Make Learning Sweet – Featured Interview with Erika Andersen

Business Thinker, Speaker, and Author

Erika Andersen talks to Bill Ringle on My Quest for the Best about leadership, strategic planning, and why it’s never ok to tell other people to do the things that you, yourself, are not doing.

Listen to this interview to learn:

  • Why being a novice is so important for business leaders.
  • How executives have started to put resources behind developing their own leaders and managers to succeed at a higher level.
  • Why it’s important for learning to be sweet
  • What key inflection points made the biggest difference in growing Proteus in the last 10 years.
  • Six characteristics and skill sets of effective leaders.

Interview Insights

Click to Read the Show Notes

1:47 How Andersen’s work with Tim Galway in the 80s started her on her chosen career path.

2:10 “I really loved the whole focus on how organizations learn and don’t and how individuals learn and don’t.”

3:08 “I began Proteus in 1990 and it was really, from the beginning, the focus was helping our clients, both organizations and individuals clarify and work towards their hope for a future.”

4:35 [On her second book, Being Strategic] – “There really isn’t even a common definition about what it means to be strategic.”

4:50 [Definition of being strategic] – “Consistently making those core directional choices that will best move you towards your hope for a future. And that implies knowing what that hope for a future is.”

5:14 “If you don’t know where you’re trying to go, either individually or organizationally, and have some pretty clear stakes in the ground about what success will look like, and you don’t know where you’re starting from, you don’t have an accurate sense of your beginning point, then how can you make those core directional choices?”

6:13 “You need to know where you’re starting from, you need to know where you’re gonna get to, you need to be able to make those core statements of intention, which is what strategy is, and then consistency is filling them in with tactics.”

6:46 [Ideal Clients] – “Ideal clientness, in our mind, really has to do with openness. If someone is really open to new ways of operating, new ways of thinking about their situation, new skills, new techniques, new models…if someone is open, it makes it a 150M times easier to work with them.”

7:10 “Our ideal client is curious, honestly.”

8:07 “Even though our mission is very clear in helping people move toward their hope for a future, we have three practice areas where we work to do that.”

8:37 [On strengthening leaders] – “Even if you’re clear about your hope for a future, if you don’t have good, authentic leaders who can help you move in that direction, it’s probably not going to happen.”

9:10 What it means to have be at an inflection point.

10:04 “A lot of what I personally do is in that vision and strategy area.”

10:32 The story of how Andersen helped a media company be more mindful about their upcoming future.

12:09 “Quite often, in my experience, strategic planning is not satisfying. It is too abstract, too theoretical – people don’t often leave with a map, they leave with this huge binder that doesn’t really direct their actions.”

13:32 [On helping people open up to change] – “If it seems like there’s going to be a high degree of skepticism, we make sure to talk to people beforehand and explain the process to them, and, in some cases, show them.”

14:45 [On the benefits of making it fun] – “I’ve always felt as though when people feel powerful and engaged and ‘this is my thing,’ then they can learn. Learning doesn’t happen unless people feel like their having a good time.”

15:59 “The learning arises from inside the learner, and should be drawn out.”

17:06 “People are more interested in doing vision and strategy work than they were 3 or 4 years ago.”

17:27 “Senior executives are more cognizant of the fact that what helped them get through, and is still helping them get through, tough times is having great people who are really skilled, and smart, and productive, and committed to the enterprise.”

18:55 “My belief is that we are wired as human beings to look for certain characteristics in leaders.”

20:11 “I think whatever the circumstance, whatever the culture, people continue to look for these certain elements in people that they will allow to lead them.”

20:57 The six characteristics and skill sets of effective leaders.

23:07 [Definition of politics] – “The web and influence of power through which you need to navigate to reach your goals.”

23:24 [Politics in the workplace] – “To figure out in the organization who are your allies, who are your adversaries, and who are your fence sitters.”

25:05 The path that Proteus has taken to be successful and some important milestones along the way.

25:40 “It really shifts things when you have a book published. When it does well and it gets reviewed well and it gets published by a major publisher that really shifts the landscape and people really see you differently.”

26:50 [On tenability within Proteus] – “What an important thing it is for you to choose well and make certain that you’re well suited to your business partner.”

27:50 “We are really rigorous about practice what we preach.”

29:36 [The story of Mahatma Gandhi and the boy who ate too much sugar] – “It’s not ok to tell other people to do the things that you yourself are not doing.”

Expert Bio

Since 1980, Erika Andersen has developed a reputation for creating approaches to learning and business-building that are uniquely tailored to her clients’ challenges, goals, and culture. She and her colleagues at Proteus International, Inc. offer practical methods and skills for individuals, teams, and companies to clarify and then achieve their hoped-for-future.

Much of her recent work has focused on organizational visioning and strategy, executive coaching, and management and leadership development. In these capacities she has served as consultant and advisor to the CEOs and top executives of a number of corporations, including MTV Networks, Rockwell Automation, Turner Broadcasting, GE, TJX, NBC Universal, Union Square Hospitality Group, and Cablevision Corporation.

She has been invited to share her insights about managing people and creating successful businesses by speaking to corporations, non-profit groups and national associations. Her books and learning guides have been translated into several languages, and she has been quoted in a variety of national publications, including Glamour, Fortune, and The New York Times. She is the author of Growing Great Employees: Turning Ordinary People into Extraordinary Performers and Being Strategic: Plan for Success; Outthink Your Competitors; Stay Ahead of Change, as well as the author and host of Being Strategic with Erika Andersen on Public Television.

For more information, visit Erika’s website.

Contact Info for Erika Andersen

Business Phone: 212-830-9870

Web address: ErikaAndersen.com

Travels From: New York, NY

Follow Erika:

Twitter

Books by Erika Andersen