Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Leading at the Edge: How to Unlock Extraordinary Performance

A few weeks ago, IMD and the IMD Alumni Club of Dublin organised a business forum at the Swiss Embassy in Dublin. George Kohlrieser, Professor of Leadership and Organizational Behaviour at IMD and author of the award-winning book “Hostage at the Table”, came to Ireland for the occasion.

The event was hosted by the Ambassador to Ireland, His Excellency Beat Loeliger, at the Embassy residence. Mr. Loeliger opened the event by greeting the many participants from all areas of business. He talked about his sense of leadership and how leaders have to be willing to go through some pain in order to achieve their objectives – making a very appropriate parallel between his own efforts at running the recent marathon. What kept him going during the long hours of practice and then the race itself was the objective he had given himself.

Alumni club co-president, Jean-Marc Soustre, then welcomed participants and thanked the host. The club acts as a strong link between the local business community and IMD. IMD Director, Lynn Verdina-Henchoz, then warmly thanked the partners of the event (the Swiss Embassy and the Alumni Club), and introduced Professor George Kohlrieser. George Kohlrieser is an organizational and clinical psychologist and a Professor of Leadership at IMD, where he works on a number of programs including the much demanded “High Performance Leadership.” He has worked in more than 100 countries around the world and is author of the award-winning and international best selling book “Hostage at the Table – How leaders can overcome conflict, influence others, and raise performance,” which draws on from his experience as a hostage negotiator.

Lynn Verdina-Henchoz then introduced the evening’s topic. Like many countries, Ireland has been sorely hit by the economic crisis: cf this quote from Business & Finance “Ireland is an open economy and in view of the unprecedented and co-ordinated nature of the global downturn it would not have avoided suffering a considerable amount of collateral damage. But there are many lessons to be learned for the future. There has to be a vast improvement in corporate governance standards and the performance of independent directors (leaders) across public, semi-state and private sector spheres”. There is, thus, recognition that in order for Ireland to achieve a sustained recovery from the current crisis, changes in the quality of leadership will need to be addressed.

George Kohlrieser’s workshop earlier in the day explored the attributes of High Performance Leadership and how leaders can inspire and engage people to bring out the best in their teams, saying “Human beings are the only species who can interfere with their own performance.” He provided fascinating insights into why some leaders can overcome barriers and frustration and persevere in order to achieve great outcomes, and how leaders can “play to win” in the midst of an economic crisis. He used examples and videos from the world of sports, hostage negotiation, business and personal achievement and encouraged participants to share their own personal examples. Professor Kohlrieser outlined his 8 pillars of High Performance Leadership and approached subjects such as conflict resolution, the power of dialogue, and resilience. (You can find links to a video interview with Professor Kohlrieser and more information about his work and IMD on the right).

The evening ended with a cocktail organised by the Ambassador “in a refreshingly bureaucracy-free environment,” as one participant commented and discussions went on late into the evening.

1 comment:

Jim Devine, President IADT said...

The fact that only 20% of leaders play to win and that the other 80% play 'not to lose' stayed with me long after this stimulating lecture. I really enjoyed the forum, both formal and informal!