November, 2003


Issue # 3 

 Alfredo Behrens

This is a space for quick conversations on management and society. Our interests gravitate around issues of leadership, management of workteams, technology, creativity, emotional intelligence and most issues which should be shared to shape a better world.



This issue focuses on the roles of entrepreneurship and leadership in organizations. 


The feature article “Listening skills...” calls your attention to the role of management’s receptiveness to suggestions, particularly in less meritocratic societies.


In “Entrepreneurs by default?” we answer those that mistakenly believe that Brazil’s workforce displays little inclination for entrepreneurship.


The issue is further explored in the interview with Anne Miller, international consultant and earlier designer of the London Business School’s Summer course on entrepreneurship.


What is the importance of values in guiding entrepreneurship? Newsleader is concerned with two possible deviations in our relatively new societies. One that leads educated youngsters into enterprising crime; and another which pushes a wedge between the individual’s own values and those of the corporation which he or she leads.


According to the New York Times Brazil is becoming a Cybercrime lab. This is why Newsleader is sponsoring a First Software Job policy to IT knowledgeable youngsters. See our advertisement below, calling for IT outsourcing opportunities for Brazil.


Newsleader is also supporting creative research on entrepreneurship at the University of Queensland. There, Louise Earnshaw is researching into the personality traits and attitudes that differentiate “youth-at-risk” and entrepreneurs. Please collaborate by answering her survey. Louise’s research may lead to ways in which our societies will be able to generate less delinquents and more entrepreneurs!


There is also the possibility that corporation leaders may fail to be truthful to themselves when leading.  Please fill out Newsleader’s own survey on this matter.


If after working so hard for NewsLeader - and yourself  - you feel the urge to fly-out-of your-box; spend some time with yourself: Google any poet, choose any poem of your liking, print it out and paste it on your PC. It should help you to avoid Auden's unimportant clerk syndrome!




First Soft Job 

It makes business sense 
and it should cost you nothing.

Give us your software headaches and we will supervise the tired, huddled software developers yearning for a First Software Job in Brazil.


NewsLeader is structuring partnerships with Brazilian software factories to offer outsourcing software development for the Americas, Europe and Japan.


The difference?


We will see that a significant share of the new employment goes to young lads at risk of becoming hackers. Brazilian competence in software development, coupled with unemployment, is turning the country into the World champion of World-class hackers, posing a worldwide security threat (NYT, Oct 27-2003).


Shed even a small outsourcing project to us and we will offer you some of the World’s most competent software developers in your own time zone, in a peaceful region of the World, for less than you pay developers elsewhere. Besides, you will be contributing to social development in Brazil, and helping to strengthen your own security at home.



NewsLeader recommends a new book, in Portuguese:


"Emprendedorismo Corporativo" de Eduardo Bom Angelo et alli. Editora Negócio, 2003, São Paulo, 205 páginas. Esperamos poder oferecer uma resenha no próximo número.



Listening skills 
and the survival of the fittest

Alfredo Behrens

Specialization breeds isolation. It can be deadly, both to the specialists as well as to the organizations that employ them. Jack Welch’s GE almost bit the dust to dotcom newcomers such as Ariba and Commerce One.


How could have the legendary Jack Welch woken-up to the Internet potential only after he saw his family purchasing online for Christmas, as late as in 1999?


GE’s Information Services (GEIS) did lead in pre-Internet EDI transactions; catering to about 100,000 companies. But the specialist GEIS had a skewed view of the Internet potential. Locked into prevailing (EDI) technology, GEIS - still mainframe bound - saw the Internet as a cheap alternative for those who were not large enough to operate in the EDI system. GEIS at first even offered Internet solutions to hook the minnows on to the EDI fading World. By 1997 it was clear even to GEIS that EDI was doomed, but GEIS failed to communicate it effectively to the conglomerate’s leaders; missing the “first movers’ advantage”.


Jack got it late. How could this have happened? The organization’s culture can take the brunt of the blame. But is it enough an explanation?


