Immediate Release                                                                           

Developing the Ideal Leader for 21st Century Organizations is the Heart of the Newly-Published: “Apples Are Square: Thinking Differently About Leadership.”

  • 25 Highly Effective Leaders of Today Guide the Authors to a Fresh View of Leadership, and How it can be Developed


Chicago, IL—In their newly-published book “Apples are Square:  Thinking Differently about Leadership,” leadership and innovation authors Dr. Susan Smith Kuczmarski and Thomas Kuczmarski reveal the results of their five-year search for characteristics of the ideal 21st century leader.

In this groundbreaking work, they call for a sharp break with the “control and compete” style so typical of organizations in years past, in favor of a new approach that puts people first and leads to higher performing organizations across every dimension of performance. 

The authors identify six critical values that are changing the way successful people lead and succeed.  They present seven steps to take that can lead a person to understand and implement the critical values.

“We did not search for one person who represents the ideal leader,” says Susan Kuczmarski.  “We believe that effective leaders reflect a number of different characteristics, often in different ways—personal qualities that draw the very best from people who are working together in an enterprise.”

In the course of their work, the Kuczmarskis interviewed more than 100 people who demonstrate approaches to leadership that break with top-down traditions of the past.  Ultimately they settled on 25 people for the in-depth interviews that are central to the book’s narrative. The leaders come from the corporate, academic, nonprofit, and government sectors, as well as from the world of entertainment.  (Complete list follows.)

Among those whose views are central to “Apples Are Square” are Craig Newmark, founder of craigslist; Dean Kamen, inventor of the Segway vehicle and president of DEKA Research; Carol Bernick,Chairman of the Board and Director of Alberto Culver; Dipak Jain, dean of the Kellogg School of Management; the actress Susan Anton; Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky; former NASA astronaut Mary Ellen Weber; and Christopher Zorich, former Chicago Bear linebacker and founder of the Christopher Zorich Foundation.

It was Zorich who gave the book its unusual title.  Growing up in Chicago’s public housing, Zorich told the tale of his mother cutting the brown spots off apples she had scavenged, leading Zorich to think as a child that “apples are square.”

“It was a perfect way to express so much that is central to our book,” said Thomas Kuczmarski.  “We all know about the control, compete, and compare style of leadership.  We believe that approach is out of date and counterproductive.  What we propose is radically new—six uncommon qualities of leadership that can transform a workplace.  The 25 people we interview are, like the square apple, outside the ordinary.  Many of them have never been on magazine covers, or on the talk show circuit.  Yet they set a direction and style of leadership that is all about the people in an enterprise, not about the leader.”

The Six Values
Squaring an apple, by cutting the sides, top, and bottom, leaves six sides, which is the book’s metaphor for the six leadership qualities identified by the Kuczmarskis that contrast so sharply with traditional views of leadership.

  • Humility:  Not always feeling responsible for providing an answer; being able to step aside while another steps to the front.
  • Compassion:   Having genuine concern for the well-being of others.
  • Transparency:  Being open to others, leading to openness, fairness, integrity, and truthfulness throughout the organization.
  • Inclusiveness: Accepting and recognizing people’s differences, opinions, and perspectives.
  • Collaboration: Working together to achieve a common goal.
  • Values-based Decisiveness: Making decisions is central to an organization.  Decisions based on values should be trouble free and effortless.

The Seven Steps Necessary to Bring About Change
The authors recognize that the six values they identify are far from the norm in most organizations, and describe that as the central challenge to people seeking a style of leadership appropriate to 21st century organizations.  In “Apples Are Square,” key chapters are devoted to the seven steps necessary to embrace the six values. 

The seven steps begin with reaching out to serve others as a way of developing a service-oriented mindset.  Others include learning one’s personal values, a precursor to the importance of learning the values of those one works with.  The authors emphasize the importance of finding common ground through questions such as “Who are we?” and “What are our needs?”  A step called “Don’t take the pleats out,” encourages people to express inner feelings and creative thoughts and not lose the fervor and passion that should drive an organization.  Learning to “root for people” helps employees develop their potential and build a caring team. 

The seventh step, one unusual in the world of business, is to “leave some money on the table.”  According to the Kuczmarski’s, success does not always mean extracting the last dime from a business deal.  They tell the story of Henry S. Givray, Chairman and CEO of SmithBucklin Corporation, the worlds largest association management company. In selling a high tech firm earlier in his career, Givray  passed up a $1 million payout asking instead that it be distributed to shareholders. 

“I did what felt right,” said Givray, “and it was easy for me because I have always believed that doing things that are right is a much more powerful guide than doing things to derive a specific award.”

