Tuesday, June 16, 2009
The most important goal of The Wall Street Journal Europe Future Leadership Institute is to bridge university and industry. Much of the topics related to this goal are in synchronization with the education goals of the Lisbon Strategy, a strategy of the European Community originally aimed at making the European Union the most competitive economy in the world by 2010 (since then the below is being updated given the recent signing of the Treaty of Lisbon). Although there are some inconsistencies with the goals of the Lisbon Strategy and the actions and results achieved on the field, The Wall Street Journal Europe Future Leadership Institute supports the goals of the Lisbon Strategy.
We will look into 5 questions explaining the importance of the educational goals of the European Community related to the goals of The Wall Street Journal Europe Future Leadership Institute.
1. What is the Lisbon Strategy ?
2. What is the Research and Development Programme ?
3. What is the European Research Area (ERA) ?
4. What is the Treaty of Lisbon ?
5. What is the viewpoint of The Wall Street Journal Europe Future Leadership Institute ?
1. What is the Lisbon Strategy ?
During the meeting of the European Council in Lisbon (March 2000), the Heads of State or Government launched a "Lisbon Strategy" aimed at making the European Union (EU) the most competitive economy in the world and achieving full employment by 2010. This strategy, developed at subsequent meetings of the European Council, rests on three pillars:
An economic pillar preparing the ground for the transition to a competitive, dynamic, knowledge-based economy. Emphasis is placed on the need to adapt constantly to changes in the information society and to boost research and development.
A social pillar designed to modernise the European social model by investing in human resources and combating social exclusion. The Member States are expected to invest in education and training, and to conduct an active policy for employment, making it easier to move to a knowledge economy.
An environmental pillar, which was added at the Göteborg European Council meeting in June 2001, draws attention to the fact that economic growth must be decoupled from the use of natural resources.
A list of targets has been drawn up with a view to attaining the goals set in 2000. Given that the policies in question fall almost exclusively within the sphere of competence of the Member States, an open method of coordination (OMC) entailing the development of national action plans has been introduced. Besides the broad economic policy guidelines, the Lisbon Strategy provides for the adaptation and strengthening of existing coordination mechanisms: the Luxembourg process for employment, the Cardiff process for the functioning of markets (goods, services and capital) and the Cologne process on macroeconomic dialogue.
The mid-term review held in 2005, for which a report was prepared under the guidance of Wim Kok, former Prime Minister of the Netherlands, showed that the indicators used in the OMC had caused the objectives to become muddled and that the results achieved had been unconvincing.
For this reason, the Council has approved a new partnership aimed at focusing efforts on the achievement of stronger, lasting growth and the creation of more and better jobs. As far as implementation is concerned, the coordination process has been simplified. The integrated guidelines for growth and employment will henceforth be presented jointly with the guidelines for macroeconomic and microeconomic policies, over a three-year period. They serve as a basis both for the Community Lisbon Programme and for the National Reform Programmes. This simplification in programming makes it possible to monitor implementation more closely by using one single progress report.
The Lisbon strategy has defined 8 program area’s:
Broad economic policy guidelines (BEPG)
European Employment Strategy (EES)
Open method of coordination
Research and development
The programme area of interest to The Wall Street Journal Europe Future Leadership Institute is: Research and development
2. What is the Research and Development Programme ?
Research and development policy is one of the European Union's priorities, at the heart of the Lisbon Strategy to boost employment and growth in Europe. Research, with education and innovation, forms the "knowledge triangle", which it is hoped will allow Europe to maintain its economic dynamism and social model. The Seventh Framework Programme for Research (2007–2013) seeks to consolidate the European Research Area (ERA) and stimulate the national investment needed to reach the target of 3% of GDP.
Moreover, the creation of a European Institute of Technology by 2009 should enable European excellence to fully take shape.
Coordination of research and development initiatives within the Community is based on various instruments:
The framework programmes for research and technological development. These multi-annual programmes, introduced in 1984, encompass more specific programmes covering fields as varied as information and communication technologies, the environment, biotechnology, energy (including nuclear power), transport and mobility of researchers. The Seventh Framework Programme (2007–13) has the largest budget since the creation of a European research identity. It responds to the needs of industry and of European policies, placing knowledge at the service of economic, social and environmental progress.
The Joint Research Centre (JRC) — the research body which supports the action of the Union — is made up of eight research establishments distributed in the European Community which meet the specific needs of the various policies of the European Commission. It is at the forefront of research in nuclear energy (especially safety) and has diversified into sectors such as materials, the environment, industrial risks and satellites. It is funded through the EU framework programmes for research and by its own earnings from commercial contracts.
