Category Archives: Sales Training

Experts Discuss the Importance of Emotional Intelligence in Business and Education on The Gail Shane Show

I recently had the privilege of co-hosting The Gail Shane Show on WSRQ – Sarasota with, of course, Gail Shane.  The subject of the program explored the critical role Emotional Intelligence competencies (Self-Awareness, Self-Regulation, Social Awareness, Relationship Management skills and Empathy) have on creating and sustaining competitive advantage in business, education, and in our own personal lives.  We were fortunate to have on our panel neurosurgeon Dr. Ravi Rao, the author of “Emotional Business: Inspiring Human Connectedness To Grow Earnings And The Economy, Becky Canesse, CEO of Just For Girls, and Dr. Jennifer Rosenboom, the Principal of the Just For Girls Academy.

I’ve edited the podcast replay into three segments, which you can listen to by clicking the audio players below:

Segment One ~ Dr. Ravi Rao and Terry Murray discuss the neurology of human emotions, leveraging neuroscience to develop engaging and inspirational leaders, and how organizational  mastery of our emotional landscape contributes to competitive advantage, engagement, productivity and business performance (13 minutes).

Segment Two ~ Becky Cannesse and Dr. Jennifer Rosenboom discuss how they’re educating the whole child by cultivating empathy, compassion, resiliency, and Emotional Intelligence skills in young girls and how Equine Facilitated Experiential Learning, conducted by Performance Transformation, LLC™, has contributed to the girls’ development (8 minutes).

Segment Three ~ Ravi, Terry, Gail, Becky and Jennifer discuss methods for teaching emotional awareness skills, how Equine Facilitated Experiential Learning accelerates and supports the emergence of Emotional Intelligence competencies, and strategies for cultivating a positive, emotional landscape in organizations, businesses, and families (13 minutes).

Thanks again to Gail Shane, WSRQ – Sarasota, Sarasota Manatee Association for Riding Therapy (SMART), our collaborator and host for Equine programs, and Neal Communities, the sponsor, for having us on the air!

© 2013, Terry Murray, The Gail Shane Show.

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Positioning with Purpose ~ Meaning, Engagement and Social Branding

The McKinsey Quarterly® just published a compelling article entitled, “Increasing the Meaning Quotient at Work”.  The article explores the power of meaningfulness in the workplace and shares several approaches to cultivate a sense of purposefulness throughout the organization.  We must admit, we have a bias in endorsing the research, as the concepts and application of psychological flow, emotional intelligence, the endowment effect, and inclusion through authentic engagement have been central tenets of our curriculum for the past four years.  For us, it’s a point of independent validation of our thought leadership (of being a step ahead of such prestigious, global firms like McKinsey) and approach to professional and organizational development.

Bell Curve FlowRenowned research psychologist, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, has demonstrated that when people are in psychological flow, they’re performing at their optimal abilities.  Be it an athletic, artistic or intellectual pursuit.  In fact, I wrote extensively about flow in my book and identified methods for creating and sustaining the culture necessary to propagate flow in knowledge workers.  In fact, working from flow increases productivity five-fold.  By intentionally building an emotionally intelligent workforce and emotionally intelligent culture will emerge.  Incorporating the work of Daniel Goleman, one of the fathers of emotional intelligence research, and the research of affective neuroscientists Jaak Panksepp and Richard Davidson, we’ve created easy-to-use, yet powerful tools to assist our clients successfully navigate their emotional landscape (i.e., The Emotional Compass™).

Another interesting finding from the article is another lesson we’ve long understood and emphasized.  It is from the discipline of Applied Behavioral Economics, and in particular, the research of Dan Ariely.  When we own something, be it an idea or an item, we naturally overestimate its value.  The McKinsey study reveals this with the experiment of writing your own lottery ticket.  Dan Ariely demonstrated it at Duke, with basketball tickets.  We’ve seen it for years in our strategic planning practice and it is why we migrated from writing strategic plans for clients to coaching them through the process.  When we feel (notice it is feel, not think or believe) ownership, we adhere and champion our work.  We have a psychological and emotional skin in the game, which also drives engagement.

