passion - CORNER OFFICE OnPassionandPlayinginTraffic...

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CORNER OFFICE On Passion and Playing in Traffic  Published: December 5, 2009 This interview with  Joseph J. Plumeri , chairman and chief executive of  Willis   Group Holdings , the insurance brokerage, was conducted and condensed by  Adam Bryant.   Enlarge This Image Uli Seit for The New York Times Joseph J. Plumeri, chairman and chief executive of the insurance broker Willis Group Holdings, says he is learning to stay in charge while easing off on “command and control.” Corner Office Every Sunday, Adam Bryant talks with top executives about the challenges of leading and  managing. More ‘Corner Office’ Columns » Subscribe to Corner Office via RSS » Add to Portfolio Willis Group Holdings Limited Go to your Portfolio » Q.  How has your leadership style evolved? A.  I was once a command-and-control guy, but the environment’s different  today. I think now it’s a question of making people feel they’re making a  contribution, and they’re part of the process. In the end, you’re still directing  the process, but you’re allowing for the collaboration and debate to take  place, which in a command-and-control environment doesn’t happen.
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A command-and-control environment is where you have a meeting and you  say, “This is what I think; what do you think?” The good news about that  was there was no question about where we were going, and what we were  going to do. And if it works, that’s terrific. The problem is when it doesn’t  work, and people start to grow and feel like they’ve got more to contribute,  it wears out. I think that’s what happened to that whole command-and- control approach.  Q.  What made you start out as a command-and-control leader? A.  My key role models were very strong individuals. And then you add your  own personality, which in my case is big dreams, anything’s possible, zeal  and work 24 hours a day. But you get to a point where you realize not  everybody wants to work seven days a week, and not everybody has this as  their main passion in life. And you find that you can wear people down by  being overly zealous, and what you think is motivating is de-motivating. I thought I was being exciting. I thought I was being motivational. And as it  turns out, being too exciting and too motivational is overbearing, and it  turns people off. You justify it by saying, if they can capture my zeal and my  passion, that’s a good thing. But you’ve got to make sure that you don’t turn  up the music to the point where it’s so loud that they don’t want to hear it. Q. 
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passion - CORNER OFFICE OnPassionandPlayinginTraffic...

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