GEIS was number one in its field and, by GE rules of engagement, it was safe; GEIS thought it could afford to fuss about with the Y2K bug. To GEIS’ former “crew-cut” Marine commander, offering to engage a credible bug must have seemed more appropriate than pointing to a threat by tie-less Californian flamboyant young executives. Besides, developing new technology meant dumping the old one, at a high cost - for uncertain revenues. GE’s conglomerate structure would not have favoured spending the millions that were necessary. Not unless the specialists had developed the communication skills they lacked, or the conglomerate leaders had the listening skills they failed to show. After all, Mr. Welch saw the light while listening to his family. He may have been hard of hearing, but he was not deaf.


Can we see similar communication failures nearer to home? Perhaps we can. Brazil’s leading private bank innovated in Internet banking to the point of leading in number of online customers, loosing only to BofA and Wells Fargo. But the bank’s specialists’ divisions never managed to persuade their bosses that they could export that technology while it was internationally competitive. Something similar happened to Brazil’s second largest private bank.


The specialist divisions of both Brazilian banks were led by technically proficient staff, successful at what they had been asked to do, but unable to overcome the credibility gap when proposing ventures out of their realm of competence. Very much like GE; only that it should have been easier for GE to listen, for the USA is a meritocratic society while Brazil is less so.


In many Latin American countries, speaking up to bosses, particularly to owners, requires the specialist staff to overcome higher psychological hurdles than in more meritocratic societies; and therefore requires from company leaders a greater willingness to listen to the specialists.


Entrepreneurs by Default?


Entrepreneurship is among the most sought for talents in business. Countries that figure well in entrepreneurial rankings usually portray more vigorous adoption of new technologies and management techniques, all contributing to enhanced productivity and steadier growth patterns.


Brazil stands prominent in entrepreneurship according to Global Entrepreneurship Monitor. Yet, a recent soundbyte published in Forbes Brasil suggests that Brazil’s performance in entrepreneurship may not be as glamourous.


Indeed, a human resource consulting company serving some of Brazil’s most prominent companies –named in the article above - reports that entrepreneurial vocation may be lacking: less than 2% may have it.


Is this situation widespread? When GEM’s country entrepreneurial ranking is adjusted to reflect needs-based entrepreneurial activity; Brazil ranks highest in the World; suggesting that Brazilians are entrepreneurial by necessity rather than by disposition. A similar conclusion can be drawn from the data on Argentina, and Chile, while Mexican entrepreneurs would appear to be less driven by necessity than the other three. Yet all four countries appear amongst the above average entrepreneurial countries, even above countries like Israel, Hong Kong, Singapore and China.

Hot Tip


Innovation requires a rewarding organization. A punishing one is unlikely to be a creative one. Where does yours stand? Think carefully before putting the brunt of the blame on your workforce’s lack of entrepreneurship.

Therefore, the GEM data does not support the view that Latin Americans are less entrepreneurial, though necessity may make Brazilians unduly entrepreneurial.


This could be mischievously construed to mean that Brazilians prefer a wage to launch a business and when they do find a job they show it!


Yet, if the Brazilian workforce at large were not entrepreneurial, could Brazilian business or government have developed and adopted such successful banking automation practices, or such effective e-commerce solutions? Probably not, because being a first mover requires a considerable amount of entrepreneurship.


So, if Brazil is a highly entrepreneurial society - as suggested by GEM and shown by Brazil’s inventiveness - and there are companies in Brazil with less entrepreneurial disposition that would be desirable; the solution to the problem lies squarely with those companies' management.


If you sense your company’s entrepreneurship disposition is somewhat stolid; it would pay to be attentive to the appropriateness of your hiring procedures as well as to the ways your business is rewarding innovation and punishing mistakes. For it is the latter three, rather than the nature of the Brazilian workforce, which accounts for more of the revealed entrepreneurship talents in your company, however low they may be.



W. H. Auden

Excerpt from “The fall of Rome”

Cesar’s double-bed is warm
As an unimportant clerk
On a pink official form

Does your work occasionally feel like that of Auden’s unimportant clerk?

How long has it been since you last read some poetry? Since you wrote poetry?


Google Auden, Seamus Heaney, Akhmatova, Neruda, Fernando Pessoa;almost any other; and fly out-of-your-box.