The other tool McKinsey talks about is storytelling.  Storytelling was humankind’s first knowledge management system.  It was how, for millennia, human beings passed on survival skills, and the cultural mythologies that defined their identity as a people.  This is another long-standing tool we’ve incorporated into our experiential learning workshops as well as our new, social knowledge management platform.  Stories are powerful psychological tools that resonate with us.  It’s part of why we so readily remember song lyrics; stories set to music.

One of the artifacts of the Industrial Age of management is the exclusive use of extrinsic goals and values to drive engagement.  Money, prestige and the big corner office may have worked well to motivate a homogenous workforce, but falls short in today’s multi-cultural, multi-generational workplace.  Extrinsic goals and values are conditioned values, things our society tells us we should value.  By introducing intrinsic goals and values, leaders can transcend both cultural and generational differences in orientation and perspective.  Intrinsic values are universal values we all share.  Authentic relationships, personal development and a sense of shared purpose.  These are the values that resonate neurologically in human beings.  They are ancient, and we can still see how they manifest themselves in primal societies in which survival is highly interdependent.

Companies are coming to realize how purposefulness, of being a part of something larger than ourselves, drives engagement.  Professional development demonstrates an investment by the firm in the individual as well, implicitly communicating, “You have value and are worth investing in.”  Incorporating professional development plans for each associate engrains this message throughout the entire enterprise and can help change the tenor of the culture.

These lessons have strategic value and we are seeing this value manifest itself through the use of social media to create social branding.  Home Depot’s Aprons in Action program is an example of this application being conducted on Facebook.  Home Depot currently has a social media voting contest in place to support nonprofits that work with our veterans.  Each month, four nonprofits compete for votes to win a $25,000 gift card.  This engages both the public and their own associates to feel a part of doing something good for the community…of being a part of positive change.  Just think how much more cost-effective this is compared to a 30 second spot on television!  It sends the implicit message, “We care,” that resonates on an emotional level with the company’s stakeholders.

This approach creates deep reach.  For example, we partner with Sarasota Manatee Association for Riding Therapy (SMART) to conduct our experiential learning workshops.  In doing so, our client’s investments in leadership development, team building and sales skills programs directly supports a community nonprofit that serves children with developmental disabilities and wounded veterans returning home.  It connects the developmental process with societal meaning and demonstrates service leadership.  When we heard SMART was in Home Depot’s contest this month, we sprang to action to create a fun promotional video for the contest. This level of engagement, of being a part of something bigger than us, mobilized action in support of their needs.  With that said, we invite you to please vote for SMART by visiting the Aprons in Action link.

This is the exclamation point on the power of social branding to drive engagement throughout an enterprise’s business ecology.  Videos are made, social media networks are leveraged, blogs are written and peer opinion and shared intention drives traffic to the Home Depot Facebook page.  Value is created in every direction that benefits Home Depot, SMART, and Performance Transformation.  How we feel, about Home Depot in this example, compels positive behaviors from outside the organization that contribute to the company’s brand equity and social standing.

Perhaps more than ever, employee engagement, customer engagement, leadership, marketing and brand management, are intersecting not so much in the head, but in the heart!

© 2013, Terry Murray.

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Scientific Study Demonstrates the Efficacy of Equine Facilitated Experiential Learning

leadership-round-pen-2-lo-res.jpgThose of us employing a relationship-based approach to Equine Facilitated Experiential Learning (EFEL) in the personal and professional development business know how powerful the approach can be for our participants.  The success we’ve witnessed traveling the country these past four years conducting workshops, from Hawaii to Montana to Florida, has been remarkable.  We’ve seen rapid, developmental progress made in combat veterans, women leaving county jail, VA counselors, juveniles in detention, at-risk children, clinicians and business professionals.  The approach delivers a powerful shift in one’s perspective of self, others and how the interplay between human beings (and horses, too) has a biochemical, neurological and psychological affect that subtly defines the nature of our relationships.  Whether we’re leading a team of professionals, selling to prospects, or simply interacting with our friends and families.  We know this works because we’ve seen it working.

