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Leading extraordinarily positive performance

Published on July 4, 2010 Reviewed on August 31, 2016   57 min

Other Talks in the Series: Managing Organizations

This is Kim Cameron, William Russell Kelly Professor of Management and Organizations in the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. I'm happy to share with you today what we're learning about leading extraordinary performance in organizations.
My objectives today are to introduce an approach for achieving extraordinarily positive performance in organizations. So, we'll be focusing on the organization level rather than on the individual level. I'm gonna share with you scholarly evidence supporting the importance of positive leadership in creating such performance.
I will assure you that everything in the presentation has an empirical foundation, that is, it is research-based and therefore has established validity. In addition to that, there is a theoretical grounding for each of the points being made. There is an explanation for why. It's not black magic! In addition to that, I have either implemented or have helped organizations implement each of the prescriptions that we'll share. So I know that there is a practical utility associated with what we share.
Usually, leaders approach their leadership responsibilities with a prescribed formula. We usually identify problems, try to identify, do an analysis to identify the causes, do an evaluation and identify the best solutions for those problems, and then implement a solution. Or in other words, the basic assumption of most leaders is that my job is to overcome major problems and obstacles. That's the way we train most leaders, most MBAs, most managers. There's nothing wrong with that. And in fact, if we don't do that well, we generally don't keep our jobs very long. On the other hand, there is another set of questions that are left out with that approach. I refer to it as an abundance approach. It emerges from the work of David Cooperrider and others in using an appreciative inquiry technique. Question is, "What's the best we've ever been?" "What's our highest aspiration for performance?" "When have we been at our peak?" "What are the enablers of that performance?" "Now, which of those enablers can we carry forward?" So, let's design a future or a strategy based on the best we've ever been or our highest aspirations. Or in other words, my job as a leader is to embrace and enable our highest potential. The future or the strategy put into place is very different when one adopts the right-hand column compared to the left-hand column. And of course, the right-hand column is not a substitute for the left, it's just simply a supplement but that supplement is generally ignored. We're consumed with problems, obstacles, difficulties in our leadership roles.

Leading extraordinarily positive performance

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