Q&A with Ram Charan
Q: You identify 8 know-hows. Can you take us through one of them?
A: In this time of continual change, money making or business models are becoming obsolete more frequently than ever before. It wasn't that long ago when AOL was king of the hill. That leadership was taken over by Yahoo. Now Yahoo is at a crossroads and the leadership has been taken over by Google. So far Google is ahead. It has the central recipe to increase its revenues via advertising because it knows how to measure advertising effectiveness better than anybody else. Leaders at both AOL and Yahoo must be scratching their heads trying to figure out how to reposition the company to make money in the new context. Repositioning is a know-how. It's hard work, and it requires imagination. We will have an opportunity to see about the decision made by Time Warner top brass to summarily replace Jim Miller with Randy Falco of NBC Universal. Randy has a distinguished record. He will have to demonstrate one of the most crucial know-hows in this book: Can he reposition AOL for the new game, and in time? Cost cutting is not the answer.
Q: How can you build your know-how, or help others develop theirs?
A: No talented athlete ever became a champion without consistent regular practice in the right way, along with feedback and hard work. There are no short cuts.That's why you should start practicing early in your career by taking assignments that will help you cultivate the know-hows and seeking out bosses you can learn from.
Q: Many people think of leaders as having innate traits that set them apart from the rest of us. Are you saying we should be looking at skills instead of personality?
A: At the time somebody enters the work force, a great deal of his or her personality has been formed. Most people who talk about leadership today talk about personality, personality, personality. Personality traits, presence, charisma--they will experience attrition if you don't practice them in the context of know-hows. Personality traits and know-hows reinforce each other. In the 21st century, the transparency of results is immediate. Failure is detected very early. Dependence on personality traits without the mastery of the know-hows is a recipe for disaster.
Q: What do you think about the future?
A: The future is very bright. The global economy will continue to expand. There will be more demand for leaders than ever before. Master the know-hows. Hone your personality traits while you're mastering the know-hows. Don't forget that your success must come in the context of global competition. Take the opportunity to win.
Read the First Chapter of Know-How
The Substance of Successful Leaders
Know-how is what separates leaders who perform--who deliver results--from those who don't. It is the hallmark of people who know what they are doing, those who build longterm intrinsic value and hit short-term targets. What gets in the way of finding people who can perform is the appearance of leadership. All too often I see people being chosen for leadership jobs on the basis of superficial personal traits and characteristics, such as:
• The seduction of raw intelligence: "He's extremely bright, incisive, and very analytical. I just feel in my gut he can do the job."
• A commanding presence and great communication skills: "That presentation was awesome. How she ever boiled down all that data onto the PowerPoints is beyond me. She certainly had the committee in the palm of her hand. Mark my words, she's going to the top."
• The power of a bold vision: "What a picture he painted of where we are going, moving forward."
• The notion of a born leader: "The people in the unit love her. Such a morale builder and motivator!"
Certainly intelligence, self-confidence, presence, the ability to communicate, and having a vision are important. But being highly intelligent doesn't mean that a person has the knack for making good business judgments. How many times have you seen people confidently making decisions that turn out to be disastrous? How often have you heard a vision that turned out to be nothing more than rhetoric and hot air? Read more from Chapter 1...
–Ron Meyer, president and COO, Universal Studios
"If you believe (as I do) that 'leaders are made,' or more precisely, choose to lead and to develop their skills as leaders, then you will find Ram Charan's very practical book on the eight 'know-hows' that are the foundation for leadership performance and success a very worthwhile read."
–A.G. Lafley, chairman and CEO, Proctor & Gamble
"Ram Charan has hit the nail on-the-head by constructively linking personal attributes and business success. His is an important message at an important time for business leaders."
–James McNerney, Jr., chairman, president and CEO, The Boeing Company
"Ram Charan cuts through the fog and 'mystique of the leader' with bold, fresh insights into the real substance of business leadership. What is truly pathbreaking is Know-How's integration of the eight skills for running a business with the personal and psychological traits of the successful leader. It is the must-have book if you want to differentiate yourself from the pack."
–Bill Conaty, senior vice president, human resources, General Electric
"Uniquely Charan. Pactical, insightful, application-oriented and full of wisdom. Read it and then refer to i frequently to enrigh your career. A real treasure."
–Larry Bossidy, retired chairman and CEO of Honeywell International and co-author of Execution and Confronting Reality
"Know-How is the distilled wisdom of one of our era's most insightful business minds. How do you achieve great business performance? Ram Charan knows how."
–Geoffrey Colvin, editor-at-large, Fortune magazine
"What Peter Drucker's The Practice of Management and The Effective Executive were to the 20th century industrial age, Ram Charan's Know-How is to the 21st century global digital knowledge worker age. Brilliant, immensely practical and comprehensive- with almos self evident prophetic wisdom. But, as we all know, what is common sense is seldom common practice."
–Stephen R. Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and The 8th Habit
"Know-How brings the complex subject of business leadership down to earth with practial advice on what you really need to know to run a business."
–Michael J. Critelli, chairman and CEO, Pitney Bowes
"Know-How puts to rest a lot of myths and false assumptions about the job of a leader. In a commonsense, practical way, it provides eight how-tos that are the foundation of leadership. Know-How is a breakthrough book for leaders and those who aspire to a leadership job."
–James M. Kilts, Centerview Partners, former chairman and CEO of Gillette
"Ram has an unparalleled track record of providing executives with compelling yet practical advice on how to succeed in tumultuous business environments. Know-How continues the tradition, defining in detail the performance factors that can give executives a competitive edge no matter how markets evolve."
–Ivan G. Seidenberg, chairman and CEO of Verizon