Now there’s a solid, scientific research study that confirms what we know anecdotally.  Researchers Patricia Pendry and Stephanie Roeter of Washington State University published the study, “Experimental Trial Demonstrates Positive Effects of Equine Facilitated Learning on Child Social Competence, in a 2012 edition of the professional journal, Human-Animal Interactions.  Conducted as an eleven week after-school program, the study demonstrated improvements in the youth’s’ self-confidence, self-esteem, school bonding, positive social behaviors, school grades and achievement test scores.  To quote Pendry and Roeter, “Results echo findings from prior correlational, anecdotal, and case study evidence, which suggest significant positive associations between participation in equine facilitated programs and various aspects of adjustment and wellbeing.  Faced with skepticism about the efficacy of equine facilitated programs by potential funders and third party payers, therapeutic professionals and clients can now point to causal evidence.  This may not only increase the public’s confidence in equine programs’ ability to positively affect child development, but also translate into increased structural support to increase accessibility to such programs.”1

At first glance, working with horses to develop mindful leaders, cohesive teams and highly efficient sales professionals may look a bit woo-woo.  It isn’t.  We’ve canvased over 200 peer-reviewed research studies in everything from affective neuroscience, biochemistry, applied behavioral economics, performance psychology, adult learning styles and even quantum physics to correlate and explain what is actually happening in our workshops.  Our approach incorporates this research to introduce and frame the lessons the participants are about to experience, in specifically designed horse/human relationship-based exercises, firsthand for themselves.  As we introduce business metaphors throughout the exercises, we see eyes widen as that ah-ha moment emerges when a lesson is embraced through self-reflection and self-discovery.  These kinesthetic lessons are not easily forgotten.

The research pipeline for EFEL is beginning to fill and in the coming years I’m confident we’ll see even more validated results to the approach.  Validation of what we’ve learned experientially by conducting workshops these past four years.  If you are interested in learning more about our approach, we invite you to visit our website!

1.) Patricia Pendry, Stephanie Roeter, “Experimental Trial Demonstrates Positive Effects of Equine Facilitated Learning on Child Social Competence”, Human-Animal Interaction, 2012, Vol. 1, No. 1, 1-19.

© 2013, Terry Murray.

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Are You Leading for Emotional Competitive Advantage?

In his new book, Emotional Business – Inspiring Human Connectedness to Grow Earnings and the Economy, Dr. Ravi Rao provides a concise, reflective and highly pragmatic approach to understanding the role human emotions play in commerce and how, as business leaders in the 21st century, embracing and engaging in emotional competitive advantage is a strategic imperative.

f_3dI recently enjoyed the opportunity to appear on Patricia Raskin’s Positive Business radio program with a distinguished gentleman by the name of Dr. Ravi Rao.  I came away from the interview sincerely impressed with Dr. Rao’s insights.  Having just read his book, my impression has escalated to distinct admiration.  Dr. Rao knows of what he speaks.  His educational background includes an M.ED. in early childhood development, a Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University, an M.D. from the University of Virginia Medical School and he received his neurosurgeon training at Harvard Med.  In 2000, he left medicine to join a leading business consulting firm and now runs his own company helping companies and organizations understand the critical nature of human emotions and the role these emotions play in driving or derailing success.

His book is neither a scholarly treatise filled with regression analysis nor is it an anecdotal collection of success stories.  It is very much a pragmatic, exceptionally useful and grounded guide to the human emotional landscape, offering clear guidelines as to how the lessons from social neuroscience can deliver emotional competitive advantage for businesses operating in today’s Ideas Economy.

Emotional Business is a highly accessible read, breaking down the applications of Dr. Rao’s insights from real world experiences into distinct, operational applications.  He describes the seven emotional needs of customers and how organizations must strategize and choose which customers they wish to resonate with and how the tradeoffs of these decision may effect performance.  He goes on to apply social neuroscience to team dynamics and explains how managing the emotional vigor of the team must be primary and ongoing for cohesion and achievement.  Moving into organizational strategy, Dr. Rao discusses how successful organizations apply a mix of nine emotional constructs into every phase of the enterprise’s endeavors.  The book goes on to explore scientifically grounded approaches for conflict management, addressing a disfunctional culture, nimble and empathetic listening, dealing with stress and the critical importance of gatherings to cultivate shared values, vision and passionate engagement.

Dr. Rao’s last chapter resonates with a philosophical message we both share.  Get the emotions right and you’ll get the business right.  Get the business right and we can change the world!   I often say I don’t know how to change culture, but I do know how to change business culture.  This is the key to driving positive change in our society and world, fore the experiences we all encounter in our daily work resonates into our personal lives.  Business has the power to drive positive, social change.

