On Jan. 31, LRN was pleased to host Professor Morten T. Hansen, a management professor at University of California, Berkeley, in a conversation with our CEO Dov Seidman around the role of passion and purpose in organizations and our jobs. Prof. Morten Hansen is the coauthor (with Jim Collins) of the New York Times bestseller Great by Choice and the author of the highly acclaimed Collaboration and most recently Great at Work, which answers the question: Why do some people perform better at work than others? This unscripted and informal discussion was an opportunity for LRN colleagues to participate in the conversation and Q&A.
Professor Hansen holds a PhD from Stanford Business School, where he was a Fulbright scholar. His academic research has won several prestigious awards, and he is ranked one of the world’s most influential management thinkers by Thinkers50. Previously a manager at the Boston Consulting Group, where he advised corporate clients worldwide, Professor Hansen now travels the world to give keynotes and help companies and people become great at work.
With a similar mission to LRN’s, Hansen and Seidman related well to each other when it comes to trust, collaboration and leadership in the workplace and what it takes to inspire principled performance. “There will always be a need for positions of formal authority,” said Seidman. “What we need are more moral authority leaders to occupy those roles – those who inspire others to action because it is about the purpose they share.”
Prof. Hansen agreed. “The right kind of people need to be promoted into these positions [of formal authority].”
They talked about how in today’s workplaces, skills are important but even more so “deep qualities of character – the ability to compromise, communicate, and collaborate,” said Seidman. Prof. Hansen added that “with the absence of trust in a collaboration project, it often falls apart.”
So how do you get great at work and beyond? How do you get to great performance? “One of the top three things organizations do to bring out the very best in people is to tear down the things that prevent collaboration,” said Prof. Hansen, adding how that sometimes involves modifying incentives that encourage the opposite. “Leaders must create the right environment for others to collaborate. We are often rewarding for individual work while hoping for collaboration and teamwork.”
At the end of the discussion, the leaders thanked each other for their admirable work. “Greatness is up for grabs right now,” Seidman told Prof. Hansen. “You are a leader because you are choosing to inspire the right kind of conversations.”
Prof. Hansen thanked Seidman and everyone at LRN for “the great work that you do as an organization. What you do really matters in the world.”