. First, from Marshall Goldsmith: “What got you here won’t get you there.” And then from Richard Dawkins: “Yesterday’s dangerous idea is today’s orthodoxy and tomorrow’s cliché.”

[Note: The Star Factor has won the silver medal for the leadership category of Axion Best Business Books.]

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