Our firm has delved into the neuroscience literature for more than four years.  In our programs and workshops we leverage the lessons we’ve garnered surrounding  coherence, psychological flow, entrainment, Core Mammalian Emotional Systems as well as lessons learned through research and actual experiences employing Applied Behavioral Economics.  Dr. Rao break’s down much of what we’ve learned and continue to apply into an easy-to-read, concise collection of step-by-step methodologies to enhance emotional engagement, creativity and performance in today’s rapidly shifting economic landscape.

I highly recommend this book!

© 2012, Terry Murray.

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Seven Questions to Ask When Considering an Equine Facilitated Leadership or Team Building Program

As we settle into the budget and planning season, many organizations are considering training options for the coming year.  As Equine Facilitated Experiential Learning (EFEL) programs continue to gain in popularity, the nuances and differences that exist between various approaches should be taken into consideration.  The importance of approach and philosophy cannot be overstated as it speaks directly to the efficaciousness of the program.  As these workshops and programs are new to many people, I thought I would share seven questions everyone contemplating an EFEL program should ask to ensure they achieve their training objectives.

1.) Is the approach behavioral-based or relationship-based?  The importance of this difference cannot be overstated.  Behaviorally based approaches objectify the horse, relegating the horse to being nothing more than an apparatus.  The exercises are often oblique, based simply on placing the participants in an unfamiliar circumstance, without any framework or clear learning objectives.  Many of these types of programs evolved out of therapeutic applications for people with emotional challenges and have little to do with professional development.  The exercises are often domineering and abusive to the highly sensitive horses, driving them into fear response.  This unfortunately reinforces dominant behaviors from the workplace that erode team work and employee engagement and work at cross-purpose with professional growth and development.

Relationship-based approaches are significantly more mindful.  Programs that follow this philosophy focus on the learning opportunities the horse/human relationship delivers.  As horses mirror human emotions, it enables the participant to experience for themselves how they connect, engage and motivate the horse, without dominating or coercive behavior.  This is a direct metaphor for how people connect, engage and motivate their co-workers, subordinates and prospects.  By allow the participant to experience this first-hand, it creates a memorable learning experience they will never forget.  Relationship-based exercises are structured, with clear objectives that are aligned with business and developmental goals clearly in mind.  These programs are also significantly more mindful in their philosophy of partnering with the horse, ensuring proper emotional, psychological and physical care is followed at all times.

2.) How comprehensive was the facilitators training?  Like any growing industry, training and certification programs flock to any opportunity to capture a quick buck.  Unfortunately, in the case of working with horses for professional development, this can be disastrous.  It is very common for behavioral-based approaches to require a paltry level of training.   For example, programs such as EAGALA require a three day workshop to be level one certified.  In comparison, I studied a relationship-based approach that required more than twelve weeks of study onsite, with additional off site study spread over the course of an entire year.  The educational difference between a dozen contact hours under study with the horses and more than three hundred contact hours with the horses speaks for itself.

3.) Is the approach framed in scientific research that cultivates emotional intelligence competencies?  Programs that lack any reference to research from the neurosciences, performance psychology, Core Mammalian Emotional Systems, Applied Behavioral Economics, Kolb’s Adult Learning Style Inventory or quantum physics can border on pop psychology and ungrounded, unsubstantiated opinions.  In effect, programs that lack solid scientific evidence justifying the approach are no more efficacious than the tired ropes courses, paintball outings or competitions to build paper boats in a resort swimming pool.  Programs that are founded and aligned in peer-review research are significantly more accessible for the participants.  It draws a direct correlation between cognitive learning and deeper, emotive learning…delivering lessons that last a lifetime.

4.) What is the professional background of the facilitator?  Again, like any growing industry, people will flock to an opportunity to make a dollar, whether they are qualified or not.  This is why we see so many certification programs that, to the letter of the law, are not truly certification programs.  Ask about the professional background of the facilitator.  I cannot tell you how many people I’ve seen in this industry speed through a quick and dirty certification program to conduct leadership development programs without ever having held a leadership position in their lives.  Leaders bear the battle scars of leadership and have their own experiential learning under their belts from real-world engagements.  Ask about the depth and breadth of the facilitator’s actual leadership experience in business settings.  Were they a sales manager responsible for eight people for two or three years or do they have more than a decades of multi-cultural, multi-generational experience leading hundreds of associates?  Have they ever bore the mantle of leadership at all?