SPOTLIGHT: Does "Being True" enhance leadership effectiveness?

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" Feeling authentic, living a life that is strongly connected to one’s belief system, is energizing and promotes growth, learning and psychological well-being."


Does the above sound to you like a gender-laden statement?  Can personal and business values fall out of line more readily in men than in women?  Is there a gender issue in leadership? Are there women and men styles of leadership? 



Please take a minute to reply to a very short survey that will help us determine whether this would be a promissing area of managerial research. Only the first 100 answers can be handled, until  November 20th. Click on Being true, Newsleader survey  or copy the link below and copy it into your browser:


You should then be lead to the survey which only has five questions. Many thanks, and remember, the survey is anonymous.

From our Readers: Louise Earnshaw, University of Queensland

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What makes or breaks an entrepreneur?

Besides income, what is the difference between a young entrepreneur and the young-at-risk of falling into crime? 



Louise Earnshaw, both with the University of Queensland’s School of Psychology and the School of Business, is working to tell us the difference. Her preliminary findings indicate that the two groups (entrepreneurs and kids at risk) share a number of unique similarities but that the young-at-risk show personality differences to successful non-entrepreneurial professionals. Her work may turn out to be most important in shaping social policy and in helping us understand how to promote entrepreneurship.

To further her research work Louise needs your help in the way of filling out a questionnaire. This is your chance to reveal the traits of your personality which have turned you into a successful entrepreneur or professional. Help Louise and help us all by filling her questionnaire. She has promised to share her findings with NewsLeader.


NewsLeader interviews Anne Miller on entrepreneurship at large organizations.


Anne is a partner with Mercer Delta Organizational Consulting firm, based in the London office, from where she works around the world.  She is an entrepreneur and an innovator who believes that that entrepreneurship is a way of being at the workplace. Her approach is action-oriented and led to the development of the Action Lab™ - a rapid cycle time approach for innovation. In 2001, Anne created and served as initial Director of the Entrepreneurship Summer School at London Business School with the purpose of transforming concepts into fundable business plans.

NewsLeader: Why are entrepreneurship issues relevant to large companies?

Anne Miller: Large companies inevitably deal with an overload of initiatives, with individuals who do not bring their full potential to work and with an overemphasis on tasks rather than results. Entrepreneurs are focused, must continually stretch their potential to deliver and produce the ‘goods’. Entrepreneurship is more than just starting new businesses. It is a way of being in the workplace and large companies can surely learn from the strengths of entrepreneurship.

NewsLeader: What are the key issues that promote and hinder entrepreneurship in large companies?

Anne Miller: Very succinctly, there are four key levers that promote whether a company has a culture that fosters courage, experimentation, speed and accountability or hinders it:

1. Behaviour of the CEO and his/her leadership team
2. Reward and recognition structures
3. Planning and measurement
4. Decision criteria and governance structures that either do or do not distinguish the difference between experimental / new ventures and mainstream, business as usual activities

NewsLeader: How can entrepreneurship be developed in large companies?

Anne Miller:
As Dr Jeffery Pfeffer from Stanford says “Everyone wants to build a learning organisation but no one really wants anyone to learn”…because that means tolerating mistakes.

Companies that want to foster entrepreneurship must create a cultural context that allows responsible mistakes that accompany learning. Rather than putting all the energy into being 100% ‘right’, companies need to build skills for rapid cycle time recovery, resiliency and creating a bigger opportunity out of a mistake. The first condition to develop entrepreneurship in large companies is for the leadership to want it and to have the courage to practice its behaviour among. If this condition cannot be met, then the effort will be severely compromised.  


Provocative insights under 400 words long will receive our attention more apidly. Larger pieces may be abridged without consultation with the author. Guest authors may wish to submit contributions in English, Spanish, Portuguese, French or Italian. With each submission please include a statement indicating the work submited is your own. Please also submit your affiliations, email address and CV or Oxford Muse like portrait.  Authors will only be notified when their contributions are selected for publication.

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Alfredo Behrens
[email protected]
Phone +55 11 38713363
São Paulo, SP

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