Rosabeth Moss Kanter holds the Ernest L. Arbuckle Professorship at Harvard Business School, where she specializes in strategy, innovation, and leadership for change. Her strategic and practical insights have guided leaders of large and small organizations worldwide for over 25 years, through teaching, writing, and direct consultation to major corporations and governments. The former Editor of Harvard Business Review (1989-1992), Professor Kanter has been named to lists of the "50 most powerful women in the world" (Times of London), and the "50 most influential business thinkers in the world" (Accenture and Thinkers 50 research). In 2001, she received the Academy of Management's Distinguished Career Award for her scholarly contributions to management knowledge, and in 2002 was named "Intelligent Community Visionary of the Year" by the World Teleport Association.
Kanter is well known for her classic 1977 study of "tokenism" on how being a minority can affect one's performance due to enhanced visibility and performance pressure. She is the author or co-author of 17 books, focused largely on business management techniques, especially change management. Her most recent book, America the Principled: 6 Opportunities for Becoming a Can-Do Nation Once Again sets forward a positive agenda for the nation. Her previous book, Confidence: How Winning Streaks & Losing Streaks Begin & End was a New York Times business bestseller and a BusinessWeek #1 bestseller. The book draws on more than 300 interviews with leaders in business, sport and politics to explore the role confidence plays in the performance of institutions and individuals.
Question: What makes a great leader?
Rosabeth Moss Kanter: I'm impressed by the Nobel laureate from Africa whose projects was planting trees and getting other women in the village to plant trees. That's very powerful. It starts with a small act, but it starts with finding what strength you have and what you can do. So my highest values have to do with unlocking the potential in people. I know that sounds a little, but it's still a good thing to do! And it could be, if we're lucky, the 21st century mode. We've been through several decades of cynicism where hard numbers drove out other kinds of thinking … where we had a little bit of greed in the United States because, well, people could. There was money to be made. And I'm hoping that we'll enter an era of hope.
Recorded on: 6/13/07
Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com