5.) What is the facilitator’s horse training philosophy? This is as critical as the difference between behavioral-based and relationship-based approaches.  Keep an eye out for facilitators that claim Natural Horsemanship expertise.  The leading example of this is an approach called Pirelli.  So called, Natural Horsemanship philosophies reflect the same approach as transactional leadership from the Industrial Age.  They attempt to coerce the horse with pressure, adding incremental discomfort to the horse until the horse does what they want.  They then reward the horse by releasing the pressure.  Punishment and reward are classic, behaviorally-based approaches to dominating people, or horses for that matter, to get what the transactional leader wants.  It is the proven cause of the employee disengagement crisis we are experiencing today.

More mindful, relationship-based approaches to horsemanship focus on communicating with the horse in a manner they can comprehend and invites the horse into relationship.  Approaches like Carolyn Resnick’s Water Hole Rituals™, Barbara Rector’s Adventures in Awareness™, Lisa Walter’s work at EquuSatori™, and an approach called Transformational Horsemanship™ all reflect this philosophy.  It models transformational leadership, of leading from a place of service to the horse that is attuned with actual herd dynamics and horse leadership in the wild.  Keep in mind, in packs of predators the leader is the one who dominates. In herds of horses the leader is the one who watches out for the safety and well-being of the herd and is watched by the herd.  The diametrically different approaches resonate through the EFEL workshop and will deliver very different results.

6.) Does the program have additional, educationally-based coaching and support tools to engrain the work over time?  Change is process driven, not event driven.  A mindful EFEL workshop will impart a powerful shift in perspective, opening up the participants to seeing their world from a different orientation.  This is critical in cultivating adaptability and creative problem solving in today’s rapidly changing world.  But tools must also be provided that can be easily accessed and used in the workplace to support the shift in perspective.  Educationally-based coaching should also be available to further support professional growth the ensure lasting results.

7.) Is the program aligned with tangible business objectives that can be measured for return on investment?  This is exceptionally rare.  In fact, our firm is the only professional development company with EFEL programs that I know of that does this in every engagement.  Why is it so rare?  This lack of accountability grew out of the old team building and leadership events of the past.  Why didn’t ropes courses attempt to introduce metrics?  Probably because they delivered little, if any, tangible business value than a company picnic.  Don’t get me wrong, company outings can strengthen relationships, but they’re not developmental events.  Ask if the program conducts any baseline assessments, both with the participants and of the current state of the business.  Is there an exploration of immediate business objectives?  Is a gap analysis provided?  Is this documented?  Finally, does the firm establish performance metrics for both the individual participants and for the business?  Are follow-up assessments conducted?  Without these critical measurements in place it is very difficult to measure the outcomes and value you’re receiving from your investment.

Equine Facilitate Experiential Learning can be a powerful, innovative and enjoyable tool for professional development.  Like anything, the quality comes down to the details.

© 2012, Terry Murray.

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The Correlations Between Leadership, Competitiveness and Associate Engagement

Several interesting studies were released this week that, once again, draw attention to the impact leadership effectiveness has not only on companies, but our nation as well.  The Global Competitiveness Report, issued by the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, has identified the fact that the United States has dropped two places in comparative, national competitiveness.  The U.S. now ranks 7th in this listing.

Another report, released this week by the Society for Human Resource Management, identified the fact that only 29% of employees are “very satisfied” with their jobs.  The remaining 71% of employees surveyed stated they were either “somewhat satisfied” or “dissatisfied” with their work.  This provides the third point of triangulation in what is an eerily consistent picture.  These figures are nearly identical to studies previously issued by The Gallup Company and the Chartered Management Institute in the U.K. on employee disengagement levels.

