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Leadership Lessons from the Susan G. Komen Foundation

This is a guest post by Dani Robbins, a Metcalf & Associates, Inc. Associate.

As we all know by now, the Susan G. Komen Foundation Board of Directors adopted and then quickly revised (in response to fierce opposition) a policy that disallowed financial support to organizations that are under investigation, even politically motivated investigations, after a Florida Republican began an investigation into Planned Parenthood to assess if any Federal funding was being used to support abortions.

It all took less than a week, but during that week, some powerful leadership lessons emerged.

Let’s start in Philadelphia from whence the article entitled Komen foundation needs cure for backlash over Planned Parenthood cutoff hails. The article says ”The Susan G. Komen foundation, a behemoth in breast cancer philanthropy and creator of the immensely successful Race for the Cure brand, is battling a public-relations debacle. Within hours of Tuesday’s news that Komen would stop giving grants to Planned Parenthood for breast health services, donations began pouring in to the family planning organization while pink-ribbon crusaders vowed to cut Komen off.”

Talk about picking a hill to die on! Regardless of if you are pro choice or pro-life, love Planned Parenthood, love Komen, hate one, or hate the other, the Komen Board found themselves with a PR tsunami. NPR.org called it “one of the worst weeks in terms of public relations of any organization in recent memory.” And Komen is the PR queens of pink.

National Foundation Boards, like many Boards, tend to be filled with very smart, talented, passionate and connected people. I can only surmise that they greatly underestimated the ramifications of their decisions. Or that Board members who did not agree, also did not speak up! Stupid things happen, sometimes because they are allowed to happen.

The Washington Post reported ”Komen has been deluged with negative emails and Facebook postings, accusing it of knuckling under to pressure from anti-abortion groups, since The Associated Press reported on Tuesday that the charity was halting grants that Planned Parenthood affiliates used for breast exams and related services. The grants totaled $680,000 last year.” The article goes onto say “Besides $400,000 in smaller donations from 6,000 people, Planned Parenthood is receiving $250,000 from a family foundation in Dallas and a $250,000 pledge announced Thursday by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to match future donations.”

Leadership at any level is hard. Leaders make decisions. Some decisions will be unpopular. Some will be unwelcomed. Some will be unsafe for the leader but right for the organization. “Is this the hill you want to die on?” is a great question to ask before you charge forward.

It may well be the hill you want to die on. We all have values and when we’re lucky and intentional, we work at a place where the values of the company match our values. The question comes up less in this environment but it still comes up, especially if leadership, at the Board or senior level, changes.

What if you work with someone who continues to make sexually charged comments or gestures? You’ve said something to him. (Sorry; it’s usually a him.) You’ve said something to your boss. Where do you take it from there? What is the price?

What if the culture has changed around you? What if a board member/s or manager encourages you to do something you believe is unwise, or unethical or illegal? What if other Board members disagree but remain silent? What if you’re in charge and despite your best efforts to the contrary, you cannot align your values and the organizational values. In those circumstances, it may very well be the hill you want to die on.

What if your women focused work place decides to de-fund another women focused organization? Maybe you charge the hill. Maybe go away quietly. Where do the lines go between burning bridges and refusing to be a part of something that is abhorrent to you?

Mollie Williams, the Komen official who resigned to protest the organization’s decision to defund Planned Parenthood, managed to do both, and to do it brilliantly. She is quoted in The Atlantic as saying “Thank you for contacting me. As a public health professional, I must honor the confidentiality of my former employer, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, and for this reason, I ‘m not responding to questions about Komen’s decision to no longer fund Planned Parenthood. The divide between these two very important organizations saddens me. I am hopeful their passionate and courageous leaders, Nancy Brinker and Cecile Richards, can swiftly resolve this conflict in a manner that benefits the women they both serve.”

Now, you might note that other than offering respect, she didn’t say much, but then, again, she didn’t have to. Because she left, and that says it all.

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

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Photo credit:  flickr: Gavin St. Ours

Randy Wilcox – Culture of Customer Service Creates a Competitive Advantage

Randy Wilcox is a Principal in the firm of Long and Wilcox which is a central-Ohio based real estate development company, a partner in Wilcox Development which is a Chicago based real-estate development company, and the Founder and Owner of Quest Business Centers. He founded Quest Business Centers in 1998 and Quest is currently the leading provider of business conference space in central Ohio.  He founded SARCOM, Inc. in 1983. SARCOM grew to become a national provider of technology products and services and had nearly $1 billion in sales by 1999.

