After earning her doctorate in education at the University of Rochester, Marlene Caroselli left the public classroom and her native New York State in 1980 and headed to the West Coast. She soon began working as a manager for Trizec Properties, Inc. and as an adjunct professor for UCLA, Clemson University, Michigan State University, and National University. Her university work led to training contracts with the Department of Defense and with such Fortune 100 firms as Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Allied-Signal.
In 1984, she founded the Center for Professional Development and began adding books to her list of professional achievements. Her first book, The Language of Leadership, was chosen a main selection by Newbridge’s Executive Development Book Club. Since that publication, she has written 44 additional books, including Quality Care, being offered as a three-day workshop by the American Society for Quality. Her latest book, Principled Persuasion: Influence with Integrity, Sell with Standards, was recently named a Director’s Choice by Doubleday Book Club.
MO: You started the Center for Professional Development in 1984 and written countless books, articles and blogs since. How would you say that the message for professional development has changed and evolved since you initially started?
Dr. Caroselli: Clearly, technology and social media are so much more a part of our professional lives since I started my business. But, the basic need to continuously improve/continuously develop the professional persona has not changed at all. Part of the improvement/development, of course, is acquiring proficiency in the techno-sphere. But the other proficiency-areas remain the same as when I started–communications, knowledge of finance, leadership, et cetera.
MO: What’s the difference between an average leader and a great one?
Dr. Caroselli: The average leader is more a manager, an insurer of the status quo. The great leaders are change agents. They have visions of what the status quo could become in the future and they commit themselves to reifying that vision. Great leaders are remembered for what they have done, what they have instituted. The average ones are not remembered for simply maintaining operations/processes that work.
MO: Should creativity play a big part in how people approach work? If so, what are the best ways to foster it in the workplace?
Dr. Caroselli: To quote a few people I admire: “Imagination is the only source of real value in the new economy” (Tom Peters) and “Imagination is more important than knowledge” (Einstein). The creativity inherent in our entrepreneurial leaders has had tremendous impact on our economy and will continue to do so. The best ways to foster it in the workplace is to have a non-punitive environment in which ideas are not mocked or ignored but rather, seriously considered. That sort of environment fully supports/reflects the import behind the words of Tom Peters: “If you have gone a whole week without being disobedient, you are doing yourself and your organization a disservice.”
MO: Do you think that leaders are born or made?
Dr. Caroselli: I’ve seen young children stand out in a crowd as “leaders.” But, I don’t think they were born that way. Rather they were nurtured into assuming a pro-active role. As far as adults are concerned, they can make themselves into leaders by tackling small projects that effect improvement–in their workplace, their neighborhood, the schools their children attend. Further, they can read about leaders and attempt to emulate some of the qualities/actions they most admire.
MO: Business is dynamic in nature, how can managers stay on their toes in a constantly changing environment?
Dr. Caroselli: They must read, listen, and benchmark. Here’s something I read today, for example, about the power of listening. It’s a quote from an article by Diana Rico:
“Lately I have been thinking about this business of listening. In mid-October I attended the 22nd Annual Bioneers Conference—a Bay Area gathering of 3,500 social, scientific and artistic innovators who shared practical and visionary solutions to the world’s environmental and social challenges. There, at a panel called “No Women, No Democracy: From the Streets of Cairo to Your Family,” I listened to the personal stories of three citizen-journalists from the global communications network World Pulse, which connects women via an interactive platform so that they can share their stories–a first critical step towards change.”
Benchmarking, including the analysis of practices in places other than our usual business interests, can yield remarkable insights and ideas for external awareness. These can then lead to effecting positive change in our immediate spheres.
MO: You’ve written over 60 books. What does your newest book, Jesus, Jonas, & Janus: The Leadership Triumvirate, say that you haven’t already communicated in previous publications?
Dr. Caroselli: This latest book (available on Kindle and Nook) derives leadership lessons from three historical figures. I’m including the Preface, so you can get more details about the thrust of the book.
This book was conceived when I gave a speech with the same title. In it, I explored the ways three prominent figures demonstrated leadership. No matter your religious affiliation (or lack thereof), no matter your knowledge of science, no matter your interest in really ancient history, there is much to be learned from the lessons these leaders taught—directly or indirectly.
Jesus, for example, was fond of vivid imagery and metaphor and parables. Nearly two thousand years later, we find management experts like Jim Kouses and Warren Bennis encouraging leaders to use these stylistic devices in their communications. In fact, one of the best management books around is titled Managing by Storying Around. In it, author David Armstrong recognizes the value of stories, as Jesus did so long ago. In a similar vein, Dave Packard and Bill Hewlett coined the phrase “management by walking around” to describe a person-oriented style of relating to others. Jesus of Nazareth, of course, did the very same thing as he walked among his people. He reached out and touched, long before lyricists and Madison Avenue ad writers made the phrase popular.
Jesus, Jonas, Janus looks at concepts associated with these prominent figures and applies those concepts to the practice of leading others. The frequently asked question, “What would Jesus do?” is one of several presented in the book. Additionally, we will look at “How did Jonas [Salk] solve problems?” and “How can the Janusian method be used to make good business practices better?”
Today, we have leadership authors like John Maxwell encapsulating leadership principles that, upon reflection, are echoes of what was being done centuries ago. “Others will not care about how much you know,” Maxwell asserts, “until they know how much you care.” Those familiar with the Bible are also familiar with Jesus’ manner of comforting those who were poor or suffering.
(The difference between those who genuinely care and those who may use the less fortunate as a career opportunity is perhaps best illustrated by an encounter between Mother Teresa and a reporter. She was tending to the lepers in the Shanti Nagar (“Town of Peace”) colony. A reporter was shadowing her, looking for photo ops. At one point, as she reached down to comfort a man infected with the disease, his skin disfigured by sores, she overheard the reporter’s distaste for the scene. “Ugh,” he said under his breath. I wouldn’t touch that man with a ten- foot pole!” “Neither would I,” was Mother Teresa’s rejoinder, as she leaned over the man to comfort him and laid her hands on his head.)
The book is divided into three parts, one for each member of the leadership triumvirate. It is not intended to provide background information or extensive biographical information about the triumvirate. Instead, I’ve distilled my knowledge of these three figures into a single word. And, we’ll explore that word in relation to leadership. We’ll focus on the concept of PRINCIPLES as we study the words of Jesus. We’ll examine NATURE as the result of Dr. Jonas Salk’s recognition of its importance in problem-solving. And, we’ll learn how the concept of OPPOSITES relates to leadership in the section named for the Roman god of beginnings (and ends).
Within each of the large divisions are chapter titles related to the three main concepts. leader’s style. You’ll find, too, suggestions for further learning, questions for consideration, exercises in which you may wish to engage. Because I consider writing a means of “teaching on paper” (or on a computer screen, in the case of an e-book), I’ve made this a self-help book for the business person hoping to flex his or her leadership muscles. Ideally, not only will those metaphorical muscles grow more solid, but your colleagues and customers will benefit from your exercise and exploration as well.
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