William P. Barnett

On how we meet and treat people

How we meet and treat people in our organization is a well-recognized success factor. Leaders are, by definition, expected to master people’s minds and behaviors but as we know, this is not an easy task. In order to reach a good organizational culture, we must invest money and time in learning and in trying different leadership methods. We should also boost and facilitate cross-culture interactions. And most importantly, we should be able to interpret people’s behavior: do they take risks? If not, why not? Do they work across silos? If not, why not? Just by listening and viewing the environment in an organization provides us with enormous amounts of information and helps us lead better.

William P. Barnett is an American organizational theorist, and is the Thomas M. Siebel Professor of Business Leadership, Strategy, and Organizations at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Barnett studies competition between organizations and how organizations and industries evolve over time. He has studied how strategic differences and strategic change inside organizations affect their growth, performance, and survival. He has visited and studied hundreds of companies during his long career.

We met William in Palo Alto and asked him what kind of characteristics he pays attention to when entering a company, and when trying to understand its culture.