Executive Times

Volume 7, Issue 5

May, 2005


ã 2005 Hopkins and Company, LLC

Note re: links---certain hyperlinks assume that you are registered as a subscriber to the site. If you are not a subscriber to certain sites, the links will fail. If you register, the links should work. Also, certain hyperlinks expire and may not be available when you try to go to the site.


In matters of fashion and taste, we expect styles to come into favor and fall out regularly, but managers can become caught off guard when the leadership style that’s worked in the past begins to fail. The take-charge decisiveness that produced success yesterday can be perceived today as acting without appropriate input from others. Some managers pay attention to gradual changes in expectations and can make modest changes in style to respond to a new environment, provided those changes are genuine. The most effective executives know who they are, and won’t change what’s essential and defining as an individual. Personality style or type describes who we are, and each of us has healthy and unhealthy aspects of that same personality. What can be a positive trait for a close attention to detail often turns ugly when it becomes incessant perfectionism. One key to executive success involves capitalizing on the positive aspects of personality type, implementing those in a leadership style, and selecting colleagues who have complementary traits and skills. Lots of news stories in recent weeks have focused on the style of leaders, and how the right fit becomes critical. As you read and reflect on the stories in this issue, think about your personality and leadership style, and how well it fits your current role at work. Are you vulnerable to an emerging misfit to expectations? How have your strengths become obstacles to success in certain situations? Are you play-acting at work, or are you being yourself?


Fifteen new books are rated in this issue, beginning on page 5. One book is highly recommended with a four-star rating; ten books are recommended with three stars; and four are mildly recommended with two star ratings. Visit our 2005 bookshelf at http://www.hopkinsandcompany.com/2005books.html and see the rating table explained as well as explore links to all books we’re reading or considering this year. Twenty nine new books have been added to the “shelf of possibility,” which now has over 230 books in queue. If there’s something missing from the bookshelf that you think we should be considering, or if there’s a book lingering on the “shelf of possibility” that you think we should read and review, let us know at books@hopkinsandcompany.com.


Neither Jung nor Kiersey nor the Enneagram have labeled one of the personality types “bully,” but we encounter that type throughout our lives, from the schoolyard through the nursing home. As this issue went to press, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee had not voted on the nomination by President Bush of John Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations. During hearings in April, concerns arose over Bolton’s mistreatment of subordinates and partisan fur has been flying for weeks. The April 12 testimony of Carl W. Ford, Jr., former head of the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research said of Bolton, “I've never seen anybody quite like Secretary Bolton. I don't have a second, third or fourth in terms of the way that he abuses his power and authority with little people. He's a quintessential kiss-up, kick-down sort of guy, … a serial abuser.” Committee Chairman Dick Luger said on April 19, “The President has made it clear that this is not a casual appointment. He wants a specific person to do a specific job. We should recognize that the UN Ambassador always is closely associated with the President and the Secretary of State. They are responsible for what the Ambassador says and does, and they can dismiss the Ambassador if he does not follow their directives. I do not think the concerns raised about Secretary Bolton warrant our rejection of the President’s selection for his own representative to the UN.” Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice told CNN the following day, “I think we make a mistake when suddenly comments about management style become part of the confirmation process.” This brouhaha has been fascinating to observe, whether or not you think Bolton will be effective as UN ambassador. Bolton’s views and behavior have been clear and consistent. Style and personality type have a huge impact on an individual’s suitability to perform a specific role. At this stage in his life, John Bolton is who he is. Powerful politicians are at odds on whether he’s the right person to be UN ambassador, and few will disagree that with Bolton, what we see is what we get.

In using your power and authority, how are you being perceived by others? Would the phrase, “quintessential kiss-up, kick-down” ever apply to you? Does it apply to anyone who reports to you, or to a peer? What’s the impact of that behavior on your organization? Does your passion, enthusiasm or conviction ever come across as bullying? What would the “little people” in your organization say when asked to comment about you? When you select someone for a specific job, how important a factor is personality type and management style?


