The Quest for Executive Effectiveness

Turning Vision Inside-Out: Charismatic-Participatory Leadership

Ann M. O'Roark, Ph.D.

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ISBN: 1-57733-058-7, 368 pages, 6x9, paper, $19.95

Part One is about setting priorities. Executive strength lies in personal integrity and attributes. What's the condition within the executive who is responsible for the visioning, the setting in motion and the achieving? The business of turning an individual vision into a collective success takes shape over time and through trust. Due diligence begins with checking first things first. The basic equipment is the self.

Part Two is about what happens along the way toward the vision. It is a close look at the dynamics of curiosity, anxiety, and anger. Trust recurs at the center of the critical path. Demonstrated valor and accurate perception engender trust. Trust is a filter point through which surprise encounters must travel. The executive's application of emotional wisdom and vigor heralds productive change.

Part Three recognizes organizations as fields-of-potentials for leadership impact, positive and negative. Executive power is manifested through expectations, controls, attitudes, and productivity drive. Authoritative power can foster or inhibit individual and collective achievement. We foster productivity as we become quick to realize what's important. With clear and compelling visions, we who chose to be executives are able to seize-the-moment. We can work wholeheartedly, effectively, and successfully at being an executive. Executives who take the long view learn that lasting success is earned through a disciplined process of trust building.


"This volume provides a superb integration of human emotion and motivation with a comprehensive analysis of the structure and functions of complex organizations. By following Dr. O'Roark's unique invitational leadership approach and model for charismatic leadership, the effectiveness of executives and managers in business, industry, and government organizations will be greatly enhanced." Charles D. Spielberger, Ph.D., ABPP; Director, Center for Research in Behavioral Medicine and Health Psychology

"Ann O'Roark has distilled more than 40 years of teaching, counseling, and consulting to executives into an easily read book that aspiring executives - and even those who have made it - will find interesting and helpful. No slogans, no easy answers, but useful wisdom among lively examples from real life." Harry Levinson, Ph.D., Founder: The Levinson Institute & Harvard Professor Emeritus

"How much would you pay for one day of consulting time with a seasoned psychologist-consultant? Here, for less than the cost of a modest lunch, Ann O'Roark's The Quest for Executive Effectiveness summarizes over 30 years of her experience consulting to organizations and managers. Her thoughtful examination of business needs and personal characteristics - including the rarely studied managerial psychology of curiosity, anger and anxiety - provides much food for thought for executives and psychologists alike. Skip lunch; buy the book; then read it and practice its sage advice." Rodney L. Lowman, Ph.D., College of Organizational Studies, Alliant University

"Most comprehensive and scholarly, yet eminently readable. Any student of leadership - from beginner to the seasoned CEO - will find this book to be invaluable. I am impressed with [Dr. O'Roark's] insistence that organizational change starts on a very personal level - with self-motivation. An excellent contribution to the field." Betty L. Siegel, President, Kennesaw State University

"With considerable experience earlier in public service and later in assessment, training, and counseling of business executives, Ann O'Roark provides a model of executive excellence with pithy illustrations and evidence. She lays out the leader's need to be both transformational and transactional in providing vision, direction and organization, to be emulated and trusted, and to use 'invitational power' to bring about honest and realistic participation. It is a fresh and refreshing point of view." Bernard M. Bass, Ph.D., Co-Director of the Center for Leadership Studies

"...a unique way of communicat[ing] sophisticated concepts in an understandable manner for everyone to grasp and apply." Willa Hertwig, Northwest Florida Realtor & Developer

"In The Quest for Executive Effectiveness, Dr. Ann O'Roark offers a comprehensive model of management and delineates a process by which executives can develop and hone their skills so as to become more capable leaders. This text, which provides relevant and useful suggestions for anyone who has to coordinate the efforts of a group, is a valuable resource for enabling one to be a more capable administrator.... Ann M. O'Roark, ... using psychological principles as a guide, composes a mix of theoretical and academic disciplines to produce an outstanding resource for anyone who aspires to positions of command in the workplace. O'Roark's text provides insights into workforce psychology and executive practices in order to aid those who are in and who plan to be in positions of leadership to fine tune their strengths and to become aware of their weaknesses." Florence L. Denmark, Ph.D., Pace University

Table of Contents


Part One. What's Important?: Vision, Motivation, and Action
Introduction. Quest Priorities: Putting Things in Order
1. Every Success Has a Beginning
2. The Truth Begins with Two
3. Enterprise and Collective Investment
4. The Critical Care: Trust and Values

Part Two. Surprise and Change: Emotion and Motivation
Introduction. Zestful Living with Curiosity, Anxiety, and Anger
5. Curiosity and the Executive Edge
6. Anxiety: The Executive Challenger
7. Anger: Heroic Idealism in Action
8. Wholeheartedness and Passion for Life

Part Three. Invitational Power: Organizations with a Future
Introduction. Charismatic-Participatory Leadership
9. Great Expectations and Grand Assumptions
10. Who's the Boss?
11. Pathfinders and Mapmakers
12. Making a Difference



The bright, energetic person who steps onto an executive track soon discovers that there are no time-outs. When competitive hormones surge, there are few safe houses and a scarcity of impartial referees. Anyone, who stops to smell the roses, misses the airplane. If your head is nodding in agreement, this book is for you.

