Tag Archives: Jossey-Bass

Empathy Training May Not Be Genuine

We have presented several books over the years that have featured empathy as an important skill for managers to exhibit.  Obviously, the Kouzes and Posner best-seller, Encouraging the Heart (Jossey-Bass, 2003), includes many different references to empathy as a management tool in recognizing and reinforcing employee behavior.

I was interested in a recent syndicated article entitled “The Impact of Empathy,” oirignally writtten by Matthew Gutierrez for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on July 11, 2016.  You can read his article by clicking HERE.

His premise is that companies often benefit when managers receive and use the tools to become more understanding of their direct reports.  He cites an imporant program taken by local YWCA managers, who claim they are more effective after receiving empathy trainilng.  Gutierrez state that about 20 percent of employers offer empathy training for managers, and he provides documentation from Development Dimensions International (DDI), that top-to-bottom, the copmanies perform better with this training, as much as 50% more income per employee.

I love the end, but not the means.  I don’t have a lot of good to say about people who exhibit the skill of empathy, without the underlying heart that contains it.

Any manager can learn a series of statements and questions that show interest in others.  And, there is some likelihood that those behaviors will result in positive outcomes for the employees who receive them.  But for how long?  When does the facade wear off?  How much time will it take for someone who really doesn’t care about another person to finally show true colors?

I’m not too interested in showing anyone how to use a skill such as displaying empathy who does not have cotresponding empathy in the heart.  If you really don’t care, then how better off is anyone, if all you do is fool someone into thinking that you care?

I don’t mind this training for people who really do care, but have trouble expressing it.  That is worthwhile training for them, for it builds proper skills that they need to exhibit.

But, we’ve already got enough problems in the workplace than do add phony skills for phony people to exhibit who really don’t care.  Just be honest – tell us you don’t care, go do your job, and don’t build false hopes and promises by being non-transparent.

What do you think?  Hit reply and let me know.



Keys to Successful Change Initiatives

Many people have asked me what are the keys to successful organizational change?  The kind of change that will actually stick?  This happened most recently late in the spring, when I facilitated a workshop on this topic at the American Society of Quality (ASQ) annual Cowtown Roundup in Fort Worth.

The best-selling business book I co-authored with Bill Lee, Organizing Change (Jossey OrganizingChangeCoverBass/Pfeiffer, 2003) had three guiding principles:

inclusive  – involve as many people as possible, and as deep in the organization as possible, in that it is difficult to not support a change initiative you helped create

systematic – follow a logical set of steps to phase in the stages of the change initiative.

systemic – consider the impact of the change initiative on other units of the organization, as well as other organizations, consumers, and other environmental factors, and not just your own.

However, the first step is do not announce the change initiative!  Never begin change with the change. Acknowledge the problem.  Investigate.  Discover.  Observe.  Ask questions.  Listen.  Learn.  In some cases, a problem does not even warrant a change.  In others, after conducting such due diligence, the change initiative that you actually promote may be entirely different from what you originally thought.

In other words, go slow.  Be thorough.  Find out what is going on.  Many change initiatives fail because they are simply not proper and appropriate for the purported problem they are intended to correct.



Three New Debut Best-Sellers

There are three  hardcover business books that debuted on today’s Wall Street Journal best-selling list (May 28-29, p. C 16).

They are:

# 4 – NEVER SPLIT THE DIFFERENCE by Christopher Voss (Harper Business)

# 5 – YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE A SHARK by Robert Herjavec (St. Martin’s Press)

#10 – MAKERS AND TAKERS by Rana Foroohar (Crown Business)

We will watch to see which of these, if any, make the New York Times business best-seller list.  That is our primary source for selecting books for the First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas.  Click here for information about our monthly event.

Of interest, our August selection at the FFBS, The Ideal Team Player by Patrick Lencioni (Jossey-Bass) climbed from # 7 to # 3 this week.  The Chris Anderson book, TED:  A Guide to Public Speaking (Houghton-Mifflin) dropped from # 3 to # 9 this week.

Our Book on Organizing Change Features Three Key Principles

When Bill Lee and I wrote Organizing Change (San Francisco:  Pfeiffer-Jossey Bass, 2003), we did so from a large-scale perspective.  Our premise was that it is easier to consider change from a high-level such as a one that affects an entire organization, then, whittle it down to whatever level you want to use, such as a division, department, or unit.

While the magnitude of a change may differ by size, the principles do not.  As you read our book, you will find three major concerns that you want to be aware of for any change that you lead or initiate.  These are to be:

inclusive – go as deep as possible in the organizational charts of the areas affected by the change; get input from as many people as you can; it is difficult to argue against a change you helped create.  Remember what Covey said years ago – “without involvement there is not commitment.”  Make the change “our initiative” not “mine.”

systemic – consider how the change will affect all types of stakeholders; consider other departments or units in the organization, internal and external customers, consumers, and so forth.

systematic – organize the change phase by phase; decide who does what when;  get it right the first time, and you will not lose productivity while kicking off the change initiative.

