Monthly Archives: March 2009

Why Proximity Matters

I’ve always known intuitively why being close to one’s group of colleagues is important. Yesterday I was reminded why.

The Provost is leading a special working group to resolve some open questions together with our Faculty. She’s incredibly agile in how she works with a team, and I learned how when there was a key question about Finances that she couldn’t answer, she asked the group to wait, and she walked to the EVP of Finance’s office to bring him into the group, impromptu, to clarify a point. When she needed me on a clarification of executive decision making, she knocked on my door and asked if I’d make an impromptu appearance. Delighted of course to support such a creative act of meeting-making.

A year ago the Provost’s office was 5 buildings away from the administrative core of our school, and so when I became President the Provost moved to be on the same floor in the same building with me. We knew it was a good idea, but wasn’t sure what it would bring. Random encounters are certainly increased, and it’s great to bring together much more flow of Faculty through the administrative functions of our school. But the impromptu composition of the key people in first person in order to increase understanding — the utilization of true on-the-field teamwork — now that’s priceless.

Characteristics of the Creative Leader (versus Authoritative Leader)

I made this chart with Becky Bermont for our presentation at Davos World Economic Forum on “Creative Leadership” in January 2009. Since it has been requested … here it is. I hope it’s useful. -JM

Authoritative Leader Creative Leader
Symbol of Authority
More Sticks
Linear Path
Plan and Execute: Launching with 1.0
Sustaining Order
Yes or No (clear)
Literal in Tone
Concerned with Being Right
Think like a General or Conductor
Delegates Actions
Closed System
Close the Ranks
Follows the Manual
Loves to Avoid Mistakes
Orchestra Model
Community in Harmony
Wants to be Right
Open to Limited Feedback
Your Opinion Matters
Symbol of Inspiration
More Carrots
Nonlinear Path
Iterate and Do: Living in Beta
Taking Risks
Maybe (comfort with ambiguity)
Metaphorical in Tone
Concerned with Being Real
Think like an Artist or Designer
Hands-On Driven
Open System
Improvises when Appropriate
Loves to Learn from Mistakes
Jazz Ensemble
Community in Conversation
Hopes to be Right
Open to Unlimited Critique
What are You Really Thinking?

PS Here it is in the original visual form (PDF).