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December, 2001, Volume 6, Number 3


Leading Every Way:  Wharton Leadership Conference on June 5, 2002
Leadership Quote:  Ford Motor Co.’s Kathleen Ligocki 

Lessons in Leadership:  From a Janitor

Mentoring Programs:  Informal Commitment is Critical

A Capacity that Matters:  Management Improvisation 
Leading Groups:  Put Your Heart into It

Leading every way:
  Wharton Leadership Conference on June 5, 2002

The Sixth Annual Wharton Leadership Conference, focusing this year on “Leading in All Directions,” will be held on June 5, 2002 at the Inn at Penn, Philadelphia.

Leadership can be viewed as a four-pronged capacity – downward, outward, upward, and inward, and building that capacity is a challenge.  The sixth annual Wharton Leadership Conference is devoted to exchanging ideas on how leadership for all directions and a supporting culture can best be developed.  

Presenters include:

Warren Bennis, author of numerous books on leadership including Leaders, On Becoming a Leader, and Organizing Genius: The Secrets of Creative Collaboration.

Marcus Buckingham, senior VP at the Gallup Organization and co-author of First, Break All the Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently and Now, Discover Your Strengths.

Rodrigo Jordan, founding director of Vertical S.A., a Chilean organization devoted to using mountains as a classroom for groups ranging from company mangers to school children; summited Mt. Everest by the difficult east face in 1992, and led a Chilean team in 1996 in a successful ascent of K2; author of Everest: The Challenge of a Dream, K2: The Ultimate Challenge, and articles in the Wall Street Journal and elsewhere; his ascent of K2 was featured in 2001 in the National Geographic Television series on the Quest for K2.

Douglas K. Smith, management consultant and author or co-author of The Wisdom of Teams: Creating the High-Performance Organization; Make Success Measurable!  A Mindbook-Workbook for Setting Goals and Taking Action; Fumbling the Future: How Xerox Invented, Then Ignored, the First Personal Computer; and Taking Charge of Change: 10 Principles for Managing People and Performance.   

For information on conference speakers and the conference agenda, see

To register online for the conference, go to

Leadership Quote:  Ford Motor Co.’s Kathleen Ligocki 

Vice president for Ford’s Canada, Mexico, and North America Strategy, Kathleen Ligocki alludes to the Wizard of Oz: 

“I like the fact that Dorothy started out with a problem, picked herself up, got herself moving down that yellow brick road and ended up with a fabulous adventure…. 

“She had a vision – to go to Oz to find a way home to Kansas.  She wasn’t deterred by people telling her that she couldn’t achieve her goals and wasn’t afraid to take risks to get there.” 

Source:  Al Beeber, “Executive Writes Own Rules for Ford Turnaround,” Lethbridge Herald, November 8, 2001.


Colonel James E. Moschgat, Commander of the 12th Operations Group, 12th Flying Training Wing, Randolph Air Force Base, Texas

William “Bill” Crawford certainly was an unimpressive figure, one you could easily overlook  during a hectic day at the U.S. Air Force Academy.  Mr. Crawford, as most of us referred to him back in the late 1970s, was our squadron janitor. 

While we cadets busied ourselves preparing for academic exams, athletic events, Saturday morning parades and room inspections, or never-ending leadership classes, Bill quietly moved about the squadron mopping and buffing floors, emptying trash cans, cleaning toilets, or just tidying up the mess 100 college-age kids can leave in a dormitory.  Sadly, and for many years, few of us gave him much notice, rendering little more than a passing nod or throwing a curt, “G’morning!” in his direction as we hurried off to our daily duties. 

Why?  Perhaps it was because of the way he did his job-he always kept the squadron area spotlessly clean, even the toilets and showers gleamed.  Frankly, he did his job so well, none of us had to notice or get involved.  After all, cleaning toilets was his job, not ours.  Maybe it was is physical appearance that made him disappear into the background.  Bill didn’t move very quickly and, in fact, you could say he even shuffled a bit, as if he suffered from some sort of injury.  His gray hair and wrinkled face made him appear ancient to a group of young cadets.  And his crooked smile, well, it looked a little funny.  Face it, Bill was an old man working in a young person’s world.  What did he have to offer us on a personal level? 

Finally, maybe it was Mr. Crawford’s personality that rendered him almost invisible to the young people around him.  Bill was shy, almost painfully so.  He seldom spoke to a cadet unless they addressed him first, and that didn’t happen very often.  Our janitor always buried himself in his work, moving about with stooped shoulders, a quiet gait, and an averted gaze.  If he noticed the hustle and bustle of cadet life around him, it was hard to tell.  So, for whatever reason, Bill blended into the woodwork and became just another fixture around the squadron.  The Academy, one of our nation’s premier leadership laboratories, kept us busy from dawn till dusk.  And Mr. Crawford...well, he was just a janitor. 

