Christian Monjou

This morning I am so full of blogging items.

I wanted to blog on the Eiffel tower which celebrated its 120th anniversary and the Xth adieu concert of Johnny Halladay in Paris whilst the remnant of my last night reading of Kishore Mahbubani of the unconscious pressure that the Americans have placed on the Islamic world prior to 9/11, still occupied my mind and I am having all my wits in the preparation of Christian Monjou’s arrival for his seminar.

Who is Christian Monjou?

Professor of ‘Ecole Normale Superieure’, he will be discussing Power, Legitimacy and Authority in organisation with a group of CEO’s.

As defined by William Oncken

What is Authority?

I define authority as follows: “Authority is whatever you possess at the moment that causes someone else to do what you want him to do at the moment.”

If you as a supervisor, manager, or executive have enough authority, as defined above, to get done what you want done, you have all the authority you need at the moment.

The authority you need is made up of four components:

First, Competence. Authority of competence has to be acquired. It evokes confidence. The more competent the other person knows you are, the more confident he will be that you know what you are talking about and the more likely he will be to follow your orders, requests, or suggestions. He will think of you as an authority in the matter under consideration and will feel it risky to ignore your wishes. If he does not have this confidence, he will, at best, give you lip service or, at worst, ignore you or sabotage you.

Second, Position. Authority of position has to be delegated. It evokes deference. This component gives you the right to tell someone, “Do it or else.” It has teeth. “The boss wants it” is a bugle call that can snap many an office or shop into action. His position carries authority that demands deference. Only the “gambler” will capriciously ignore it.

Third, Personality. Authority of personality has to be developed. It evokes rapport. The easier it is for the other fellow to talk to you, to listen to you, or to work with you, the easier he will find it to respond to your wishes. The harder you are to do business with, the harder it will be for him to find satisfaction in doing what you want him to do.

He already has one full-time problem—to succeed in his own job. If, in addition, he finds you difficult to talk to, listen to, or work with, he has two full-time problems. If both combined are too much for him, he will not solve either problem well. At worst, he may fail at solving the first problem because he is too preoccupied with the second. In that event he certainly will not be doing what you want him to do. If, on the other hand, he has no “second problem,” he may do more than you expected. It takes a lot of effort to say “no” to someone with whom it is easy to do business.

Fourth, Character. Authority of character has to be cultivated. It evokes respect. This component is your “credit rating” with other people as to your integrity, reliability, honesty, loyalty, sincerity, personal morals, and ethics. Obviously you will get more and better action from a man who has respect for you character than from one who hasn’t. He acquires this respect (or lack of it) from the trail you leave behind you of promises kept or broken, expectations fulfilled or forgotten, statements corroborated or shown to be false.

You get no credit for being honest when it costs you nothing to be honest, for being dependable when it costs you nothing to be dependable. The measure other people place upon your character is how far you have been willing to put yourself out to maintain your record of honesty and dependability. This tells them at once how far they will want to put themselves out for you when the chips are down. The greater their respect, the farther they’ll go, and the greater is the component of character in your overall authority.

Why doesn’t higher management usually delegate complete authority of position to do the job? It’s simply a matter of risk.

How much authority will you, yourself, delegate to a man for whose character you do not have complete respect, or with whose personality you do not have complete rapport, or in whose competence you do not have complete confidence? Less than complete authority. And this will be less than he needs to do the job for which he is responsible!

However, as he earns more respect, rapport, and confidence from others, you will delegate to him correspondingly more authority. Eventually he may acquire from you all the authority of position he needs. I say “may” because he will, no doubt, be promoted before that happens and will have to start all over again with his new boss. This is one of the frustrations of success!

Three Immutable Laws

In getting others to do what you what them to do when you want them to do it, follow three immutable laws. First, lead from that component of your authority appropriate to what you want done, whom you want to do it, and the situation within which it must be done.

For example, let us say that you are drawing up your budget requirements for the upcoming fiscal year. Your aim is to get your boss to approve your budget estimate and make it stick when the budget committee finally meets to put the overall company budget together.