When the College of Cardinals selected seventy eight year old Joseph Ratzinger as Pope Benedict XVI, we were reminded of a comment by Mark Shields that in 1988, voters awarded G.H.W. Bush with what should have been Ronald Reagan’s third term. There seems to be an expectation of continuity in the transition from Pope John Paul II to Benedict XVI. In many ways, though, the two personalities couldn’t be more different. John Paul, the extroverted former actor, left administrative details to others while he pushed himself from place to place and person to person. Benedict, the introvert, has spent his life as a scholar and administrator, working behind the scenes, calling little attention to himself. At selection time, John Paul was in his fifties and athletic, while Benedict is beyond the usual ecclesial retirement age. The parallels with personality type and role transformation in business seems striking. HP changes from rockstar Carly Fiorina to low-key Mark Hurd. Disney moves from creative Michael Eisner to operating maven Bob Iger. The same role at different times of selection leads the selectors to choose one personality type yesterday and another type today, often in direct reaction to the impact of the former leader. For those executives who sit in a line of succession, there may be some advantages in having a personality type different from whoever’s in the seat above you.


Have you consciously taken into account the personality type best suited to a job that reports to you? When looking for a job for yourself, what steps do you take to consider whether your personality fits the desired role and the organization’s culture? Are certain personality types in and out of favor in your organization? How does your personality type and those of your direct reports fit into the preferred types for your organization and your roles?



Life for Morgan Stanley CEO Phil Purcell continues to be interesting. Executive conflicts dating back to the 1997 Dean Witter Morgan Stanley merger remain unresolved, and vocal outcries for Purcell’s ouster have accelerated. Bethany McLean and Andy Serwer report in a comprehensive article in Fortune’s May 2 issue (http://www.fortune.com/fortune/subs/article/0,15114,1050178,00.html) on the corporate civil war. We noted the following: “One former Morgan executive says he heard Purcell complain, ‘At Dean Witter, I tell people to turn left, and they turn left. At Morgan Stanley, they look at me and ask why.’ There is a broader cultural question too. Many of the Morgan Stanley people are Ivy Leaguers, and Purcell is a Notre Dame grad from Chicago. Yet Purcell, the stockbroker guy, has consistently outmaneuvered the boys from the Yale Club. A former Morgan banker puts it best: Morgan Stanley is a ‘bunch of white-shoe guys who, to my amazement, have completely gotten their pants pulled down by Phil Purcell.’” Mergers are often hotbeds of conflicting corporate cultures fighting for dominance. Within a short period of time, one style emerges as the new corporate standard. So far, that hasn’t happened at Morgan Stanley, performance is suffering for a variety of reasons, and the pressure on Purcell is mounting. According to Fortune, “The headlines are taking a toll. ‘Phil needs to go because he's not making people feel proud to work at Morgan Stanley,’ says a former managing director. ‘People feel almost ashamed. When you work at Morgan Stanley, you expect to pick up the paper and read about an important transaction that Morgan was involved in. You don't expect to read about a steak-a-thon.’ (Morgan has just gotten slapped on the wrist by regulators for offering steaks to brokers who pushed in-house products.)” Could it be true that after all this time, Purcell, who came from the Dean Witter side, doesn’t understand that while getting red meat may appeal to retail brokers, the elite bankers from Morgan Stanley dine on finer food in loftier venues? Whether or not Purcell becomes a casualty of this civil war remains unclear. One way or another, performance needs to improve and these cultural distractions can’t continue.


Are there in-groups and out-groups in your organization? What’s the impact of that situation on performance? What steps do you take to address and resolve conflict? Do you expect people to turn left when you say so, or do you expect questions about why? Does your culture invite “why” questions, and when you get them, how do you respond? 


Executives who use the language of personality type at work, or who implement personality testing need to proceed with caution. A little knowledge about personality types can turn workers into a militant army of amateur psychologists. Using outside psychologists to implement testing can lead to some warranted paranoia in the workplace, especially when test results are used in key decisions like promotions. Type can also be a catch-all to try to explain away bad behavior: “that’s just who I am; all ABCD’s act that way.” On learning about personality types and being labeled an ENTJ under the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, one executive commented, “Great. One more four letter word to use about me.” There are many resources for executives looking for personality type information, some of which are geared specifically to the impact of personality type in the workplace. We recommend Type Talk At Work by Otto Kroeger and Janet Thuesen. For a quick online MBTI test, try http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/JTypes2.asp. However implemented at work, the key objective is to eliminate obstacles to effectiveness through increased understanding of what works.


