8

Too Much

The Motor Mouth

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Boring others to tears

Michel had been a great college business professor. He had no trouble delivering a three-hour lecture; given his deep expertise and careful preparation for each class, he could easily have talked for twice as long. He was particularly beloved by his introductory students because he was so good at breaking down complex concepts. He'd start almost every lecture with a reminder of basic business principles and then build from there.

Unfortunately, he wasn't in a lecture hall anymore. Michel was now the president of a division of a major global corporation. And the qualities that had made him successful in his former field were giving him significant trouble in his new one.

“We know he's smart,” said the board member who called me for help. “Trust me, we definitely know that. But he's boring us to tears! We can't go on like this much longer.”

Michel was drowning the board in information overload. He knew he'd been hired as the new president primarily to capitalize on growth opportunities in developing markets. But instead of showing the board one chart of the projected growth, he'd show them seven—and he'd spend 15 minutes explaining each. He'd drone on and on—one grueling detail after another—and then circle the wagons to share even more information.

The board members were experienced business leaders, not the college freshmen Michel ...

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