The Star Factor

Discover What Your Top Performers Do Differently--and Inspire a New Level of Greatness in All

The Star Factor

Authors: William Seidman, Richard Grbavac
Pub Date: December 2013
Print Edition: $25.00
Print ISBN: 9780814433201
Page Count: 240
Format: Hardback
e-Book ISBN: 9780814433218

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"We have a big problem." As consultants, we heard that phrase

from clients all the time, but in this particular instance it

got us started on the research that led us to the methodology

at the heart of this book.

We were sitting across the table from the vice president of

engineering for a large semi-conductor manufacturing company.

We had been brought in to examine the project management

practices being used to develop a critical new product.

The project was substantially behind schedule, over budget,

and torn apart by conflicts.

The troubles were due to dysfunction in the actual leadership

structure. The real leaders of the project, six star

performers, were completely overloaded. The other 650

people working on it were waiting for them to make decisions.

The company asked us to discover what made these

six stars so effective and then transfer that knowledge to others

so overall productivity could increase. Top management

knew that raising everyone to the level of their star performers

would have huge financial benefits.

They also said they really disliked consultants and loved

systems and tools. They asked us to create a system that could

gather the motivating factors and operational efficiencies of

their star performers' expertise and supplement it with soft-

ware tools that could efficiently transfer the stars' qualities to


It took us more than two years to do it, but eventually we

developed a system that specified what made these stars so

good at what they did. After another five years, we had developed

a repeatable, cost-effective system for raising others to

their level. This project was the genesis of the development

process in this book.

We worked for years with organizations in industries as

diverse as fast-food companies, government agencies, insurance

companies, and high-technology manufacturers. We

studied emerging neuroscience research on learning. We

came up with our methodology, which we call Affirmative

Leadership, to develop more and better leaders in all parts of

an organization and in any country or culture faster than people

thought possible. These leaders transform their organizations

into high-performing machines and their organizational

cultures into astoundingly great places to work.


We were willing and able to take on this work, because we

had been students of leadership. As employees of organizations,

then as consultants, we have seen a few great leaders

and well-run organizations but far more instances of inadequate

leadership and poor management. We have experienced

what made some leaders great and others not so great

and why some people developed into great leaders while others


For Bill, the serious quest to understand leadership began

with his doctoral work at Stanford where he studied the

effects of management training on group decision making. As

part of his dissertation, he developed a measurement tool that

could analyze and categorize a star's attitudes and behaviors

down to the single word or action.

Rick began thinking about and studying leadership in order

to make sense of how Jantzen, a once great company he loved,

declined. He found the dismaying results of weak leadership

that consistently missed changes to market conditions and

made poor decisions about how to respond to them.

In this book you will learn how to develop a comprehensive

Affirmative Leadership program. You will learn how to

use the science of "positive deviance" to identify and discover

your stars' wisdom. You will see how the neuroscience

of motivation creates intense motivation in others to learn

that wisdom. You will understand how the neuroscience of

learning guides learners into developing sustained leadership

skills that make a huge contribution to your organization.

Anyone and everyone can and should be an Affirmative

Leader regardless of their place on an organizational chart,

or in their country or culture. Finally, you will learn how creating

an organization rich in Affirmative Leaders changes

the organization's culture in ways that produce substantial

improvements in morale and financial performance.

The book is structured into two main sections. After a brief

overview of the science of Affirmative Leadership methodology

in Chapter 1, Chapters 2 to 8 show how to develop an

Affirmative Leadership program in any organization. They

describe the underlying science and actual techniques used

with hundreds of organizations to create Affirmative Leaders.

We use many examples from real companies, though we use

fictitious names and sometimes even change their industries

to preserve confidentiality.

Chapters 9 to 11 provide case studies of programs for executives,

first-line managers, and individual contributors. They

show the possibilities that developing Affirmative Leadership

in many roles in an organization can create and the problems

it can solve, such as driving a disruptive cultural change or

surviving a bankruptcy.

Chapter 12 is about the bottom line in two senses: the

impact of Affirmative Leadership programs on attitudes and

behaviors and the fi nancial results it produces. It shows that

nine out of ten people in an Affi rmative Leadership program

demonstrate the attitudes and behaviors of the stars. It also

shows how Affi rmative Leadership consistently achieves an

average return of twenty times the investment. These are

results any organization would value.

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