European research and development policy is based on provisions in the three founding treaties (ECSC, Euratom and Title XVIII of the EC Treaty). The Single European Act introduced the concept of technology into Community law and the Treaty on European Union (EU Treaty) then developed the Community's objectives in this field.
See: European Research Area (ERA)
3. What is the European Research Area (ERA) ?
The European Research Area brings together all of the Community's resources to better coordinate research and innovation activities at the level of both the Member States and the European Union.
This concept was launched by the Commission in 2000 with the idea of developing truly attractive opportunities for researchers.
Previously, research at European level had faced numerous difficulties: fragmentation of activities, isolation of national research systems, disparity of regulatory and administrative frameworks, and low levels of investment in knowledge.
Through the resources made available, the ERA should make it possible to share data, compare results, carry out multi-disciplinary studies, transfer and protect new scientific knowledge and gain access to centres of excellence and state-of-the-art equipment.
The European research area should thus fulfil an ambition of determining value for the European Union, namely to develop a genuine common research policy.
The above is being updated given the recent signing of the Treaty of Lisbon.
4. What is the Treaty of Lisbon ?
Taking Europe into the 21st century
The Treaty signed by the Heads of State or Government of the 27 Member States in Lisbon on 13 December 2007 will provide the EU with modern institutions and optimised working methods to tackle both efficiently and effectively today's challenges in today's world. In a rapidly changing world, Europeans look to the EU to address issues such as globalisation, climatic and demographic changes, security and energy. The Treaty of Lisbon will reinforce democracy in the EU and its capacity to promote the interests of its citizens on a day-to-day basis.
Europe is not the same place it was 50 years ago, and nor is the rest of the world.
In a constantly changing, ever more interconnected world, Europe is grappling with new issues: globalisation, demographic shifts, climate change, the need for sustainable energy sources and new security threats. These are the challenges facing Europe in the 21st century.
Borders count for very little in the light of these challenges. The EU countries cannot meet them alone. But acting as one, Europe can deliver results and respond to the concerns of the public. For this, Europe needs to modernise. The EU has recently expanded from 15 to 27 members; it needs effective, coherent tools so it can function properly and respond to the rapid changes in the world. That means rethinking some of the ground rules for working together.
The treaty signed in Lisbon on 13 December 2007 sets out to do just that. When European leaders reached agreement on the new rules, they were thinking of the political, economic and social changes going on, and the need to live up to the hopes and expectations of the European public. The Treaty of Lisbon will define what the EU can and cannot do, and what means it can use. It will alter the structure of the EU’s institutions and how they work. As a result, the EU will be more democratic and its core values will be better served.
This new treaty is the result of negotiations between EU member countries in an intergovernmental conference, in which the Commission and Parliament were also involved. The treaty will not apply until and unless it is ratified by each of the EU’s 27 members. It is up to each country to choose the procedure for ratification, in line with its own national constitution.
According to Article 6 of the Treaty of Lisbon, "this Treaty shall enter into force on 1 January 2009, provided that all the instruments of ratification have been deposited, or, failing that, on the first day of the month following the deposit of the instrument of ratification by the last signatory State to take this step. Currently, 26 Member States have already approved the Treaty and 23 have deposited their ratification instruments in Rome.
5. What is the viewpoint of The Wall Street Journal Europe Future Leadership Institute ?
The essence of the Lisbon Strategy is “ to become the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world, capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion. ”
One of the elements to reach the goals of the Lisbon Strategy is “ Modernisation of Europe’s universities [is] a core condition for the success of the Lisbon Strategy [and] part of the wider move towards an increasingly global and knowledge-based economy.”
But what are universities for ?
• The pursuit of knowledge
• Education: the formation of human capital and the engine of upward social mobility
• Scientific research and innovation – through human capital
• Capitalizing university research: the “Entrepreneurial University”
How to measure the impact of universities in the “knowledge” economy ?
For example: % of working age population that attained tertiary education:
OECD Average 26
– Degree production system ?
– What skills? Matching degrees with jobs
– Incentives for rational choice? (bottleneck jobs)
– Education and the entrepreneurial spirit?
– Degrees or PhDs?