Have you ever wondered why a peer can thoroughly enjoy a meeting at work that usually drives you nuts? Are you frustrated when someone who reports to you never seems to follow through on their commitments? Do you know the ways in which your personality type helps and hurts you in key relationships at work?



Here are selected updates on stories covered in prior issues of Executive Times:


Ø      If you felt minor déjà vu on page 3, you may recall that in the April 2001 issue of Executive Times we mentioned Phil Purcell as the winner in the Morgan Stanley Dean Witter merger with the departure of John Mack, longtime Morgan Stanley executive, and mentioned their personality differences and some of the cultural issues at the firm. Who would have thought those same concerns would still exist years later? So, what’s John Mack up to these days? According to all the business press, he and former Home Depot executive Ken Langone are exploring the purchase of the New York Stock Exchange. As we went to press, that effort may be stalling, according to The Wall Street Journal (4/27) (http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB111454547958617447,00.html).



When Alex Trotman took charge of Ford Motor Company in 1993, the company was still reeling from a then-record loss of $2.3 billion in 1991. In a competent and low-key manner, Trotman began a program to reduce costs, calling little attention to himself, unlike famous predecessors Henry Ford II and Lee Iacocca. Born in England and raised in Scotland, Trotman spoke bluntly with a Scots brogue, and was a company man at Ford for a 43 year career. In 1995 he launched a visionary project called Ford 2000, restructuring the company and cutting out $5 billion in costs. By 1997, Ford was earning almost $7 billion a year, more than any other company had earned. He marched to the beat of his own drum, shunning Grosse Point to live in Ann Arbor, and preferring to collect clocks rather than play golf. His sense of humor endeared him to many. Unlike General Motors counterpart Roger Smith who avoided Michaell Moore and camera leading to the movie Roger and Me, Trotman donned overalls for Moore’s camera and spent an hour demonstrating how to change the oil in a Ford Explorer, proving that some executives can succeed in a hands-on manner, and avoiding an unflattering cinematic legacy. According to the Detroit Free Press (4/26/05) (http://www.freep.com/money/autonews/trotman26e_20050426.htm), “David Cole, director of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, called Trotman ‘a real company man from the very beginning. ... He wasn't a leader like Iacocca, with so much attention on himself. He was sort of a backroom executive. He was more somebody that governed from the team perspective rather than an individual perspective. He'll be remembered well as a good executive, during a period of absolutely incredible prosperity.’” When Trotman retired from Ford in 1998, two individuals took over his job: Jac Nasser, who lasted until 2001 as CEO, and William Clay Ford as chairman. Both benefited greatly from the legacy Trotman left behind in the form of a stronger, more prosperous company. Trotman was knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 1996 and was named Lord Trotman of Osmotherly in 1999. He died in late April after a short illness. His blunt talk, calm effectiveness, and the way he called little attention to himself remain a model for executives to emulate.


Latest Books Read and Reviewed:

 (Note: readers of the web version of Executive Times can click on the book covers to order copies directly from amazon.com.  When you order through these links, Hopkins & Company receives a small payment from amazon.com.  Click on the title to read the review or visit our 2005 bookshelf at http://www.hopkinsandcompany.com/2005books.html).


Title (Link to Review)



Review Summary


East Side Story

Auchincloss, Louis

Perpetuation. 60th novel of upper class New York life. In this version, the fictional Carnochans strive to meet family expectations  and obligations across multiple generations.

Ulysses S. Grant

Bunting, III, Josiah

Imperturbability. 18th U.S. President’s reputation as the drunken leader of a scandal-ridden administration offset in this biography by his competence, character and composure in the face of all obstacles.

When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops?

Carlin, George

Riffs. Reading Carlin not the same as listening, but the intensity remains throughout adolescent humor and middle aged grumpiness on a wide range of topics, including a long and funny section on euphemisms.