When you lead change, you are in the driver’s seat, not the passenger’s seat.  You make decisions that craft and create important paths that various stakeholders take to solve a problem, correct a difficulty, or make something  that is “good” even better.  What is important, however, is to know that you never begin with the change initiative.  You always begin with the recognition of a problem, issue, or uncomfortable situation.  That principle will remind you of John Kotter’s first step in his change process, which is URGENCY.   In fact, he wrote an entire book about that step, which you can purchase a synopsis of from 15MinuteBusinessBooks.com.

It is amazing how many people I have taught this process to in professional workshops and courses over the last ten years.  I remember the first one for Citi so well, as if it were yesterday.  Right now, we have two weeks to go in the MBA course “Leading Change” at the University of Dallas College of Business, where I use this book and teach practical implementation of the process.  In this course, we don’t talk about change – we make change.

I know it works.  We would not have had this many interested people if the process were unsuccessful.  Fortunately, I hear back from so many individuals who implement the program in their organizations, that I am inspired to continue to share it with others.

At Creative Communication Network, we offer two paths for change.   We do this in workshops, consulting, and coaching for both paths.



if you want to:

Cope with change you didn’t create

Work in a change-friendly environment

Reduce personal anxiety about change

Produce an environment of freedom

Look for positive changes to implement



if you want to:

Reduce the impact of a problem

Design an organized change initiative

Gain commitment by influencing others involved in the change

Boost the positive impact of change on those affected by it

Measure and evaluate the effectiveness of the change


We’re really excited about these programs.  We will be going into companies as well as conducting public workshops.  Complete information, including agendas, outlines, objectives, pricing, and other details are available by calling (972) 980-0383 or sending an e-Mail to:  

Don’t wait!  Join the fully satisfied individuals from many organizations who have benefited from these programs.

Here is how to get the book that we use in Leading Change.  It is now a print-on-demand book directly from the publisher.  After you get it, you can contact me for the templates that are featured within the book.  This is the link to use:

Organizing Change: An Inclusive, Systemic Approach to Maintain Productivity and Achieve Results (0787964433) cover image
Organizing Change: An Inclusive, Systemic Approach to Maintain Productivity and Achieve Results
Authors:  William W. Lee and Karl J. Krayer
ISBN: 978-0-7879-6443-6
272 pages
May 2003

From Soup to Nuts? Maybe Not Even From Soup!

On Friday, August 5, at our First Friday Book Synopsis, I will present a book entitled Touchpoints:  Creating Powerful Leadership Connections in the Smallest of Moments (2011, San Francisco:  Jossey-Bass).  The book is part of the Warren Bennis series.

This book is co-authored by Douglas Conant, who is the retiring President and CEO of Campbell Soup, and Mette Norgaard, who is a strategic leadership consultant.

The new CEO of Campbell Soup is Denise Morrison.  She starts her new job on Monday, August 1.  You can read about her at this link from the June 27 issue of Bloomberg Business Week


As you will read in that article, the task she faces is formidable.  Not only is soup consumption down, but her own company sales have been down and no better than flat.  Nothing the company has done seems to satisfy consumers.

I don’t drink soup in the summer.  It doesn’t sound good to me. 

And, I don’t like soups that remove the sodium.  As you read in this article, Campbell tried that, and it violated the taste expectations of its consumers.

Let’s watch the developments here.  What will she do?

What do you think?  Let’s talk about it really soon!

Li’s New Book May Not Be What You Think – Are All Systems Go?


Charlene Li’s new business best-seller, Open Leadership (San Francisco:  Jossey-Bass), is all about social technologies.  The major premise from her book is that leaders need to let go.  They must take the risk to expose their organizations to customers, suppliers, vendors, and competitors, or they will be left behind in the rapidly evolving marketplace.

Be warned that this is not a guide to using Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, or any other tool.   The focus of this book is on developing and creating systems that work for individuals and organizations. 

I was particularly fascinated with the “sandbox covenants.”  These are the rules, procedures, and disciplines that it takes to structure openness.   If that sounds contradictory to you – “structuring openness” – realize that without walls to keep the sand in, you do not have a system, and you have chaos.  Every executive, employee, vendor, or customer who interfaces with a social technology system offered by an organization must play by some rules, or the system collapses.

You may not be surprised that not everyone is cut out for this task.  One of the interesting features of the book is a self-assessment to determine where an individual stands concerning the mind-set, traits, and behaviors that it takes to succeed with social technologies.  The good news is that “where you are” is not necessarily “where you can be,” and practically every behavior and skill to succeed is trainable and learnable.

Li emphasizes patience with these systems.  She is correct.  Rome was not built in a day, and neither are any of these tools.  The key is to make them work for you – not you working for them.

I really believe that this book deserves a careful read by anyone who holds an interest in greater returns from social technologies.

What do you think?  Let’s talk about it!