Randy Wilcox has served on a number of non-profit boards including the Columbus Chamber of Commerce, United Way of Central Ohio (board member and Treasurer), the Technology Leadership Council and the OhioHealth Foundation which he chaired. He is also the former Columbus Chapter Chairman of the Young Presidents’ Organization, and a member of both the World Presidents’ Organization and the Chief Executives Organization.

Randy was a featured speaker of the TechColumbus 2011 Leadership Series sponsored by Vorys in December.

Randy talked about the key themes for success of his businesses over the past several decades:

  • Customer service must be a priority
  • Culture matters
  • Hire and retain great sales people
  • Implement strong financial reporting and controls

While all of these themes were critical to his success, the one that struck me as most interesting was how he differentiated a technology service business through creating a culture of exceptional customer service.  If your product is not differentiated, price is the main factor in making the buying decision.  Why Culture?  It is hard to create and copy so a company that gets it right can create a relatively sustainable advantage.

How did he use culture of customer satisfaction to create a premium product in IT Services?

Every employee at SARCOM knew that customer satisfaction was the most important thing they did.  When customers came in to meet Randy, he indicated that if they could walk around and ask any employee what their top priority was, all employees would indicate customer satisfaction.  If they did not, the person asking the question would get $100.  Evidently, universally, employees gave the same answer, customer satisfaction is most important.  So how did he create this culture?

  • Employees were given customer skills training
  • Employees were empowered to spend up to $500 to fix the customer complaint
  • He personally attended monthly meetings at 18 locations
  • They conducted surveys and USED the data as the foundation for root cause analysis and change

What did the company do to fix problems?

They tracked employee ability to solve problems and created a standard process based on the success they observed.  The process was:

  • Listen
  • Agree with the customer
  • Apologize for the inconvenience and frustration they experienced
  • Fix the problem
  • Follow up to ensure the problem was fixed
  • Offer a token to restore the balance for their inconvenience – often a note of apology with a tin of cookies.

This culture of satisfaction was very similar to the culture Cheryl Kruger created at Cheryl’s Cookies.  Her company was also known for a very high level of service as well as innovation.  The proof of success is in the level of customer retention and in the top and bottom line performance.  SARCOM was a very successful company at the time Randy Wilcox sold it.  He is using similar principles for Quest Business Centers.  I am a regular customer of Quest and select them over other providers because of their exception service.

Randy Wilcox has combined his value of customer service the following elements to create a winning formula for the success of multiple companies he has run or advised as a board member:

  • time to attend regular customer satisfaction meetings,
  • empowering employees to spend the company’s money to address issues,
  • creating consistent processes to address customer problems, and
  • surveying customers to find ways to improve

What are your company differentiators?  Are you creating a comprehensive system of leadership behaviors, culture, processes and measures to leverage those differentiators?

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

TEDx Columbus – Mind Bending Ideas

I attended TEDx Columbus on 11-11-11.  For those unaware of TED –  it is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. Since then its scope has become ever broader. Along with two annual conferences — the TED Conference in Long Beach and Palm Springs each spring, and the TEDGlobal conference in Edinburgh UK each summer — TED includes the award-winning TEDTalks video site, the Open Translation Project and TED Conversations, the inspiring TED Fellows and TEDx programs, and the annual TED Prize.  Ruth Milligan holds the license and is the main curator for TEDx Columbus.  After meeting Ruth several months ago, I knew this would be a must attend event and she did not disappoint.  I worked as a volunteer so I could better understand the behinds the scenes processes as well as see the speakers.  The theme of this conference was “A moment in time”.

The event is masterfully curated.  Ruth Milligan and Allyson Kuentz of Articulation Inc., her colleague managed every detail for an event with over 600 participants.  The day was choreographed from the experience people had pulling into the COSI parking lot through their exit 9 hour later.  She had gas filled balloons pop at 11:11.  The Columbus Foundation Announced the 8.7 million dollars the community donated during at 24 hour period preceding the event including their $1million match. Ruth stated that her goal was to provide a mind bending experience, she did just that.

So, what made this mind bending?  Ruth selected a broad range of speakers from many walks of life from poets, to musicians to PhD researchers.  I realize we will make sense of the day differently given our personal bias and interests (there was even a speaker talking about bias).  One of the themes I noticed was a call to connect with our human side in an era where we are massive consumers of technology.  Maryanna Klatt led us through a mindfulness meditation followed by Mark Berman who showed images of amazing bugs that surround us with great beauty that we do not notice in our daily lives.  Dirk Knemeyer talked about the need for schools to teach students not only math and science but also the ability to relate and connect.  Then Trent Tipple, survivor of 3 bouts with cancer talked about gratitude and the small act of thanking people who helped him survive.

