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ask mentor for help 11 7 2010

ask mentor for help 11 7 2010 - CORNER OFFICE...

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CORNER OFFICE Ask Your Mentor for Help, Not for Brownie Points NY Times Published: November 6, 2010 This interview with  Martha S. Samuelson,  president and C.E.O. of the  Analysis Group , a  consulting firm, was conducted and condensed by  Adam Bryant .   Martha S. Samuelson, president and C.E.O. of the Analysis Group, a consulting firm, says that choosing a mentor for political reasons is a mistake. Instead, she says, “find somebody you like” and make it easy for that person to give advice. Q.  What were some important leadership lessons for you?   A.  Early on, when it started becoming clear where I was going to go in the company, the two  founders brought in an organizational consultant to facilitate our discussions. It kind of  leveled everything. I could disagree with the founders, and the consultant would say: “Wait a  minute. She may have a point here.”  It was a remarkable thing to do, because it put everybody on the same playing field. It really  influenced the way I run the company, by inviting feedback.  I’ve had a consultant interview all the partners about how I’m doing and what should be  changed, even what makes them nervous. I’m not sure I would have done that if not for that  model early on — that this is what you do, running an organization, to help people come  along. You sometimes have to bring in somebody who’s going to remove the boss/nonboss  dynamic. 
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I also interviewed all of the partners, about 35 of them, probably three or four years ago  about how the firm’s being run, what they think of me, what about the future, who do they  see as future leaders.  It was a lot of work, but I learned a lot. The process is a good thing in and of itself.  As we’ve become a bigger firm, I find process is just more and more important. One thing  that’s different about professional services compared to other organizations is that we’re kind  of all doing the same thing. So a really important part of my job is having the partners all  feel that they’re better off here than in another organization. And “better off” means lots of  things. It’s certainly not just financial. It’s all the other utility around being in an  organization. People need to feel like I care about what they’re thinking and whether they  think things are working well, and how we can improve.  Q.   What else did you learn from the organizational consultant?   A.  The thing he did that was so unusual was he really tried to get in the head of people.  What is this person thinking? What is that person thinking? Not, what am I thinking, but  what is the person I’m disagreeing with thinking? What’s motivating them? That’s been 
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