Problems with Lisbon strategy:
- National Competencies: EU depends on MS to implement Lisbon strategy
- Several EU-countries struggle with ‘more and better jobs’ guidelines
- Focus on easiest goal: spend more money on R&D (Barcelona R&D target became core of Lisbon strategy)
- Spending target is easy compared to establishing a reform process
Lisbon and the importance on research:
By 2010: 3 % National GDP > R&D
– 1 % government
– 2 % private
2005: EU-27: 1,84 % GDP > R&D
2004: US: 2,68 % GDP > R&D
2004: Japan: 3,18 % GDP > R&D
2005: Sweden: 3,86 % GDP > R&D
2005: China: 1,34 % (but comes from 0,95 % in 2001)
Research as % of tertiary education:
PhD participation Total As % tertiary education % Science and Engineering
Belgium 07.014 3,3 0,44
Czech Republic 23.282 7,3 0,51
Spain 76.895 4,2 0,25
Austria 15.524 6,5 0,30
Finland 21.207 7,1 0,40
Sweden 22.460 5,2 0,42
United Kingdom 89.378 4 0,41
Switzerland 15.850 8,1 0,39
United States 375.642 2,2
In % of GDP for tertiary education / Research + Education (only education)
2004 2000 1995
• Belgium 1,2 (0,80) 1,3 -
• The Netherlands 1,3 (0,8) 1,2 1,4
• Denmark 1,8 (1,35) 1,3 1,6
• Sweden 1,8 (0,9) 1,6 1,6
• Finland 1,8 (1,1) 1,7 1,9
• Korea 2,3 (2,03) 2,6 -
• US 2,9 (2,03) 2,7 2,4
• UK 1,1 (0,85) 1,0 1,2
• Ireland 1,2 (0,86) 1,5 1,3
• Italy 0,9 (,055) 0,9 0,7
• Switzerland 1,6 (0,93) 1,1 0,9
• Relative expenditures on tertiary education fall back in Belgium, Finland, Norway, Netherlands, UK and Ireland (and remain low in Germany and France)
• Universities are not able anymore to cover all technological and economical developments in society. Knowledge intensive multinationals have outgrown universities. Universities have to be selective and must specialize.
• Relationship between state owned universities and state owned companies has deteriorated.
• Researchers in multinationals have been educated at universities ! (Probably core task of universities)
• Universities in Europe are under-financed.
• An economy is not a mechanical construction in which an increased input of R&D will lead to an increased output of GDP
• Companies automatically invest in R&D given market conditions. The current level of R&D spending in Europe reflects reality in supply and demand.
• An increase in R&D spending will only lead to more GDP if government reshapes at the same time a set of parameters to make economical climate more attractive for entrepreneurs and investors.
• Ireland: According to Eurostat research: Ireland invested less in R&D than average of EU-15, but became Europe’s richest country between 1997 and 2003. Therefore wealth is not primarily the result of R&D spending, but the result of government actions in reshaping market conditions for innovators and investors (tax system, bureaucracy, procedures, …)
• Innovation is not necessarily linked to R&D. Innovation is often the result of smart thinking in a dynamic organisation, based on existing knowledge. Investing in management, organisation, leadership and labour processes will lead to innovative behaviour (social innovation).
Most important information sources for most innovative companies in EU (Eurostat 81/2007)
Internal University Public R&D Customer
• EU-27 45,7 % 3,6% 2,7% 26,7%
• Belgium 54,7% 3,8% 2,3% 38,9%
• Denmark 56,2% 3,3% 0,5% 33,4%
• Germany 53,3% 3,4% 0,5% 35,0%
• Netherlands 45,0% 2,6% 2,0% 27%
• Finland 56,9% 4,9% 2,4% 38,1%
Relationship universities and innovative companies
Eurostat research 2002 – 2004:
• Industry doesn’t use universities as primary source to innovate.
• Industry claims conferences, journals and associations are more important sources to innovate than universities.
• > Ties between industry and university have to be strengthened !! (See WSJE Future Leadership Institute)
• > Innovations of most companies are not related to R&D, but to social innovations (creativity)
• > Mansfield: 1975 – 1994: R&D at universities was responsible for only 8 a 9 % of all product innovations and only 7 % of all process innovations in US.
Lisbon, research or education ?
• US: SPECIALISATION: 3.300 Universities > 215 have right to issue postgraduate degrees > less than 100 are R&D universities (with public funding) (SELECTIVE structure)
• US Universities: focus on excellence >< Europe Universities: focus on equality
• Europe: 2000 Universities: most of them have post graduate degrees, most of them apply for R&D grants.
