The Star Factor
Discover What Your Top Performers Do Differently--and Inspire a New Level of Greatness in All
Authors: William Seidman, Richard Grbavac
Pub Date: December 2013
Print Edition: $25.00
Print ISBN: 9780814433201
Page Count: 240
e-Book ISBN: 9780814433218
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"We have a big problem." As consultants, we heard that phrase
from clients all the time, but in this particular instance it
got us started on the research that led us to the methodology
at the heart of this book.
We were sitting across the table from the vice president of
engineering for a large semi-conductor manufacturing company.
We had been brought in to examine the project management
practices being used to develop a critical new product.
The project was substantially behind schedule, over budget,
and torn apart by conflicts.
The troubles were due to dysfunction in the actual leadership
structure. The real leaders of the project, six star
performers, were completely overloaded. The other 650
people working on it were waiting for them to make decisions.
The company asked us to discover what made these
six stars so effective and then transfer that knowledge to others
so overall productivity could increase. Top management
knew that raising everyone to the level of their star performers
would have huge financial benefits.
They also said they really disliked consultants and loved
systems and tools. They asked us to create a system that could
gather the motivating factors and operational efficiencies of
their star performers' expertise and supplement it with soft-
ware tools that could efficiently transfer the stars' qualities to
It took us more than two years to do it, but eventually we
developed a system that specified what made these stars so
good at what they did. After another five years, we had developed
a repeatable, cost-effective system for raising others to
their level. This project was the genesis of the development
process in this book.
We worked for years with organizations in industries as
diverse as fast-food companies, government agencies, insurance
companies, and high-technology manufacturers. We
studied emerging neuroscience research on learning. We
came up with our methodology, which we call Affirmative
Leadership, to develop more and better leaders in all parts of
an organization and in any country or culture faster than people
thought possible. These leaders transform their organizations
into high-performing machines and their organizational
cultures into astoundingly great places to work.
We were willing and able to take on this work, because we
had been students of leadership. As employees of organizations,
then as consultants, we have seen a few great leaders
and well-run organizations but far more instances of inadequate
leadership and poor management. We have experienced
what made some leaders great and others not so great
and why some people developed into great leaders while others
For Bill, the serious quest to understand leadership began
with his doctoral work at Stanford where he studied the
effects of management training on group decision making. As
part of his dissertation, he developed a measurement tool that
could analyze and categorize a star's attitudes and behaviors
down to the single word or action.
Rick began thinking about and studying leadership in order
to make sense of how Jantzen, a once great company he loved,
declined. He found the dismaying results of weak leadership
that consistently missed changes to market conditions and
made poor decisions about how to respond to them.
In this book you will learn how to develop a comprehensive
Affirmative Leadership program. You will learn how to
use the science of "positive deviance" to identify and discover
your stars' wisdom. You will see how the neuroscience
of motivation creates intense motivation in others to learn
that wisdom. You will understand how the neuroscience of
learning guides learners into developing sustained leadership
skills that make a huge contribution to your organization.
Anyone and everyone can and should be an Affirmative
Leader regardless of their place on an organizational chart,
or in their country or culture. Finally, you will learn how creating
an organization rich in Affirmative Leaders changes
the organization's culture in ways that produce substantial
improvements in morale and financial performance.
The book is structured into two main sections. After a brief
overview of the science of Affirmative Leadership methodology
in Chapter 1, Chapters 2 to 8 show how to develop an
Affirmative Leadership program in any organization. They
describe the underlying science and actual techniques used
with hundreds of organizations to create Affirmative Leaders.
We use many examples from real companies, though we use
fictitious names and sometimes even change their industries
to preserve confidentiality.
Chapters 9 to 11 provide case studies of programs for executives,
first-line managers, and individual contributors. They
show the possibilities that developing Affirmative Leadership
in many roles in an organization can create and the problems
it can solve, such as driving a disruptive cultural change or
surviving a bankruptcy.
Chapter 12 is about the bottom line in two senses: the
impact of Affirmative Leadership programs on attitudes and
behaviors and the fi nancial results it produces. It shows that
nine out of ten people in an Affi rmative Leadership program
demonstrate the attitudes and behaviors of the stars. It also
shows how Affi rmative Leadership consistently achieves an
average return of twenty times the investment. These are
results any organization would value.
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