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George Bradt
George Bradt
Offering a unique perspective on transformational leadership based on his combined senior line management, journalistic, and consulting experience. Founder of executive onboarding group PrimeGenesis, author of four books on onboarding and “The New Leader’s Playbook” weekly column on


Jan. 18, 2011 6:56 am
It was a drill. We all knew it was a drill. The accident had been staged so the Life Squad, Fire Department and Police Department could practice working together. We got to the scene to find a car in a ravine with victims spread around the car. We worked our way down the embankment to the first victim and turned him over. The paramedic in charge of triage recognized that victim as her...  Read More
Jan. 15, 2011 8:25 am
In their imperative workshop, one new leader and his team developed hypotheses around how to grow. They tested those hypotheses and then, later, chose which efforts on which to focus. Now they were ready to share their new priorities with the company's ownership. At this point, we pushed them to come up with a stretch plan as a way to change the dialogue. Instead of asking their owners to poke...  Read More
Jan. 11, 2011 6:33 am
When Jared L. Loughner opened fire on Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and others in a supermarket parking lot in Arizona this past weekend, some ran away, some froze, and some ran to help. What Daniel Hernandez said on the Today Show on Monday morning was extraordinary. He explained that he "checked the pulse and breathing of two or three victims before determining that the congresswoman was...  Read More
Dec. 8, 2010 9:45 am
"she stood in the storm, and when the wind did not go her way — and surely it has not — she adjusted her sails.” - Elizabeth Edwards, Resilience Reflecting on Elizabeth Edwards today, I'm struck by her ability to face up to some of the most horrendous personal tragedies any human being ever has to deal with and keep going. Not only did she adjust her sails, she redefined and delivered her...  Read More
Dec. 2, 2010 6:54 am
Charlie Carroll was the newly appointed General Manager of Procter & Gamble's newly acquired Norwich Eaton subsidiary. He was on his first visit to Norwich Eaton's Mexican business and was talking to the businesses' Country Manager. "Tell me about this product." "This is the #1 selling prescription drug in Mexico!" "What does it do?" "Nothing." "Excuse me????" "It's a placebo. Where...  Read More
Nov. 29, 2010 6:22 am
The owners and staff at the Jones Family Farms in Shelton, CT get it. People go there to take advantage of the farms' 200-acres of harvest-your-own Christmas trees (or berries or pumpkins). They leave with priceless memories of a wonderful family experience. The farm is beautiful. The layout is terrific. The trees are great. But what really sets this place apart is the way they treat their...  Read More
Nov. 28, 2010 7:06 am
It's an indelible image - 2008 drummers performing as one to open the Beijing Olympics. Moments like that do not happen by chance. They are the result of a vision executed with excellence. And that execution is born of direction, training, and disciplined practice. Whomever was in charge of that opening ceremony knew what they wanted and what they were willing to give up to get it. Do you? ...  Read More
Nov. 26, 2010 5:57 am
Guy walks into a high-end auto repair shop with his very old car needing repairs. The mechanic takes a look at the car and says "We're not the right tool for you. You need someone who can patch this together to last another 20,000 miles. Sometime between now and then, you need to sell the car." That mechanic got ALL of that guy's auto repair work for the next 15 years. A man I just met told...  Read More
Nov. 21, 2010 3:04 pm
What do you want and what are you willing to give up to get it? The answer was clear for Marco Iannuzzi. He wanted to play football for Harvard and he was willing to give up a lot of time and deal with a lot of pain and risk to get there. Anyone watching his game-changing kickoff runback yesterday from the Harvard side of the field was thrilled he did. Marco's story is told far better than I...  Read More
Nov. 21, 2010 8:03 am
US Army Colonel Randy Chase spent 10 days on a navy ship for cross-training. On his second day, he ran out of toothpaste so went over to the ship's store to buy another tube. The stores on a navy ship aren't as big as your typical suburban supermarket (only two people can fit in the store at a time), so he had to wait in a short line to get in. While he was waiting, he struck up a conversation...  Read More
Nov. 5, 2010 4:26 pm
So painful. So preventable. So frustrating. It would have been one thing if Haiti had been hit by a hurricane the week after the earthquake. But this is ten months later! What's the matter with the people in charge of this recovery? Actions and choices have consequences. Sometimes you have to deal with unanticipated consequences. In this case, it was reasonable to assume that the island was...  Read More
Oct. 26, 2010 6:09 am
Fifteen years ago one of the Doctors Without Borders spoke about going into refugee camps in Ruwanda. She told us about her most urgent priorities, not so much treating those that are sick, but securing the water supply, and the food supply, and vaccinating everyone to prevent the spread of disease. If Doctors Without Borders knew this fifteen years ago, surely the earthquake aid workers in...  Read More
Oct. 25, 2010 11:02 am
Tom Harper reports in Friday's Daily Mail that Equatorial Guinea's president Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo has hired Simon Mann as a security advisor. What's extraordinary about this is that Simon Mann led a failed coup against President Obiang six years ago and was sentenced to 34 years in prison. As you develop your own best practices in onboarding, moving in and out of assignments and...  Read More