Do not expect to find magical formulas promising abracadabra charisma or ten-steps to sure-fire success; instead be prepared to be introduced to the now-known components of transformational behavior along with essentials involved when setting the stage for realizing success. Most of the following anecdotes and quotes come from the people in executive effectiveness courses I taught and from organization consultation clients. Their heroic tales, wry humors, and career-threatening struggles were invaluable for my on-the-job education and optimism.

No, the quest for executive effectiveness, summed up by a long-time colleague as the execuquest, is not understood in one book. Nor is it comprehended in a short course on all-you-ever-need-to-know-to succeed-in-business. Yes, the challenge of thinking deeper and clearer about what you are doing is worth the effort.

What you will find in this book is an executive "time-out." You are invited to fine-tune your personal impact and to cultivate the strength and power of invitational leadership. Pre-quest equipment-check begins by looking inside, by getting beyond accumulated rust that limits contact with your personal core and vision, in order to understand the value of disciplined application of emotinal resources. The pre-flight check concludes with a review of the complexities of combining multiple talents and knowledges to "drive" a collective venture and to do the work necessary for achieving the mission.

The agenda for this executive-coaching huddle begins with what's important when putting priorities in place - self, others, and task. Part Two reviews recent understanding of the vital-sign emotions that are essential guides for navigating the turbulence of surprise and change. Part Three rehearses alternative scenarios - worst case, nothing-new case, and the benefits of a merger of participatory management practices with an enterprising vision. Inspirational, charismatic executive behavior makes the collective difference.

Part One in The Quest for Executive Effectiveness is about seeing what's important for success in the short run and for the long haul. Scanning an environment and selecting the priority focus is a matter of competent perception. The interpretive drive that co-exists with perception is apperception, a less familiar word, but one that pinpoints the important executive function here. Perception and apperception both come from the word percept, which is defined as an internal image that your sense organs generate. Executive focus is a process which engages our physical equipment, including your eyes, ears, skin, and brain, in determining what to pay attention to first. Assuring top performance from this physical gear requires time and thought.

Perception, the start-up phase of recognizing what's important, requires fusing bits of information gathered by sense organs into a coherent mental alignment. Apperception, which occurs automatically, is the value-added activity. As a prelude to focus it is more than taking an upside-down image on the back of the eye and turning it right-side-up in the brain. Interpreting the meaning of percepts depends on how you integrate sights, sounds, smells, contact sensations and, then, finally, evaluate meaningfulness and goodness in what you are seeing with the help of past experiences. Apperception culminates in a decision about important. And actions reflect that inner judgment.

Champions in business ventures, like their athletic contestant counterparts, can cultivate a time-out habit. They learn to value the lessons learned from post-event replays of perception-apperception processes. They intently review scenarios, calibrating on-the-spot judgment-calls against consequences and alternative actions used by winners. To illustrate the apperception process in an everyday context, imagine a street in front of a downtown office building. A traffic light sets in motion a simple perception-apperception sequence that is critical to survival, executives and others alike.

Step one: The color of the street light is red. This is a visual sensing event, which become information when external data bytes are received and organized by the optical system. Step two: Red means stop the car. This interpretive event depends on selection from past experiences associated with the color red. For U.S. motorists the interpretation and action are instantaneous: Put your foot on the brake and come to a full stop ahead of the white line on the street pavement. Step three: Past history with local traffic rules extends the interpretation and leads to subsequent action. It's OK to turn onto the right-hand lane if no car is moving toward that lane from the left-hand lane. Countless similar, often unconscious, apperceptions get us to work every day. When the inner judgments lead to a collision with another car or predestrian, the driver missed important perceptions or was deliberately defiant. Reviewing the sequences behind decisions that end in accidents may prevent future crashes.

Linking directly to the purpose of Part One, increasing competence in picking-out what's important, is a conscious awareness that our apperceptions are determing the way we problem-solve and behave. What I think, or believe, about the meaning of my percepts, will determine how I go about establishing and influencing relationships and activities. Essentially, apperception serves as an inner-executive, taking care of organizing and planning my behavior.

Apperception, if likened to genetic codes, can be described as the primary determinant of leadership style. In addition, it can be studied as a fossil of personaility. In fact, Rorschach ink blots capitalize on that phenomenon. The images and thoughts that a person reports to the therapist while looking at standardized, ambiguous blots, called Klexa by their originator, Herman Rorschach, are data points. When repreated themes and good-bad evaluations are organized by a trained interpreter they reveal recurring patterns which, in turn, fossilize generic apperceptions that serve to structure and organize personality and behavior.

Symposium (an imprint of Blue Dolphin Publishing), 2000

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