The Cycle of Leadership: How Great Leaders Teach Their Companies to Win by Noel M. Tichy

Tichy described the “interactive teaching/learning process” as a form of “synergy” whereby “1+1=3” (10). Synergy is defined as the “process of mutual exploration and exchange during which both the teacher and the learner become smarter” (10). Though he uses this term to illustrate the teaching and learning process, he esteemed the four “E’s” when choosing potential leaders. The criteria included the following: “Energy” (coping ability for change), “Energize” (ability to excite/inspire), “Edge” (making tough calls), and “Execute” (always delivering, never disappointing) (129). To better support his argument for interactive synergy, Tichy should have included another “E” category– Educate (the ability to teach, mentor, and guide). Tichy, himself, framed teaching as “opening people’s eyes and minds…teaching new ways to see the world and pointing them to new goals…teaching them to teach their own knowledge and teach others” (74). His statement was void of an element in interactive/circulatory teaching.

Tichy referred to Roger Enrico’s process of teaching ten “rising leaders” for a consecutive number of long hour days (11).” After a period of teaching, Enrico would send his students home to “work on projects” and brought them back for “follow-up sessions” (11). This illustration was a poor choice on Tichy’s part because it has nothing to do with “synergy” and does not appear to align with his definition of a “teaching organization.” Not only does Tichy use irrelevant examples and definitions, but he also seemed unclear about the process of the “Virtuous Teaching Cycle.” In his introductory statement, Tichy said, “Virtuous Teaching Cycles are dynamic, interactive processes in which everyone teaches, everyone learns and everyone gets smarter, everyday” (xxiv). Yet his next statement about the leadership process does not incorporate this philosophy: “No institution can be great unless it has a great leader at the top who develops leaders at all levels of the organization” (xxiv).

People who described themselves as “always paranoid” or “never let anyone best him” would seem to be less likely to participate in an interactive process of teaching as depicted by Tichy. The book falls short in conveying a true “interactive teaching process.” Not only were there no tangible examples of companies using this approach, but also the main ideas of “greatness” and “winning” represent selfish gain and have nothing to do with having a “teachable point of view.” The truth is that without Christ as the teacher leading by example, no one can possibly participate in a process that separates one’s pride and power for the humbling experience of learning in an interactive process with a subordinate. Jesus said it clearly: “You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him” (John 13:13-16 NKJV).

Copyright © 2007 M. Teresa Trascritti

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