That changed one fall Saturday afternoon in 1976.  I was reading a book about World War II and the tough Allied ground campaign in Italy, when I stumbled across an incredible story.  On September 13, 1943, a Private William Crawford from Colorado, assigned to the 36th Infantry Division, had been involved in some bloody fighting on Hill 424 near Altavilla, Italy. The words on the page leapt out at me: “in the face of intense and overwhelming hostile fire ... with no regard for personal safety ...  on his own initiative, Private Crawford single-handedly attacked fortified enemy positions.” It continued, “for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of life above and beyond the call of duty, the President of the United States ...”   

“Holy cow,” I said to my roommate, “you’re not going to believe this, but I think our janitor is a Medal of Honor winner.” We all knew Mr. Crawford was a WWII Army vet, but that didn’t keep my friend from looking at me as if I was some sort of alien being.  Nonetheless, we couldn’t wait to ask Bill about the story on Monday.  We met Mr. Crawford bright and early Monday and showed him the page in question from the book, anticipation and doubt in our faces.  He starred at it for a few silent moments and then quietly uttered something like, “Yep, that’s me.” 

Mouths agape, my roommate and I looked at one another, then at the book, and quickly back at our janitor.  Almost at once we both stuttered, “Why didn’t you ever tell us about it?”  He slowly replied after some thought,   “That was one day in my life and it happened a long time ago.” 

I guess we were all at a loss for words after that.  We had to hurry off to class and Bill, well, he had chores to attend to.  However, after that brief exchange, things were never again the same around our squadron.  Word spread like wildfire among the cadets that we had a hero in our midst-Mr. Crawford, our janitor, had won the Medal!  Cadets who had once passed by Bill with hardly a glance, now greeted him with a smile and a respectful, “Good morning, Mr. Crawford.” 

Those who had before left a mess for the “janitor” to clean up started taking it upon themselves to put things in order.  Most cadets routinely stopped to talk to Bill throughout the day and we even began inviting him to our formal squadron functions.  He’d show up dressed in a conservative dark suit and quietly talk to those who approached him, the only sign of his heroics being a simple blue, star-spangled lapel pin. 

Almost overnight, Bill went from being a simple fixture in our squadron to one of our teammates.  Mr. Crawford changed too, but you had to look closely to notice the difference.  After that fall day in 1976, he seemed to move with more purpose, his shoulders didn’t seem to be as stooped, he met our greetings with a direct gaze and a stronger “good morning” in return, and he flashed his crooked smile more often.  The squadron gleamed as always, but everyone now seemed to notice it more.  Bill even got to know most of us by our first names, something that didn’t happen often at the Academy.  While no one ever formally acknowledged the change, I think we became Bill’s cadets and his squadron. 

As often happens in life, events sweep us away from those in our past. The last time I saw Bill was on graduation day in June 1977.  As I walked out of the squadron for the last time, he shook my hand and simply said, “Good luck, young man.”  With that, I embarked on a career that has been truly lucky and blessed.  Mr. Crawford continued to work at the Academy and eventually retired in his native Colorado where he resides today, one of four Medal of Honor winners living in a small town. 

A wise person once said, “It’s not life that’s important, but those you meet along the way that make the difference.” Bill was one who made a difference for me.  While I haven’t seen Mr.  Crawford in over twenty years, he’d probably be surprised to know I think of him often.  Bill Crawford, our janitor, taught me many valuable, unforgettable leadership lessons.  Here are ten I’d like to share with you. 

1.  Be Cautious of Labels.  Labels you place on people may define your relationship to them and bound their potential.  Sadly, and for a long time, we labeled Bill as just a janitor, but he was so much more.  Therefore, be cautious of a leader who callously says, “Hey, he’s just an Airman.”  Likewise, don’t tolerate the O-1, who says, “I can’t do that, I’m just a lieutenant.” 

2.  Everyone Deserves Respect.  Because we hung the “janitor” label on Mr. Crawford, we often wrongly treated him with less respect than others around us. He deserved much more, and not just because he was a Medal of Honor winner. Bill deserved respect because he was a janitor, walked among us, and was a part of our team. 

3.  Courtesy Makes a Difference.  Be courteous to all around you, regardless of rank or  position.  Military customs, as well as common courtesies, help bond a team.  When our daily words to Mr. Crawford turned from perfunctory “hellos” to heartfelt greetings, his demeanor and personality outwardly changed.  It made a difference for all of us. 

4.  Take Time to Know Your People.  Life in the military is hectic, but that’s no excuse for not knowing the people you work for and with.  For years a hero walked among us at the Academy and we never knew it.  Who are the heroes that walk in your midst? 

