Getting to Yes, And

Linda Ginzel: Choosing Leadership


Linda Ginzel

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Kelly has an inspiring conversation with renowned Booth School of Business professor Linda Ginzel about her new workbook: "Choosing Leadership."

We talk about improvisation as a way to practice the skills we need to use in the workplace - that you would never come to Second City and think the actors didn’t rehearse or go to a Cubs game and think the players didn’t warm up. But, in business, somehow, we think we don’t need the practice?

“So I'm actually working to change the conversation around leadership because I think that a lot of people think about leaders as specific individuals, so they say, ‘I'm just a manager. Someday I'll be a leader.’ I really am trying to get people to think about leading and managing as verbs as opposed to nouns. So, the behaviors, as you said, benefit from practice. And even something like courage as a skill. And if you want to be more courageous than you can start with a small act of courage and then continue to practice courage and your identity follows behaviors. So yeah, it's all about practice. I love the way you said that.”

There is this romantic view of leadership - from books and films and TV - that seems to endow that mantle on a special few.

“I think it's interesting that you bring up this romance of leadership. I think of it as stereotyping. I'm a social psychologist and I think the thing that helps us to understand the sort of failure of this romantic notion of who leaders are is stereotyping. If you think about your charismatic ideal or what does a leader look like? We have notions that they don't look like me - maybe whatever your ideal is of what a leader should be or look like. I think that the problem is that we embody leadership in people instead of in everyday behavior.”

In the book you talk about the need to write it all down. That if you don’t write it down, it doesn’t exist.

“At the University of Chicago, we love data. And I try to convince my students that the data of their own experience is as important as the data that we bring to them from social psychology or economics or sociology or political science. And so what I tell my students is that if you don't write it down, it's a figment of your imagination. Data has to be written down because it has to be observable. It has to be observable to the self and to others. Once you write something down, you can collect it. You can process it. You can save it. You can do all kinds of things.”


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