From which of the four components of your authority will you lead? Obviously not from position, as this is effective only on the men under you. So you decide for the moment you’d better lead from competence. You begin your presentation at “A” with every sign of not stopping until you get to “Z,” which appears to be an hour away at least. Realizing that he won’t be able to take it much longer, he interrupts you:

“This looks fine, Joe. A lot of work behind it. Characteristic of your approach to everything you do. Give me the ‘approval form.’ After all, you’ve never let me down in the past on these matters so I’ll be happy to sign it now.”

Caught unprepared for this immediate approval, you insist that he hear your argument to the bitter end. As you plod your pedantic way through your charts and tables, he becomes inwardly more and more annoyed. Finally he decides to beat you at your own game. Rising from his chair he purposely mistakes a flyspeck for a decimal point and asks why you take up his time with material that hasn’t even been proofread. With that he unceremoniously leaves for the club and a long weekend.

You had all the authority you needed to get his approval the moment after you entered the office. You won it on character but then lost it because you insisted on winning it on competence.

You did the right thing in coming fully armed with facts and figures. You did the wrong thing in not being willing to sense the man’s mood, the timing, and the situation—and in not switching immediately from one component of your authority to another.

The professional manager is both willing and able to make the required shift on the spot and takes pride and satisfaction in being able to do so. This way he usually has enough of the right kind of authority on tap to get his boss to do what he wants him to do when he wants him to do it. Second, be careful not to lead from one component to camouflage a weakness in another.

Suppose, for example, you are in a conference where a matter of policy is being debated. Before long you find yourself a one-man minority fighting with your back to the wall. Your one reply to the pleadings and the arguments of the others is that you are against the proposition “as a matter of principle.” This only aggravates them more, but you remain adamant. Eventually communication between you and them breaks down completely and the meeting is recessed. You console yourself by laying the entire impasse to your own strength of character, identifying yourself with the early Christian martyrs.

Without realizing it, you may have feigned strength of character to cover up a deficiency in personality. There need be no conflict between gaining the other man’s respect and, at the same time, maintaining rapport with him. The man who cannot conquer this conflict within himself, loses much of the authority his character may already have provided him. Moral: “Learn to disagree agreeably.” Third, do not lead from one component of your authority in such a way as to create a false impression about another component.

A person who is easy to listen to, easy to talk with, and easy to do business with (strong on personality) may be creating the impression that he is strong in competence. By picking up a few technical terms and borrowing a few statistics, he can double as a Ph.D. in economics to the point of fooling even the pros—for a while—but he loses his authority over the long run.

The most valuable component of your authority is documented in the trail you leave behind you: your character.

From time to time every supervisor, manager, and executive has to choose between being liked and being respected. The choice, then, is between leading from personality or from character. Lose a man’s respect, and it’s a long uphill pull to regain it if it can be regained at all. Lose a man’s liking for you, and it is a relatively easy matter to win him back. This is particularly important in management. The manager who is out to win a popularity contest will lose his authority in the quicksand of the compromise. If he is out primarily to win their respect, he can then go as far as he wishes in winning their friendship through effective human relations.

While you have not knowingly committed these errors, you may have been erroneously perceived by others as having committed them. This is just as damaging to your career as having intended to commit them. This is why it is so necessary to develop a sensitivity to choose the right component of your authority to use on the right person at the right time. It pays off in your ability to get the person to do what you want him to do when you want him to do it. It is this ability that constitutes your authority to manage.

Character Never Faileth

I have listed these four components of authority—competence, position, personality, and character—intentionally in a particular order. From the top down they follow the order in which they are critical to success in our careers.

When we apply for our first job we are asked, “What can you do?” Thus competence is the earliest component of success. We also get our first raise on this basis, if not our first promotion. Having demonstrated our competence, we are eventually selected for promotion to a supervisory position. Having demonstrated success as a supervisor, we are selected for promotion to middle management in the hope that we can succeed in a situation where personality carries more authority than position. Having achieved success as a middle manager, we are now considered for an executive position. At this level, the trail we have left behind us both inside and outside the company is the critical factor. In short, what is being looked for is a person of integrity who has the authority of character—in the eyes of scores, if not hundreds, of people.