5.  Anyone Can Be a Hero.  Mr. Crawford certainly didn’t fit anyone’s standard definition of a hero.  Moreover, he was just a private on the day he won his Medal.  Don’t sell your people short, for any one of them may be the hero who rises to the occasion when duty calls.  On the other hand, it’s easy to turn to your proven performers when the chips are down, but don’t ignore the rest of the team.  Today’s rookie could and should be tomorrow’s superstar. 

6.  Leaders Should Be Humble.  Most modern day heroes and some leaders are anything but humble, especially if you calibrate your “hero meter” on today’s athletic fields.  End zone celebrations and self-aggrandizement are what we’ve come to expect from sports greats.  Not Mr. Crawford-he was too busy working to celebrate his past heroics. Leaders would be well-served to do the same. 

7.  Life Won’t Always Hand You What You Think You Deserve.  We in the military work hard and, dang it, we deserve recognition, right?  However, sometimes you just have to persevere, even when accolades don’t come your way. Perhaps you weren’t nominated for junior officer or airman of the quarter as you thought you should - don’t let that stop you. 

8.  Don’t pursue glory; pursue excellence.  Private Bill Crawford didn’t pursue glory; he did his duty and then swept floors for a living. No job is beneath a Leader.  If Bill Crawford, a Medal of Honor winner, could clean latrines and smile, is there a job beneath your dignity?  Think about it. 

9.  Pursue Excellence.  No matter what task life hands you, do it well. Dr. Martin Luther King  said, “If life makes you a street sweeper, be the best street sweeper you can be.” Mr. Crawford modeled that philosophy and helped make our dormitory area a home. 

10. Life is a Leadership Laboratory.  All too often we look to some school or PME class to teach us about leadership when, in fact, life is a leadership laboratory.  Those you meet everyday will teach you enduring lessons if you just take time to stop, look and listen.  I spent four years at the Air Force Academy, took dozens of classes, read hundreds of books, and met thousands of great people.  I gleaned leadership skills from all of them, but one of the people I remember most is Mr. Bill Crawford and the lessons he unknowingly taught.  Don’t miss your opportunity to learn. 

Bill Crawford was a janitor.  However, he was also a teacher, friend, role model and one great American hero.  Thanks, Mr. Crawford, for some valuable leadership lessons.  

Dale Pyeatt, Executive Director of the National Guard Association of Texas, comments:  And now, for the “rest of the story”:  Pvt William John Crawford was a platoon scout for 3rd Platoon of Company L 1 42nd Regiment 36th Division (Texas National Guard) and won the Medal Of Honor for his actions on Hill 424, just 4 days after the invasion at Salerno.   

On Hill 424, Pvt Crawford took out 3 enemy machine guns before darkness fell, halting the platoon’s advance.  Pvt Crawford could not be found and was assumed dead.  The request for his MOH was quickly approved.  Major General Terry Allen presented the posthumous MOH to Bill Crawford’s father, George, on 11 May 1944 in Camp (now Fort) Carson, near Pueblo.  Nearly two months after that, it was learned that Pvt Crawford was alive in a POW camp in Germany.  During his captivity, a German guard clubbed him with his rifle.  Bill overpowered him, took the rifle away, and beat the guard unconscious.  A German doctor’s testimony saved him from severe punishment, perhaps death.  To stay ahead of the advancing Russian army, the prisoners were marched 500 miles in 52 days in the middle of the German winter, subsisting on one potato a day.  An allied tank column liberated the camp in the spring of 1945, and Pvt Crawford took his first hot shower in 18 months on VE Day. Pvt Crawford stayed in the army before retiring as a MSG and becoming a janitor.  In 1984, President Ronald Reagan officially presented the MOH to Bill Crawford.   

William Crawford passed away in 2000.  He is the only U.S. Army veteran and sole Medal of Honor winner to be buried in the cemetery of the U.S. Air Force Academy.   

Note:  Co. James Moschgat can be contacted at  A profile of William Crawford is available at, and his Medal of Honor citation can be found at  

Mentoring Programs:  I
nformal Commitment is Critical

By John Joseph, Wharton Center for Leadership and Change

Does your company have a mentoring program?  If not, it may be time to start one.  Many companies are turning to formal mentoring programs or encouraging senior managers to informally seek out and counsel less experienced protégés.  The results include better career planning among managers, less stress during periods of change, and faster learning in new assignments. 

Academic research reveals that individuals that experience strong mentoring relationships achieve more promotions and greater income, and are most satisfied with their work.  Effective mentors provide their protégés with confidence-building support, broadened contacts, and exposure to upper management.  Mentors can also provide a powerful role model and furnish invaluable career advice, all of which build a protégé’s sense of competence and effectiveness. 

Mentors generally benefit too:  They gain personal satisfaction from helping others, a new found respect for their own capabilities, and a chance to reflect on their own career directions.  