Chronicles: Volume 1

Dylan, Bob

Rambling. Thoughtful memoir by talented artist full of surprises for readers about life, art, and celebrity told with candor and in a rambling style that gradually reveals character and life choices.

How We Are Hungry

Eggers, Dave

Impulses. Short story collection showcases talented writer’s exploration of what people are looking for in life and how our impulses alternate from base to civilized as we try to get what we want.

Conspiracy of Fools

Eichenwald, Kurt

Incompetence. Lengthy (650+ pages before notes) and well-told story of what happened at Enron when the wrong people were hired and allowed to run free. Enron lacked leaders with competence, character and good judgment.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Foer, Jonathan Safran

Grief. Well-written, creative novel in which nine-year-old protagonist grieving the death of his father in the World Trade Center tragedy of 9/11 finds a key in his father’s possessions and searches for a lock.


Follett, Ken

Stormy. Bio-terror strikes a lab in Scotland and the owner’s family, gathered for Christmas, meet villains and heroes, while working through their own complicated relationships.

Buying a Fishing Rod for My Grandfather

Gao, Xingjian

Reflective. Sparse, delicate prose in six stories by Nobel winner. Fine writing and insights lead to prolonged reflection.

French Women Don't Get Fat

Guiliano, Mireille

Grande. Veuve Clicquot CEO shares her life story and personal dietary habits and recipes (top quality, seasonal, small portions). Read review and discover our purveyor of Belgian chocolate.

The Kite Runner

Hosseini, Khaled

Soars. Superb debut novel of transformations, personal and political, among Afghans. Complex characters, vivid descriptions, loss and redemption.

The Ha-Ha

King, Dave

Connections. Finely written unique debut novel with brain-damaged narrator who can’t speak or write as clearly as he thinks, and connects in multiple memorable relationships.

The New Normal

McNamee, Roger

Munchies. Tidbits a la Fast Company, full of definitive statements, with no articulated basis for the conclusions drawn. More junk food than balanced diet.

Prince of Fire

Silva, Daniel

Fidelity. In this fifth Gabriel Allon novel, the protagonist’s loyalty to his wife, his mentor, his country and himself are all challenged as the past returns with vengeance.

America (The Book): A Citizens Guide to Democracy

Stewart, Jon

Playful. Mock civics textbook leaves few people, ideas and events unmolested. The Daily Show brand of humor includes hilarious discussion questions and classroom activities.


ã 2005 Hopkins and Company, LLC.  Executive Times is published monthly by Hopkins and Company, LLC at the company’s office at 723 North Kenilworth Avenue, Oak Park, Illinois 60302. Subscription rate for first class mail delivery of the print version is $60.00 per year (12 issues). Web version subscriptions are $30.00 per year. Single issues: $10.00 print; $5.00 web. To subscribe, sign up at www.hopkinsandcompany.com/subscribe.html, send an e-mail to executivetimes@hopkinsandcompany.com, call (708) 466-4650, or fax to (708) 386-8687. For permission to photocopy or e-mail Executive Times, call (708) 466-4650 or e-mail to reprints@hopkinsandcompany.com. We will send sample copies if requested. The company’s website at http://www.hopkinsandcompany.com/archives.html contains the archives of back issues beginning in the month after the issue date. 

To subscribe to Executive Times, sign up at www.hopkinsandcompany.com/subscribe.html and we’ll bill you later.  Consider giving clients or friends Executive Times as a gift. Gift subscriptions to the web version include an e-mail notification of the gift.  Print version gift subscriptions can also include “Compliments of (giver)” with your corporate logo on each copy. 

About Hopkins & Company

In addition to publishing Executive Times, Hopkins & Company engages in a variety of other activities focused on helping executives succeed, including:

Ø      Coaching: helping individuals or teams find ways to do more of what works for them, and ways to avoid what's ineffective

Ø      Consulting: helping executives solve business problems, especially in the areas of strategy, service to market, performance and relationship management

Ø      Communications: helping executives improve their written and oral messages

To engage the services of Hopkins & Company, call Steve Hopkins at 708-466-4650 or visit www.hopkinsandcompany.com.