At this point, it is of little importance how honest and full of integrity we and our colleagues think we are. Many an honest man has seemed to be dishonest merely because of a careless, though possibly well-intentioned, act. He suffers just as much as if he had been dishonest. The trail he has left behind him has already been interpreted by others as they have seen fit.

The most valuable component of your authority is documented in the trail you leave behind you—your character. Happy is the person who makes certain that his trail does not have confusing or misleading patterns which may look crooked to others, regardless of how they may appear to him. His own opinion about this doesn’t count at this crucial juncture. The Board wants a person in whom others respect the authority of character. His or her trail must already have spoken “loud and clear” to all whom he or she will be expected to lead and influence.

Hence, if we are selected for an executive post, we will want to continue to cultivate breadth and depth of character while being careful also to continue striving for excellence in competence and personality in the position.

The latest I found interesting on the web on Christian Monjou

Christian Monjou : « Barack Obama a mis l’accent sur le renouveau du pacte démocratique »

Propos recueillis par Marie-Amélie Fauchier-Magnan

21 janvier 2009

Christian Monjou, agrégé d’anglais et professeur à l’École normale supérieure a accompagné l’équipe de Ségolène Royal, présente hier à Washington lors de l’investiture du 44ème président des États-Unis. Il revient pour France- Amérique sur les moments forts du discours.

Certains présidents sont passés à la postérité, notamment grâce à leur discours d’investiture. Qu’avez-vous particulièrement retenu de celui de Barack Obama ?

Ce que j’ai trouvé remarquable dans le discours d’Obama, c’est la précision clinique du diagnostique qu’il a établi sur la situation des États-Unis, à la fois à l’intérieur et à l’extérieur de leurs frontières.

À Berkeley, les étudiants qui assistaient à la retransmission de la cérémonie, ont sifflé le nom de l’ancien président, George W. Bush, que Barack Obama a remercié au début de son discours. Qu’en pensez-vous ?

Barack Obama a bien fait de rendre hommage à George W.Bush. Il a reconnu que ce dernier avait au moins créé des conditions favorables à la transition présidentielle. (…) Mais il a également critiqué certains échecs de l’administration Bush : par exemple lorsqu’il a parlé des habitants de la Nouvelle-Orléans qui avaient recueilli ceux dont les maisons avaient été inondées au moment de l’ouragan Katrina (« La gentillesse d’accueillir un étranger quand les digues s’effondrent »). C’était une manière subtile de rappeler la très mauvaise gestion de la crise par le gouvernement précédent. Obama a voulu montrer que les 8 ans de républicanisme conservateur de l’administration Bush n’étaient qu’une parenthèse dans l’Histoire des États-Unis.

Barack Obama a beaucoup insisté sur les notions de responsabilité et de sacrifice.

Oui, selon lui, face aux défis qui attendent l’Amérique, les citoyens vont devoir retrousser leurs manches. Il a donc fait appel au retour de la démocratie traditionnelle faite d’individualités fortes. Obama a mis l’accent sur le renouveau du pacte démocratique, à savoir que l’État soutiendrait ces responsabilités individuelles mais ne pourrait jamais agir à la place des individus. Obama est remonté aux origines de la démocratie américaine telle qu’Abraham Lincoln l’avait définie dans son discours de Gettysburg, le gouvernement « du peuple, par le peuple et pour le peuple. »

Sur le plan de la politique extérieure, Barack Obama semble s’être très clairement démarqué de son prédécesseur.

Obama a en effet totalement redéfini la politique étrangère des États-Unis. À plusieurs reprises, il a employé le mot « humble ». Il a appelé au retour du dialogue avec les amis traditionnels des États-Unis mais il a également parlé de renouer des liens avec le monde musulman.

Ce discours d’investiture a été moins lyrique que celui qu’Obama avait prononcé le soir des élections, pourquoi ?

Obama a tout de même fait allusion à son histoire personnelle à plusieurs reprises. Il a cité son père de façon très émouvante à la fin du discours (« C’est le sens de notre liberté et notre credo (…) la raison pour laquelle un homme dont le père, il y a moins de 60 ans, n’aurait peut-être pas été servi dans un restaurant local, se tient devant vous, pour prêter le serment le plus sacré. ») Il a ainsi voulu rappeler qu’il était l’incarnation du rêve américain.