Oct. 10, 2010 8:11 pm
The secret of happiness is apparent from the most recent survey of Harvard's class of 1980. It turns out happiness is good. Actually, there are three goods. Everyone strives for each of the three though each person weights them differently. (Some weight them very differently.) The three goods are: 1) Good for others. 2) Good for me. 3) Good at it. For its 30th reunion, Harvard's class of...  Read More
Sep. 30, 2010 6:30 am
Lots of interaction with leaders this week. CEO Forum on Monday. CEO Boot Camp Monday evening through Tuesday. ELEM awards Tuesday evening. Joseph Wharton Dinner Wednesday evening. How I personally felt about the various presentations and discussions came down to the quality of the stories. That we communicate with stories is not new. It's been going on since the invention of language (or...  Read More
Sep. 20, 2010 5:07 am
I walked away from a ten-year relationship with a supplier this week because they made me feel bad. I've been staying in their hotel on a regular basis since 2000 and have held a conference there every year for five years. It's a truly wonderful property. We love staying there. They do a nice job on our events. But, negotiating the event contract is torture each year. The sales people don't...  Read More
Sep. 17, 2010 5:42 am
I had worked flat out for 16 hours writing up a market share summary. It went through countless iterations as it worked its way up my management ladder. Finally, my boss’s boss’s boss’s boss signed off on it and asked me to give him 12 copies to forward. Since it was after 4:30 and all the secretaries had left, I made the copies myself. When I brought him back the copies, he took one look and...  Read More
Aug. 21, 2010 10:41 am
This is a true story of one of the worst onboarding cases in history as told by Wharton Professor Michael Useem. May 31, 1862. The Union forces were about to overrun the Confederate capital, Richmond. Confederate President Jeff Davis went out to the front to see what was going on for himself. There he found his commander-in-chief, Joe Johnston lying on the ground, wounded and unable to...  Read More
Jul. 29, 2010 6:32 pm
At first, Nathaniel did not buy the concept that he should start before his “official” Day One. He wanted to take some time off so that he could show up at his new job rested and relaxed. Further, he felt uncomfortable asking for meetings before he was “officially” on the job. Eventually he agreed to try several of our suggested actions before Day One. Here is exactly what he wrote to us...  Read More
Jul. 19, 2010 6:40 am
Betty was announcing a set of changes in her organization all at the same time. She wanted to let people know in the right order, make sure they all had the same understanding and not disenfranchise her managers all at the same time. The key pieces of her announcement cascade included: Have one-on-one conversations with individuals most emotionally impacted - including key peers, but not...  Read More
Jul. 15, 2010 7:00 am
The CEO and a member of his board of directors were walking down the hall during a break. The board member casually asked how things were going in Japan. (They were going fine.) The CEO mentioned to the company President that the board member had asked about Japan. Then the President told the Asia Group President that the board was concerned about the company’s progress in Japan. So...  Read More
Jul. 8, 2010 6:53 am
Gerry was a volunteer with his local life squad/ambulance service. One day he heard an accident while raking leaves in his front lawn. He ran down to the end of the street and started treating the victims, enrolling bystanders to summon the police, life squad and help in other ways. Two of the victims walked away and two had to be taken to the hospital. After the run to the hospital,...  Read More
Jul. 5, 2010 2:21 pm
Everything was on track for Jack to take over as CEO. He had met all the relevant board members. He had spent 50 hours eyeball to eyeball with the outgoing CEO. They had all agreed all the terms of Jack's transition and of the outgoing CEO's transition into the chairmanship role. Jack had even met with the public relations agency to get the wording and timing of the public announcement right. ...  Read More
Jun. 30, 2009 10:51 am
There are some lessons to be learned from Obama and the fly. Just to make sure everyone is on the same page, Obama was in an interview when he got buzzed by a fly. He recognized the fly as a problem. He waited for his opportunity. He squashed the fly. He celebrated. He cleaned up the mess. The learning is applicable to onboarding as well as other situations: Prepare in advance; have a...  Read More
Apr. 26, 2009 11:23 am
As we near the end of Obama’s first 100 days, much is being written about what has worked or not worked so far. Keep in mind that a new leader’s first 100 days are important far less for what is actually accomplished and far more for what seeds have been planted “that will bloom” later. Jump-start strategic, operational and organizational processes In our work with new leaders, we have seen...  Read More
Jan. 21, 2009 11:44 am
OK, this is only the 24,000th blog written about Barack Obama's speech yesterday. And I'm sure there are politicos and historians who will wax much more eloquent than me (for example, see the New York Times Editorial ). But since this blog is about leadership, I can't pass up the opportunity to analyze his speech from the standpoint of leadership. Many people I've talked with have said, "It was...  Read More
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