• US universities are industry’s primary source of people with research training and experience … universities are the only places where advanced research and education are integrated on a large scale…
Paradise for Brains on the Move
• The global war for mobile human capital
• Science and Technology
– % of foreign science and technology students: US 25 – EU 5
– 400.000 EU S&T graduates live and work in the US
• Human capital makes the difference
– US: 40% of PhDs in 2006 to non-citizens
– Silicon Valley: 50+% of graduating foreign students become involved in start-ups
• Universities: an international challenge!
• Europe: Strengthen ties between Industry and University
• Lisbon: investing 3 % of GDP in R&D by 2010 will not automatically lead to increase of wealth. Extra measures are necessary such as investment in economical climate, bureaucracy, entrepreneurship.
• Currently EU universities are creating scientists who are leaving the universities to innovate at multinationals. Multinationals have outdrawn universities in the game of innovation, leading to wealth. Increased investment in R&D at universities will not automatically lead to more innovation in society (too much general universities).
• EU Universities are underfinanced compared to US and others
For more information on the Lisbon Strategy and the viewpoints of The Wall Street Journal Europe Future Leadership Institute, contact Gert Van Mol, firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday, June 15, 2009
It is no secret Kris Peeters, Minister President of Flanders, thinks Flanders does need his proper domain name. Deloitte has been asked to make a study of the project.
If Flanders engages in creating a Flanders domain name chances are it will be
a community based domain name, like .cat for Catalonia. .Cat is a TLD (top level domain) that wants to protect and promote Catalan culture. You can only acquire a .cat domain name if you have at least 1 page in the Catalan language on your website.
Another aspect regarding the Flanders domain name is the kind of extension: it will probably be a gTLD (generic top level domain), and not a ccTLD (country code top level domain)(like .be for Belgium for example). What immediately leads to another problem. Flanders doesn't have registrars accredited by ICANN for gTLD's. This means that the Flanders domain name would only be sold by foreign registrars.
People close to the matter expect Flanders to close the study by the end of this year. There is an information session for all companies and people interested in the matter today Monday 15-6-2009 in Brussels, Auditorium Boudewijngebouw, Boudewijnlaan 30, 1000 Brussels.
15.30 - 16.30: Presentation Bart Lieben (Laga, dotBrand)
16.30 - 17.00: Q&A
Tel: +32 (0) 2 553 55 86
Mobile: +32 (0) 474 357 951
On development of human capital and migration management for more competitive European regions.
Having evaluated the problems of human capital and migrations, and their pivotal role in achieving stronger, knowledge-based competitiveness, EREF-2009 and its preparatory workshops came to the following conclusions:
In line with their role in implementation of Lisbon Agenda, European regions and local communities should take a more proactive attitude on all aspects of human resource policies, including migration management, and share their good practice with other regions and countries. In fact, as most of the Lisbon targets in education will not be achieved at EU level by 2010 and we should invigorate our efforts to achieve better results, and be inspired by the performance of Nordic countries.
1. The Bologna Process is advancing much too slowly. Education and training systems are not sufficiently student-centered, and do not involve students in all stages of the process. There should be much more emphasis on encouraging Life Long Learning. Also, there is an urgent need to increase public, as well as private funding of education activities, but at the same time curricula should be adjusted, teaching methods modernized, and much stronger links should be established between universities, business and research institutes. This process should be in line with the primary function of modern education which is to encourage and develop young peoples' creativity and drive for innovation.
E-learning in all forms and formats should be supported by policy-making bodies at all levels, as well as in companies – particularly in SMEs -- and in other organisations, being an important instrument of formal and informal education.
2. In order to stop the long lasting brain drain and achieve a more balanced brain circulation European countries and regions should put in place policies allowing them to compete with countries and regions, benefitting from intensive brain gain, as for example US, Canada and Australia.
Due to its demographic deficit Europe will continue need also an influx of less qualified migrants in order to keep its economic potential fully engaged. Therefore immigration policies should be more effectively harmonized with development strategies and better coordinated among EU member states.
3. Thanks to the development of the efficient systems of communications with diaspora, based on mutual interest and respect, the countries and regions of emigration can at least partly reduce the damage, caused by losing their valuable, highly skilled people. For this purpose national and regional authorities should encourage and support various knowledge and business networks – respecting their full independence.
The EREF Process will continue strengthening its efforts to contribute to the preparation of the countries and regions of South Eastern Europe for EU membership. By fulfilling the Copenhagen criteria these countries enhance their own development, and will contribute to a more competitive Europe.