Saturn, the auto manufacturer, actively encourages informal mentoring but has a formal program in place as well.  For the formal program, Saturn recruits managers who have been especially successful in balancing their personal and professional lives, leading teams, and managing conflict.  The company then links these veteran managers with less experienced managers who are committed to building their skill set. 

At Johnson & Johnson, mentoring is voluntary at some operating companies and formal at others.  Regardless of formality, the key factor is whether the mentor is strongly committed.  When so, protégés receive, among other benefits, broader exposure to key developmental assignments. 

Formal mentorships often last less than a year, while informal relationships often persist for many years, and the latter are less likely to suffer from personal incompatibilities and waning commitment.  Formal mentoring programs should thus be seen as a useful supplement to – rather than a replacement for –informal mentoring.  Formal mentoring initiatives tend to work best when they follow the principles implicit in informal programs, including the right of both mentors and protégés to pick their own counterparts.  The evidence also points to the value of encouraging managers to seek out multiple mentors in diverse functions and varying levels of the organization. 

Note: John Joseph can be contacted at

a Capacity that Matters:
  Management Improvisation

Improvisation entails intuitively reworking familiar material to create fresh approaches to unanticipated events.  In an unpredictable and fast-changing climate, improvising solutions to unexpected challenges can be critical.  And if managers are to be good at improvisation, they need in advance to have developed a capacity that allows them to build on the past while simultaneously casting a fresh eye on the future.  

During the Apollo 13 mission to the moon in April, 1970, an explosion nearly proved fatal to the three astronauts on board, but through improvisation, the mission astronauts and ground controllers solved a host of problems to achieve a safe return to earth.  

The NASA manual stipulated many unbreakable rules, but at the same time it also stated that “the flight director can do anything he feels is necessary for the safety of the crew and the conduct of the flight regardless of mission rules.”  The flight manual thus provided a detailed recipe for action that at the same time mandated creative application of it.  

Not long before the launching of Apollo 13, NASA had simulated a sudden drop in cabin pressure – for which a survival strategy necessitated that the astronauts move from the command module to the lunar module for several days.  This “lifeboat” solution had thus been anticipated, but nobody thought it would ever been needed.  After the explosion – “Houston, we’ve had a problem” in the memorable phrase of astronaut commander James Lovell – the controllers quickly improvised just this solution, without which survival would not have been feasible. 

Organizational resilience in the face of unpredictable challenges, then, depends upon management’s devising of a culture that stresses both formal rule following and creative rule breaking. 

Source:  Claus Rerup, “‘Houston We Have a Problem’: Anticipation and Improvisation as Sources of Organizational Resilience,” Comportamento Organizacional e Gestao (Vol. 7, No. 1, 2001), pp. 27-44.

Leading Groups
:  Put Your Heart into It 

By Mark Davidson, Wharton Leadership Ventures

I’ve worked for two Fortune 500 companies and a Big-5 consulting firm, started two new business ventures, I’m presently on the boards of two multi-million dollar non-profit organizations – and I’m continually surprised at how much valuable time is wasted in disorganized meetings and on fuzzy agendas designed by ineffective leaders. 

Recently I had an opportunity to participate in a week-long learning program entitled Group Leadership Intensive (GLI), and it has helped me appreciate how better to run meetings, teams, and agendas.  GLI provided us participants with an opportunity to test different leadership styles with groups facing crisis and ambiguity.  It encouraged us to think beyond stereotypes, understand individuals, and clarify our goals.  It pressed us to ask the right questions at the right time, know when to take charge and when to get out of the way, and tap into the potential of everybody on the team.  

I left with greater resolve to focus on six concepts in leading any group or launching any agenda:  

Act with intent:  Everything we do conveys a message.  Know what message you want to convey and orient your entire presence and being around that intent. 

Plan your work, work your plan, and prepare for the inevitable last minute change:  Have a plan, be prepared, know your material, know your team, and anticipate that everything may change despite your best efforts to control a situation.  Capitalize on rather than resisting the opportunity that unexpected presents. 

Acknowledge your own biases:  Our up-bringing, private lives, and professional ambitions all influence how we think and lead.  Surfacing our personal biases in these areas builds trust:  others may not find our biases agreeable, but they’ll better understand our intent. 

Distinguish between process and task:   Whenever your goals exceed your own skills, you need other people, and the quickest way to alienate your team is to ignore, or worse, not fully explain your intended process for achieving the goals.  With better understanding of the process, you’ll have a more committed team. 

Question your assumptions:  Unquestioned notions about yourself and your team members can undermine your ability to communicate anything to the team. 

Analyze with your head and speak with your heart:  Solid analytic frameworks are pre-requisite to any successful venture, but to get to the bottom line, you need more than a number.  It will require a compelling story that inspires you, and if you offer it with passion and optimism, others will find it infectious too.

Note:  Mark Davidson can be contacted by email at  Information on GLI is available from Morgan Henderson at

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