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March 28, 2013

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CBS News- Yes, women make better leadersby zengerfolkman

Orginally posted on CBS Money Watch on March 26, 2013

women-leadersIn decades of analyzing exceptional leadership, John Zenger and Joseph Folkman have identified 16 traits required for success. These include integrity, initiative, self-development, problem solving and a drive for results. Zenger and Folkman have made their names and their business by designing powerful tools to test for these qualities and to develop them in high potential executives. That's given them the data to analyze where the qualities are most likely to be found. With regards to the differences in effectiveness between male and female leaders, the results were striking: Women outscore men in leadership effectiveness.... continued on CBS Money Watch

March 27, 2013

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The 9 Things Bad Leaders Who Successfully Improve Learn To Doby zengerfolkman

Originally posted on Forbes on March 22, 2013
In a Harvard Business Review Blog Bad Leaders Can Change Their Spots, Joe Folkman and I describe a group of 71 poor leaders who succeeded in getting much better. Specifically, they improved their effectiveness scores, on the average from 23% to 56%. They didn’t necessarily become rock stars. But these are people who moved the needle from bona fide poor leadership to “good leader” standing to a degree that they’d doubled their scores.angry-boss460

How did they do it? While many readers have been impressed it could happen, many more have been skeptical that it could happen at all. Admittedly, not every leader has the ability to do better. But all 71 of these individuals (a full 75% of our group of “bad leaders”) successfully accomplished this shift... continued on Forbes.

March 21, 2013

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“No, There’s Not an App for That.”by bsherwin

I checked the Apple website recently and noted that there are now over 775,000 apps for the iPhone.  That’s an impressive number.1  Here’s another impressive number, but one that’s much smaller:   “#1”.  As in, most important.  As in numero uno, or in primo.

Although it’s about as small as you can get, being #1 is a big deal.  It gets our attention.  Why do I mention that here?   Because I want to get your attention focused on the #1 most important leadership competency we find in the thousands of leaders we assess each month.  It’s the competency we call “Inspires and Motivates Others to High Performance.”

OK, sounds good, but what makes us think it’s #1?  In looking at our data set of over 300,000 360 survey reports, our research found that this competency is #1 in three critical areas for leaders.  It’s the one competency that:

  • is most highly correlated with exceptional leaders, those perceived as being in the top 10th percentile
  • direct reports most desire in their bosses
  • most drives employee engagement and commitment levels (which in turn drive all sorts of great business outcomes)

Here’s the good news and the bad news about that research.  The good news is that our target is clear.  Few would argue that being more inspiring to those we lead is not a worthy goal.  This data certainly supports that need.  The bad news is that most of us have a ways to go.   Our research shows that among the 16 competencies we measure in our assessments, leaders’ scores for being inspiring and motivating come in dead last.

Here’s some final good news and bad news.  The good news first:  being an inspiring and motivating leader is a competency that can be developed.  It’s not a set of behaviors that you either have or you don’t, that you’re either born with or you’re not.  There are a range of approaches, techniques, and tools that are available to help every leader become more inspiring.  If that’s an area of interest to you, a good starting point is our book, The Inspiring Leader (McGraw-Hill, 2009).  We also have some great information on our website at

I’ll break my usual practice and close with the bad news:  despite the impressive number of apps now available on the iPhone, there’s not one you can download that will make you more inspiring to those around you.  No, there’s not an app for that.  It sounds like a magic bullet and a great business opportunity waiting to be exploited, but you won’t find it on iTunes today.

Despite that, good luck in your other leadership development efforts!

Bob Sherwin

Chief Operating Officer, Zenger Folkman

1  I thought I’d further impress you by saying something clever like, “if you were to lay 775,000 iPhones end to end they would stretch from San Francisco to New York – and back and forth 68 times – an impressive 149,600 miles!”  But I crunched the numbers and it turns out my iPhone road would actually only pave a very unimpressive 63 miles, from about San Francisco to, say, Gilroy.  So this unimpressive statistic is relegated to a footnote only.

March 15, 2013

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The Ideal Praise-to-Criticism Ratioby zengerfolkman

Originally posted on Harvard Business Review blog on March 15, 2013
Which is more effective in improving team performance: using positive feedback to let people know when they're doing well, or offering constructive comments to help them when they're off track?

New research suggests that this is a trick question. The answer, as one might intuitively expect, is that both are important. But the real question is — in what proportion?

The research, conducted by academic Emily Heaphy and consultant Marcial Losada, examined the effectiveness of 60 strategic-business-unit leadership teams at a large information-processing company. "Effectiveness" was measured according to financial performance, customer satisfaction ratings, and 360-degree feedback ratings of the team members....continued on Harvard Business Review blog.

March 14, 2013

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The Magic of Managerial Involvementby zengerfolkman

Originally posted on Forbes on March 14, 2013
Large sums of money are spent each year on the development of employees and managers. It is estimated by the American Society of Training and Development that this sum was 156 billion dollars in 2011. There is no question that the return from this investment isn’t always realized.

While some pays off handsomely, there is a general consensus that a good portion of that money is being squandered. What can be done to maximize the return on this huge investment? I have one specific recommendation... continued on

March 8, 2013

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Do Women Make Better Leaders in the Workplace?by zengerfolkman

Today is International Women's Day. Jack Zenger was recently interviewed on Fox News Live discussing his research on the topic, “Do women make better leaders in the workplace?” He discusses how only 3% of CEOs in the country are female, yet women score higher in many leadership competencies than men do. The message to leaders is to not be afraid to put women in senior  leadership roles because data indicates they will perform just as well, if not better than men.

Watch the interview here:

Read more on this topic from one of our previous articles.

March 1, 2013

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Develop Subordinates by NOT Answering Their Questionsby zengerfolkman

Originally posted on on Feb. 19, 2013

Based on results obtained from more than 50,000 leaders, developing subordinates is consistently one of the lower scoring leadership behaviors. This is true in every industry and on every continent we’ve studied. Some leaders contend that they just don’t have the time for coaching but what many don’t realize is that a few small and seemingly simple interactions can make a huge difference for employee growth.

One of the most frequently occurring interactions between bosses and subordinates is the process of inquiry therefore a leader’s approach to answering questions can greatly impact a subordinate’s  success.  Let’s take a look at a few examples... continued on McGraw Hill Business Blog.

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