At the closure of EREF-2009 it was decided that EREF-2010 will address the topic of
"Competencies and values for sustainable and knowledge based competitiveness:
A New Agenda for European Regions"
and will take place in Nova Gorica on 7 and 8 June, 2010.
EREF Network members, partners, and organizers are invited to start early the necessary preparations and involve all relevant institutions at regional, national, EU, and international level for a successful 6th Forum, and productive preparatory and associated activities.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Tuesday, June 09, 2009
Saturday, June 06, 2009
"Everything I Know about Leadership, I Learned From the Movies."
A look at 10 films that can help teach you how to inspire your organization, earn loyalty and respect from employees, turn crises into triumph, and become a successful member of a community.
By Mike Hofman from INC Magazine
Want to inspire your organization? Earn the undying loyalty of employees? Turn crises into triumphs? Start by renting these 10 videos.
Every year around Christmas, Susan Schreter takes a refresher course in leadership. Her teacher is always the same: George Bailey, the sweetly earnest hero of It's a Wonderful Life, who risks his livelihood to prove that compassionate banking need not be an oxymoron. "Every time I see that movie, I want to be more like George," says Schreter, CEO of Coupons4Everything.com, a Seattle-based start-up that offers coupons and rebates for consumer goods over the Web. "He reminds me that the important thing is to be respected, not as a rich entrepreneur but as a socially minded, successful member of a community."
Schreter's paean to the saint of Bedford Falls came in response to a recent Inc. survey that asked small-company CEOs and senior executives to name the movies that inspired business leaders best. The question isn't a frivolous one: movies -- like Shakespeare -- are becoming a staple of business school curricula, as professors screen Wall Street to teach ethics and leaven Tom Peters with Tom (Jerry Maguire) Cruise. "Films are a catalyst. They present dramatic problems, crises, and turnarounds," explains John K. Clemens, who incorporates works like Hoosiers and Citizen Kane into his graduate management and executive education courses at Hartwick College, in Oneonta, N.Y., and is the coauthor of Movies to Manage By: Lessons in Leadership from Great Films (NTC/Contemporary Publishing Group, 1999). "Films beg to be interpreted and discussed, and from those discussions businesspeople come up with principles for their own jobs."
Academic validation notwithstanding, we expected the cold shoulder when we recently asked approximately 100 readers to don Roger Ebert hats. Company builders, after all, are generally too busy to haunt the local cineplex, let alone mull the business implications of what they might see there. Or so we thought. To our surprise, almost two-thirds of those surveyed responded, many almost immediately. Some wrote or called several times to tweak their lists, while others left impassioned voice mail messages extolling their favorites. "If you haven't seen it, rent it today," these messages almost invariably concluded.
A few respondents described movies that had influenced their professional lives. One CEO said that Baby Boom, in which Diane Keaton trades the corporate piranha pool for motherhood and a gourmet baby food start-up, inspired her to go into business for herself. Another used insights gleaned from the Bill Murray comedy What About Bob? -- about a psychiatric patient tormenting his shrink -- to help him cope with a problem employee.
More often, however, readers praised films that grapple with ethical and personal quandaries played out by realistically nuanced characters. "The best leadership films deal with the fundamentals, such as the presence or absence of integrity and trust," says Clemens. "In Citizen Kane, for example, you see the classic trajectory of early integrity followed by its loss as the character climbs the power grid. In Dead Poets Society, Keating, an English teacher at a prep school, is fired, and there's a suicide. But he has enormous integrity. And at the end you have to ask yourself, 'Did he succeed or fail?' -- which is a wonderful question for anyone interested in leadership."
Readers, no doubt, will disagree with the inclusion of some of the films listed here and become apoplectic over the exclusion of others. But that's to be expected. As the Academy Awards remind us each year: Filmmaking is both an art and a science. Film ranking is neither.
Apollo 13 (1995)
From our readers' enthusiastic responses, we have to conclude that Apollo 13 's signature line, "Failure is not an option," has worked its way into at least half the mission statements in corporate America. And why not? The astronauts and ground personnel in Ron Howard's space opera provide levelheaded, creative leadership during a harrowing crisis. And if there's a better example out there of managing a far-flung organization (Texas, Florida, outer space), we haven't found it.
