Leading Comments

Russ Volckmann


I am grateful for the three hundred and forty-five subscribers (as of this writing) to Leadership Opportunity. Your support means that we can move closer to a way of viewing and being in the world that is integrating, generative and supports our evolving integrity–learning to align our theory and our action. Also, I wish to express my gratitude to the many kindnesses, suggestions and offers of support LeadershipOpportunity has received.

The mission of this e-journal is to be a practical guide to the application of an integral perspective to the challenges of leadership in business and life and to the effective relationship between executive/business coaches and their clients.

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Kate Sweetman, “don’t Worry, Be Happy,” MIT Sloan Management Review, Fall 2001.

“The success or failure of top management may hinge on something few of us ever consider. That is the range of temperaments across the senior team…one important contributor to team success is …a common attitude toward life.”

Basing her article on an Administrative Science Quarterly (December 2000) study done by Sigal Barsade and Jeffrey A. Sonnenfeld of Yale, Andrew J. Ward of Emory and Jean D.F. Turner of Sepracor, Inc., Sweetman has looked at this somewhat startling finding. Why startling? Because it seems to fly in the face of all that we have been developing about the idea of diversity and its importance to collective and team work. I have hypothesized that the importance of executive teamwork for dealing with ambiguity and change requires diversity. Is it possible that this idea has been blown out of the water?

The research suggests that executive teams with similar temperaments led companies that had 4-6% higher earnings per share than companies that had diverse executive temperaments. While this article does not tell us what instruments were used to measure temperaments, it does say that levels of enthusiasm, mental alertness, energy and determination were surveyed. Here is a summary of the findings:

“…team members on more homogeneous teams felt more satisfaction, experienced a greater sense of personal influence with other team members, and enjoyed greater cooperation and less conflict than more heterogeneous teams. Interestingly, CEOs of affectively homogeneous teams also tended to use a more participative decision-making style, involving team members more frequency and more meaningfully in business decisions.”

Robert Galford, author of The Trusted Advisor, reflected, “When you get to the top of the house, intellect and experience are a given. Everyone is smart and seasoned. What makes the difference from the point of view of a highly functioning team is the ability to build intimacy with each other. That means understanding each other and properly interpreting the signals that are sent.”

In a related study Sigal Barsade found that teams can change and that change is often the result of contagious affect. He found that low-energy positives had the greatest influence on others, even more than high-energy positive cheerleader types.

Eda Roth a consultant to the Leadership Institute at Boston University’s School of Management notes, “With quiet, there’s room for other people. It allows for listening.” Sweetman concludes that nothing connects people better than that.

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Dedicated to Chris Newham with deep appreciation.
Got any? E-mail Russ Volckmann
Thanks for taking the time to consider this e-publication in a world of data overload. For leaders, collaborators, consultants, academics and coaches alike; I welcome you to some ideas and a dialogue that may benefit us all. I hope you will contact me soon with your idea, reference or article. Suggestions on improvement are welcome.
Russ Volckmann, PhD, Coaching Leaders in Business and Life
Tel: 831.333-9200, FAX: 831.656-0110
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