Now, let’s correlate these consistent trends with the current state of leadership.  Just a little over a year ago, The McKinsey Quarterly conducted a massive study on leadership competencies of “C” level and one-step down executives and discovered that only 1% were ranked excellent in five of eight key leadership competencies.  Ten percent scored average and the remaining majority of 89% scored below average.  Coincidental or causal?  From my 24 years of business experience, much of it as an executive surrounded by that 89%, I’m going with causal.

Just as the Olympics were coming to a close, the USA Today had two front page stories, side-by-side.  One was entitled, “Sweet Victory”, and it gave the medal count that showed we’d just outpaced China’s medal count my a nose. Right next to this story was one entitled, “Companies’ Training Cuts Add To Job Woes”.  The reported identified 38% of companies provide cross-training for their employees today, down from 43% in 2011 and 55% in 2008.  These figures are also from the Society for Human Resource Management.  The consulting firm Accenture was also quoted in the article, stating that their research reveals only one out of five workers have cultivated new skills through employer provided training over the past five years.  This is in contrast to an average of two and a half weeks per year of employer provided training for their associates in the 1970s.

Why were our Olympic athletes successful?  I’d have to guess they were engaged in a rather rigorous training schedule!  So as sweet as this year’s victories may have been, we best brace ourselves for some bitter losses in the future as we continue to compete with China in the global economy.  China is churning out engineers, mathematicians and scientists at unprecedented levels.  They’ve set up Special Economic Zones and have created a litany of support, in terms of financing and infrastructure, for entrepreneurial companies.  In the past ten years, China has built 170 new airports and invested in high-speed rail.  In the same time frame, the U.S. has upgraded 7 airports and initiatives for light rail, never mind high-speed rail, have been dismissed in community after community, even when the Federal government offered to foot the bill under the stimulus package.

As leaders, we have a decision to make.  To authentically lead or continue what can only be described as a slash and burn approach to business-as-usual.  One thing’s for sure, this approach is unsustainable and we are slipping rapidly on the global stage.  History has identified our grandparents as The Greatest Generation.  If we don’t embrace a shift in perspective soon, I dread to think how history will remember our generation.

© 2012, Terry Murray.

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Terry Murray Discusses Leadership Development with Horses on The Career Clinic Show

I recently had the opportunity to appear on The Career Clinic Show with Maureen Anderson.  Maureen’s program is nationally syndicated on 25 terrestrial radio stations around the country.  During the interview we explored how our approach to experiential learning, called Transformational Horsemanship℠, cultivates the critical, relationship-based competencies leaders require in today’s multi-cultural, multi-generational, global business environments.  We had the opportunity to discuss the neuroscience, emotional intelligence, core mammalian emotional system, psychology, applied behavioral economics and quantum physics research that we integrate into our custom, professional development programs we deliver experientially through ground-based exercises with horses.

What we’ve learned over the past four years is how a person connects, engages and motivates a 1,200 pound sentient being without the use of touch, language or dominating, coercive behavior reflects the exact same way a person connects, engages and motivates fellow associates.  This mirror effect, when experienced first-hand by an executive, reveals our hidden biases or what Carl Jung called our shadow self…that part of our self we are not necessarily aware of but those around us may see clearly through our behaviors.

Much like the Gen X and Gen Y knowledge workers in today’s intellectual property-based economy, horses require congruency, authentic intention and clarity in order to join up with a leader.  Leadership in herds of prey animals differs dramatically from leadership in packs of predatory animals.  With predators, the leader is the one who dominates.  In herds of prey animals (like horses) the leader is the one who is watched and watches.  They are the sentinel that looks out for the well being of the herd.  This models the transformational leadership approach needed in today’s complex, rapidly changing world…leading from a perspective of service to those we are charged to lead.

Transactional leadership, the command and control approach honed during the Industrial Age, no longer serve us, as we can see by the endemic employee disengagement crisis (more than 70% of employees feel no connection or loyalty to their company ~ Gallup and the Chartered Management Institute) and the recently reported drop in worker productivity.  Each report that discussed the lower productivity numbers referenced the fact that companies may have squeezed all they can from their employees.  Squeezing workers on an assembly line in 1947 may have been representative of good management, but squeezing knowledge workers whose creativity, team cohesion and innovative thinking are key drivers of value creation in today’s world is anything but inspirational leadership.

It was a fun and lively interview…you’re more than welcome to listen to the podcast.

© 2012, Terry Murray.

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