Gene Kranz (Ed Harris), in charge of flight operations in Houston, and Jim Lovell (Tom Hanks), commander of the 1970 Apollo lunar mission, share leadership duties when there's an explosion on Lovell's craft. These aren't guys with big dreams and inspirational personalities; they're guys with an urgent problem that can be solved only through teamwork, ingenuity, and clearheaded direction. And they supply those attributes in spades. Kranz drives his team of wired, bleary-eyed technicians to ever greater lengths of inventiveness ("I suggest you gentlemen invent a way to put a square peg in a round hole, rapidly"), and Lovell oversees the implementation of the ground crew's ideas by men under the most horrific stress imaginable.
Think creatively. Keep your head. Manage communication. And as for failure, well, that's just not an option.
But the film is also about the role communication plays in leadership, a subject both Kranz and Lovell appear to have thought through carefully. By squelching intraoffice and intracapsule arguments, never sharing incomplete or alarmist data, and maintaining a constant verbal -- and emotional -- lifeline between those on the ground and those off it, they maintain maximum control in a chaotic situation. That, in turn, inspires confidence among both crews. It's a crucial point: leaders certainly desire loyalty and passion, but if they fail to win their followers' confidence first, well, failure is not an option.
The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
No study of leadership is complete without a lesson in hubris, and no one did hubris quite like the British Empire, particularly in its declining years. The sad consequences of that overweening confidence are chronicled brilliantly by David Lean in films ranging from A Passage to India to The Bridge on the River Kwai. The latter is the story of a British regiment building a strategic railroad bridge for its Japanese captors during World War II.
When execution takes priority over strategy, the results can't help being catastrophic.
Hubris, in Kwai, is personified by Colonel Nicholson (Alec Guinness), the proud but rigid British officer who directs the construction project. Like many great managers, Nicholson exhibits formidable skills of organization and implementation. But like many flawed leaders, he never ponders the ends toward which those skills are applied. Nicholson dives into the project with gusto, marshaling the administrative savoir faire that he and his men have amassed through years of maintaining the British Empire. His whip-cracking management style results in a 30% productivity increase, and the bridge is completed capably and with dispatch. To Nicholson's satisfaction, his men see the humiliation of captivity mitigated by the pride of achievement.
Which is all well and good, but of course the best interests of the British army are not served by helping the enemy improve its supply chain. Obsessed with honor and with the vision of his own legacy, Nicholson never asks the most important question: Am I doing this for myself or for the organization? Execution takes priority over strategy. And when that happens, in business as in war, the results can't help being catastrophic.
Dead Poets Society (1989)
In a dazzling display of verbal midwifery, English professor John Keating extracts a poem of raw power from a student who moments before had professed himself incapable of composing even the most pedestrian verse. The student stands before his applauding classmates, emotionally drained and awestruck at his own achievement, while Keating gazes at him with a look that approaches rapture.
This is the finest moment of Dead Poets Society, the story of a thoroughly unorthodox teacher at a thoroughly orthodox boys' prep school. Keating (Robin Williams at his most Robin Williams-ish) is a larger-than-life motivator who encourages his callow charges to seize the day, question authority, and commit other acts that today seem bumper sticker trite but in this 11-year-old film appear madly risky and fiercely innovative. In this teacher's philosophy, no rule is so entrenched it can't be broken, no box so big it can't be thought out of. With his courageous ideas and manic charisma, Keating inspires extraordinary -- almost cultish -- devotion among his followers. He is the kind of leader who changes young lives.
That said, unequivocably recommending Keating as a role model for executives would be the film critic's version of malpractice. He is clumsy in adult relationships, has no patience with institutional politics, and does nothing to promote loyalty to the organization. Yes, one can easily picture Williams's character leading the charge at a dot-com start-up. But before you could say carpe diem, investors would be demanding a real CEO.
Newly minted CEOs who worry that leaders are born, not made, should find the 1998 movie Elizabeth reassuring. The woman responsible for England's golden age starts off with the fierce independence of any company founder, refusing her dying half-sister's demand that she uphold the Catholic faith and declaring that "when I am queen, I promise to act as my conscience dictates." But thrust into a maelstrom of politics and religion, when Elizabeth (Cate Blanchett) does take the throne, she frets, hesitates, and falls back upon the wrongheaded counsel of others.
Defeated in battle and with England's powerful bishops aligned against her, Elizabeth laments that she will never equal her father, Henry VIII, at running the family business. But slowly she grows comfortable in the ruler's skin, learning to win by using the force of her personality rather than the power of her position. (The scene in which the new queen sways a hostile Parliament by combining calls to conscience with sly, self-deprecating humor is a masterpiece of meeting management.) As betrayal is heaped upon betrayal, she becomes a shrewd judge of people, learning to trust only herself and the sole nobleman loyal enough to kill for her.