“Apples Are Square,” is a guide for people seeing an approach to leadership beyond the top-down traditions of management, a leadership style that embraces people and is rooted in values.  It is based on the belief that such organizations will, in the long run, outperform the competition while providing a life rich with meaning.


About the Authors:

Dr. Susan Smith Kuczmarski is an educator, lecturer, and authority on values-based leadership. Trained as a social scientist, she has done extensive research on how leadership skills are learned. She has taught at seven universities, worked in three nonprofit organizations, including the United Nations, and co-founded an innovation consulting firm, Kuczmarski & Associates, in Chicago. She is the author of two award-winning books, The Family Bond and The Sacred Flight of the Teenager. A teacher of teachers for ten years and well-known for her innovative style, Dr. Kuczmarski conducts interactive workshops and seminars on leadership, teams, and culture for corporate, nonprofit, and educational groups. She is a recognized teen, family, and leadership expert, and a lively radio and television guest, viewed by international audiences. She holds a Doctorate in Education and two master's degrees from Columbia University in New York City, where she was named an International Fellow, and an undergraduate degree form Colorado College. She was recently selected for inclusion in 500 Leaders of World Influence, Outstanding People of the 21st Century, 2000 Outstanding Writers of the 20th Century, and International Who's Who of Professional and Business Women, and has been listed in Who's Who in the World for twelve years.

Thomas Kuczmarski is Founder and Senior Partner at Kuczmarski & Associates, a nationally recognized new products and services and innovation management consulting firm. He has written three books on innovation, including Managing New Products, Innovation, and Innovating the Corporation. He co-founded, with the Chicago Sun-Times, the annual Chicago Innovation Awards. For the past 27 years, he has been an adjunct professor of New Products and Services at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management, where he teaches his popular graduate and executive courses on innovation. He was a brand manager at Quaker Oats and a principal at Booz, Allen & Hamilton. He holds two masters degrees in business and international affairs from Columbia University, and a B.A. from the College of the Holy Cross. He is regularly quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Newsweek, Investor's Business Daily, USA Today, Advertising Age, and the Chicago Sun-Times. He has appeared on the Today Show, and speaks on the topic of innovation around the world. His research, writing, books, speeches, seminars, teaching, and pragmatic consulting have made him one of the top leading experts in his field. Married for three decades, the authors live in Chicago and are the parents of three sons.

The 25 Leaders

Corporate, Entrepreneurial and Business Worlds
Jack Riopelle, CEO of Wisconsin Film & Bag
Carol Bernick, Chairman of the Board and Director of Alberto-Culver
Randy Larrimore, retired CEO of United Stationers
Henry Givray, Chairmen and CEO of SmithBucklin
Dean Kamen, President of DEKA Research
Craig Newmark, Founder of craigslist
Robin Gilman, innovation and communications consultant
Paulette Cole, CEO and Creative Director of ABC Home and ABC Home & Planet Foundation
Jerry Fisher, retired Chief of R&D at Baxter Healthcare
Brian Sorge, Vice President of Client Solutions, Lambert & Associates
Scott Lutz, innovation executive at Procter & Gamble, General Mills, Dupont and Con Agra

Academic World
Dipak Jain, Dean of Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management
Galeta Kaar Clayton, Founder and Headmistress, Chicago City Day School

Non-Profit Sector
Christopher Zorich, Chairman, Chris Zorich Foundation; attorney at Schuyler, Roche & Zwirner
Kimberly Senior, Freelance theatre director and arts educator
Joel Hall, Founder of the Joel Hall Dance Center
Virginia Duncan Gilmore, Founder of the Sophia Foundation

Entertainment Industry
Susan Anton, Broadway star, actress, and recording artist

Public Policy Sector
Charles Lewis, Founder of the Center for Public Integrity
Kaethe Morris Hoffer, private feminist lawyer and activist

Personal Empowerment
Kevin Melville Jennings, healer and counselor

Government Sector
Mary Ellen Weber, former NASA astronaut
Jan Schakowsky, US Congresswoman
Leon Despres, former Chicago alderman
Vincent Patton, retired Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard

Ray Boyer
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Read about the Book Dr Susan Smith Kuczmarski and Tom Kuczmarski - the two authors who are defining Values-Based Leadership Meet the 25 Leaders interviewed for this book Read what other leaders and experts think about the book For Members of the Press Improve Corporate Performance Through Innovative Leadership The book that started it all eleven years ago Kuczmarski & Associates Contact members of the Apples are Square team Buy the book at Back to the Title Page