Yardley resident Jeff Leventry, a professor of business at Rider University and the College of New Jersey, has just published a new book, “In Your Quest for Excellence,” a 13-chapter guide to time-tested and empirically-based strategies for success.
Jeff melds his knowledge and experience as an undergraduate and MBA level business professor with his prior career as a business litigator into his 66-page book.
It is a “how to” guide for successfully navigating the business world, both as a worker and at the management level, developed from popular articles he has published in various business journals and magazines over the years.
The book examines individual success, organizational success, teaming, and finally leadership and management.
- “You’ve got to be flexible. Things change, companies merge and you have to reinvent yourself. You have to have a skill set that gives you a value proposition.” Jeff himself was part of a 5,000 employee downsizing at Cigna Insurance where he managed the litigation of environmental pollution cases and was dean of Cigna’s AMRE Business School in Princeton, NJ. He parlayed his teaching skill and knowledge of the business world to establish a career in college teaching and founded his own personal consulting firm out of his home.
- You have to be able to influence people, whether you are in the rank-and-file of an organization or in management. “People will listen to you if they like and trust you.” Jeff refers to this as “referent power,” and it is one of five powers of influence he examines.
- Positive attitude is a key to being influential in business success. A graduate of Villanova Law School, Jeff quotes from a book by Villanova basketball coach Jay Wright: “A lot of people in business have a negative attitude. If you have a positive attitude – people will listen and follow you.”
- Coaching is a huge key in today’s business success. Your coach does not have to be your manager. It can be a respected colleague. “Your coach is a thought partner who helps you find solutions to problems you experience. People in business help you find the answer, not give it to you. It’s a lot like the Socratic method.”
The book next examines business at the organizational level:
- He finds that employees will work for a company if they trust them. Young people want to work for companies that will give back to the community and also do well for the planet. They must have the three P’s: profit, planet, people. The best companies address all three. Gone are the days where profit is the only bottom line.”
- Organizations are now championing women and minorities in organizations. Many organizations find that women can be better leaders because of strong emotional intelligence and empathy. “You are finding more women on boards of directors and in leadership positions of companies today.”
Jeff explains that almost all organizations today organize around or emphasize teaming:
- There are five essential ingredients to teaming, first and foremost of which is trust in your team members. He also points out that team members must have complimentary skills, commitment to a common goal or purpose, and honest, open communication.
- If a team doesn’t have a genuine leader who cares and is not authentic, members “see through it.” Some people keep their mouth shut, fly under the radar, and just stay out of trouble. Jeff has personally observed that “flying under the radar” syndrome destroys all risk-taking and creativity in organizations.
The book closes by examining successful leadership and management:
- The number one quality everyone looks for in a strong leader is integrity. If employees think, “When you say something, I believe you,” based on a leader’s past record, they will follow them. Yearly surveys done by the Gallop Poll and organizations such as the Center for Creative Leadership invariably identify “integrity” as the number one leadership factor.
- This section of the book closes by stating that “Servant Leaders” are the most successful leaders. Servant leaders are the antithesis of “Do as I say Leaders.” He or she is a humble person. If something great happens, the team gets the credit. Jeff says, “They are passionate and humble at the same time…they are not self-promoters.”
Since he and other business teachers are preparing students for future jobs that do not yet exist, Jeff strongly believes that the following skillsets are essential for success in the business world:
- Effective business writing skills.
- Public speaking/presentations skills.
- Decision-making skills.
- Problem solving skills – people who possess this ability are invaluable.
- Interpersonal skills – working in teams is the new normal.
- Project management skills – most companies assign you to participate in projects in addition to your day job.
PHOTO CAP: Jeff Leventry at a recent book-signing event.