Elizabeth's decision to renounce romantic love in favor of total devotion to her subjects could resonate with anyone trying to satisfy the demands of a family and a business. Yes, her sacrifice appears extreme. But it's hard to argue with success: Elizabeth ruled for more than 40 years, and at her death England was the most powerful and prosperous country in Europe.
Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)
Business leaders wishing to nurture happy, motivated, successful employees need look no further than the film version of David Mamet's play Glengarry Glen Ross. The trick is to carefully study the words and actions of the managers portrayed here and then do the exact opposite.
A bitter, cynical, and ultimately tragic take on American business, this is the story of a handful of real estate salesmen struggling to salvage their jobs and some shreds of dignity in an organization bent on their humiliation. The company's owners -- the universally loathed Mitch and Murray -- callously set these men up to fail by hoarding choice new prospects until the "losers" who work for them prove their mettle by closing leads already proven worthless.
Significantly, Mitch and Murray never show their faces in the dreary office where most of the action takes place. Instead they send a well-coiffed barracuda (Alec Baldwin), who berates the already demoralized employees in a speech of extraordinary viciousness. "You see this watch?" he asks one salesman. "That watch costs more than your car. I made $970,000 last year. That's who I am. And you're nothing."
Listen to these managers' words. Carefully observe their actions. Then say and do exactly the opposite.
Not content to demolish morale and organizational loyalty, the owners' mouthpiece then lays waste to teamwork and collegiality by announcing a sales contest. First prize is a Cadillac El Dorado. Second prize is a set of steak knives. "Third prize is you're fired." That announcement sends the salesmen into a spiral of despair, deception, and crime. By movie's end Mitch and Murray have been robbed and the new leads sold to a competitor. They're getting off light.
Glengarry Glen Ross is a warning for company owners who treat sales staff like a different species, deserving of extra strokes when they produce and extra kicks when they don't. Sometimes your best people are the most fragile when times get rough. If you can't manage to challenge without threatening and motivate without intimidating, you'll lose 'em all.
It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
Beneath all its Currier & Ives iconography -- the Christmas tree, the skating pond, the dance in the high school gym -- the Yuletide perennial It's a Wonderful Life is a tribute to principles-based management. George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart at his good-man-with-dark-underbelly best) epitomizes the socially conscious entrepreneur. He keeps his savings and loan company alive during the depression by reaching out to the tired, poor, and huddled masses spurned by his fat-cat competitor. No matter how big the business gets -- and it never gets very big -- you sense that he'll always treat employees with consideration and respect and always address every customer by name. So humble is this company owner that he rolls up his own sleeves when it's time to help those customers move into their new homes.
Treat your customers and employees with generosity and consideration. It will always come back to you.
George's it's-all-about-the-people philosophy is the diametric opposite of the it's-all-about-the-job approach (see Twelve O'Clock High, below), and real business owners might debate which is worse -- being fiscally irresponsible or being ungenerous. But in director Frank Capra's reap-what-you-sow universe, George's community outreach is amply rewarded when the community reaches back to rescue his imperiled business. It's the ultimate gesture of customer loyalty, accepted without embarrassment because it is so well deserved.
Norma Rae (1979)
Sally Field will be remembered for two moments: her speech ("You like me!") in front of millions of television viewers during the 1980 Academy Awards ceremony, and her silence in front of several hundred textile workers in Norma Rae. The latter performance is the worthier legacy.
Resisting expulsion from the mill where she and her family have worked all their lives, Field's character scrawls the word union on a board and scrambles onto a table. For almost three minutes she stands there -- scared but resolute, holding her declaration aloft -- while one by one the workers switch off their machines, reducing the factory floor to silence. It may be the most powerful act of wordless suasion in film: testimony to the fact that in leadership, oratory isn't everything.
The mill workers don't respond to Norma Rae because she, personally, inspires them. They know her and her flaws -- a quick temper, a dicey sexual past -- too well for that. But as Norma gains the courage of conviction, she comes to embody her cause. Her transformation from passive follower to rebel-within-bounds to go-for-broke torchbearer is catalyzed by Reuben Warshofsky, a New York City labor organizer who recognizes Norma's latent abilities. An effective leader in his own right, Reuben has a playful, hectoring, and intellectually engaging relationship with Norma that is mentoring at its best.
