Reader Letter: On Orrin “Guru” Woodward
Here’s a letter from a reader calling himself BadKL. His family recently became involved with TEAM, and BadKL decided to do some independent research on TEAM. He hones in on the oft-quoted “Leadership Guru” title of Orrin Woodward (and Chris Brady), and — like LazyMan and me — comes to the conclusion that it’s a dubious claim.
Minor grammatical changes have been made to the post for better readability.
On Orrin “Guru” Woodward:
One of the biggest pulls I’ve heard the T.E.A.M. Speakers have repeatedly used to numb listeners’ brains and lull them into a false sense of security is by mentioning ad nauseum the fact that Orrin Woodward was named as on of the “Top 10 Leadership Gurus” in the world, though they never mention the source of this ranking or its genuine significance. Well, do a little research (plus follow the link from Woodward’s OWN site) and one finds that it was the Independent Association of Businesses (who?) that hailed Orrin’s blog, which so many of his followers find as inspirational, as one of the best in America.
But wait a tick, he wasn’t actually named a “Leadership Guru” anywhere on this site, it was just his blog that was nominated, by submission from the IABUSA website patrons, as one of the “Top 10 Leadership Websites” for the year 2010. Seriously. Now of course this is probably a minor error from whatever webmaster built this site for Orrin, but it definitely is a comical error which makes his “Guru” claim a little dubious.
Now what does this mean, exactly? Well it means that some small business association, with as far as I can see very little weight or credentials behind it, has had Orrin Woodward’s blog NOMINATED BY THE SITE’S PATRONS as being one of the Top 10 sites for that year. More importantly, the site really only considered American submissions (with one adopted Canadian on the list), it being the IABUSA (tag line “America’s Premier Membership Association”). The direct criteria laid out by the IABUSA of what qualified a website for nomination was that they “develop and influence leaders and leadership throughout American businesses.” The IABUSA site, using the leadership website candidates, held a poll amongst its many, many unique viewers *cough cough* and Woodward’s blog was voted second best to the tune of roughly 15 percent, though leader Jim Collins collected a whopping 33 percent in this very scientific and balanced measurement (which, for those counting at home, had 143 votes).
The claim of him being a “Leadership Guru” is actually sourced from the site leadershipgurus.net, whose criteria for their awards is here. If you take any time to examine the site, you find that it’s just a list site, with “Top 30 Guru” lists for this and that and not a lot of substance. Why do I say that? Because there is no definition of what entitles someone to be a “Guru”, even from the people that supposedly are designating the world’s Top Guru’s! Confusing, no? More importantly they seem to be an end all to themselves, meaning that they can claim whatever they want without much merit or competition, the result being the dearth of other leadership-guru tracker website. I guess when no one else is doing it that makes you the premier adjudicator.
One of the qualifiers for their leadership list is “Guru factor” (no sh*t!), which necessitates further definition since that’s what’s being ranked, correct? But sadly you will not find a further explanation for this murky, je ne sais quoi factor which, even if it provided little impetus in the final evaluation of the candidates, still makes this whole business of appointing leadership gurus a rather unsubstantiated cause. It’s akin to accounting for “swagger” when talking about what (enter sport) (enter position) have the best skill set.
But there must have been some ranking system in place, and I will allow for the fact that leadershipgurus.net did email some 22,000 individuals with business ties (business people, consultants, academics and MBA’s), which is like declaring the winner of the next election by using phone polls. While there might be some genuine truth to the results, the validity of the claim is what is at question here. And clearly, given everything that has been said about Orrin and his nasty habit of building pyramid schemes, personal history wasn’t weighted when it came to evaluating the leadership qualities of these “Gurus”.