Norma Rae never denies who she is. But she won't let it matter. Thus she commands the allegiance of the downtrodden workers while always remaining one of them. Norma Rae demonstrates that you don't have to be better than the people that you lead. You don't even have to believe in yourself. As long as you believe passionately in what you are doing, others will follow.
One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)
If a visionary leader is someone who sees what isn't there and makes others see it too, then Randle Patrick McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) is a visionary leader. Forbidden to watch the World Series by Nurse Mildred Ratched (Louise Fletcher), the emotionally corseted ruler of this film's psychiatric-ward setting, he maniacally announces imaginary plays as he stares at a blank TV screen. Within moments the other patients gather round him, shouting and cheering on the invisible players. Akio Morita, formerly the chairman of Sony, probably felt the same thrill as he described for his employees how millions of people would someday walk the streets listening to music through tiny headphones.
Even the most inspired visionary can't change an organization if he doesn't first understand it.
It would be simple to approach the battle between McMurphy and Ratched for the soul of the ward as a case study in divergent leadership styles, with McMurphy triumphing in spirit, if not in fact. He is reduced to a zombie by a lobotomy, but his protégé -- the Chief (Will Sampson) -- makes a run for it. Ratched is all rigidity and rules: she derives power from her ability to humiliate and cow a vulnerable constituency. McMurphy, on the other hand, reminds the lost souls of their humanity and restores their belief in the possibility of joy. Where there is life -- and McMurphy is life at its roughest, rawest, and most potent -- there is hope.
But McMurphy makes the same mistake that many new leaders in established organizations commit: he tries to enact change without understanding why things are the way they are. Upending power structures, flouting bad rules, turning on the charisma, he seems like a rebel destined to win his cause. He learns too late that the organization he hopes to turn around is deeply and complexly dysfunctional and that the powers that oppose him are firmly entrenched. Yes, the world can be changed by a single person. But not by a naï ve one.
Twelve Angry Men (1957)
It's a sweltering afternoon, and you're closeted in an airless room with 11 other people, many of whom you'd ordinarily cross the street to avoid. The group's mission is to make a decision based on seemingly clear-cut evidence. The other members vote immediately for the obvious course of action, one that, for all you know, may be correct. But you have this nagging doubt. What do you do?
If you're Henry Fonda in Twelve Angry Men, you quietly but resolutely force the issue back on the table. The issue, in this case, is the guilt or innocence of a teenage boy accused of killing his father. The jurors represent backgrounds, personalities, and agendas calculated to clash. Alone among them, Fonda (Juror #8) understands the gravity of the matter and deplores the haste to convict. But instead of trying to seize the bridle and yank the runaway horse in the right direction, #8 relies on open-ended questioning, sophisticated reasoning, and yes, even patient listening to draw the others into his corner. Occasionally forced into impassioned confrontations, #8 rarely says anything more adamant than "I don't know. It's possible." Yet by the film's end he has transformed a lackluster, rubber-stamp meeting into an encounter bristling with energy and passion, during which each juror has publicly confronted his own demons.
Juror #8's performance is a model for corporate leaders trying to win over diverse, hostile constituencies without resorting to bullying or edict. After watching Twelve Angry Men, executives may forgo that M.B.A. and pursue a psychology degree instead.
Twelve O'Clock High (1949)
Our readers can't get enough of Twelve O'Clock High (it turned up on more than two dozen lists), and not just because Gregory Peck looks swell in a leather bomber jacket. Many testify to repeated viewings of this World War II yarn in which General Frank Savage (Peck) takes over a bombing unit that has been reduced to chaos by a beloved commanding officer whose empathy has seriously compromised his ability to lead.
New leaders must first earn employees' respect, even if that means being unpopular. If they do it right, love will follow.
Savage realizes that in order to build up his men, he must first break down their defiant, defeatist attitudes. He accomplishes that with a series of summary commands such as demoting an enlisted man for being out of uniform and reshuffling roommate assignments to prevent personal relationships from subverting smart combat decisions. The troops rebel, but Savage doesn't ease up. And slowly, as the ragtag 918th Bomber Group sees itself metamorphose into a crack squad of precision bombers, its members come to appreciate the new CO's tactics and to love and respect the man himself.
Twelve O'Clock High will not appeal to hierarchy flatteners and empowerment enthusiasts trying to build cultures as warm and welcoming as the family den. Savage succeeds because he doesn't give a damn about his own popularity -- only about the effectiveness of the squadron. And no, good leaders don't always have to be sons of bitches. But Savage would argue that when the straits are dire and the stakes enormous, it's the only way.