On the other side of the coin, there were discussions of the challenges we face in our complex society.  Unthinkable challenges like human trafficking.  Theresa Flores talked about her experience as a middle class child who faced the unthinkable.  While her tale was awful in ways I cannot even imagine, she is now living testament to the strength and resilience of the human spirit.  She is dedicating her life to helping other young woman who are in the same spot.  David Burns talked about the Heartache of Education and Dirk Knemeyer talked about societal challenges we face.  They too offered ideas to move beyond these challenges.

I left feeling hopeful.  People were talking about the problems we are facing.  Young people are performing music, artists created amazing photographs to be placed in Columbus as public art.  I also met young organizer of the TEDxOhioStateUniversity, Jordan.  How exciting to meet the very talented college student who has the license to create a TEDx experience at OSU.

So, I left the evening of 11-11 with some reflections and some questions.

  • We live in a community of passionate, smart people dedicated to making the world better in different ways
  • We have much of what we need right here in Columbus and the surrounding areas to make many of the changes we want to see
  • Many of the changes really do being with being different ourselves before trying to change others

So that leads me to some personal reflections:

  • How do I want to be different going forward?  What do I want to do more of and less of?
  • How do I ensure my volunteer time is spent making an impact on things I really think matter?
  • Am I doing the basics well like recycling, composting, mindful eating, showing gratitude, collaborating with others effectively

I spent part of the weekend at a cabin in the woods at Earthtouch Nature Preserve where I serve as the Board President.  I wanted to have some serious reflection time to think about these questions and use this day 11-11 as an invitation to consider what I value.  Here are some of the things I came away with.

  • Take care of myself (I tend to be a workaholic)
  • Treat others with empathy, respect and compassion even when I do not agree with or understand their actions
  • Take care of the earth that sustains me by paying attention to my actions
  • Seek peace, honesty and harmony in all of my dealings (sounds fluffy but to me this means having the tough conversations so we find true peace rather than conflict avoidance).

So, if you did not attend, I invite you to check out the TEDx Columbus blog and watch some of the talks and/or performances.  After watching, consider asking yourself some of the questions above.

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To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

Jay Jordan, OCLC President Speaks at TechColumbus Leadership Series

Jay Jordan is the fourth president in OCLC’s 43-year history was a featured speaker as part of the TechColumbus 2011 Leadership Series sponsored by Vorys. Jay came to OCLC in May 1998 after a 24-year career with Information Handling Services, an international publisher of databases, where he held a series of key positions in top management, including President of IHS Engineering. Prior to joining IHS, Jay held positions with the 3M Corporation in Europe and the United States.

This series was designed in a conversational format to create the greatest interest and value for senior company leaders. Veteran business builders share their philosophies and best business practices in an open, interactive setting.

As the picture shows the Presidents Jay referenced the foundation and legacy he was building on.  I have lived in Columbus for over a decade and had been to meetings at OCLC but had no idea of the service they provide for the world.  I am a huge fan of the concept of libraries – they seem to me to be one of the hallmarks of a great civilization – making knowledge accessible to anyone who can show up irrespective of income.  OCLC’s purpose is:  Furthering access to the world’s information and reducing the rate of rise of per-unit costs.   As Jay talked, a few things became clear about OCLC and about him:

  • OCLC is a global organization committed to creating a complete inventory of all libraries, museums and historic society documents so they are accessible now and for future generations
  • Jay is an innovative leader in many ways- he is designing and building an innovative organization that is meeting the needs of today and of the future.  Phrases like this are used often with little meat behind them; in his case the numbers tell the story.  This organization represents 72,000 in 170 countries.  They are truly serving a global population and governed by global governing councils.
  • They own the Dewey Decimal System that classifies information using numbers – it is universal across the globe.
  • They have cataloged over 2.1 billion items (books, periodicals, music scores, sound recordings, computer files and other documents) with 57.5% being in languages other than English.
  • They are innovating by leveraging their technology and also what they deliver and how they deliver it to stay relevant in a very dynamic business.  For them the adage, innovate or die is a mandate.   On the right is the image of an ap they provide that helps find parking spaces on the OSU campus real time.

After listening to his presentation about the rate of growth and his commitment to serve future generations by making this massive body of knowledge available and accessible, I wondered what set him apart from other leaders and what lessons we could learn from him.  Here are a few of the ideas he shared:

  • Understand what the future will require of us and build our technology and services to intersect that future.
  • He talked a great deal about engaging younger folks (digital natives) – bringing kids to work.  Asking questions of young people in high school who see the world differently (young people have always had an internet like many of us have had television)
  • Get out of your comfort zone – remain curious
  • Hang out with crazy people – those who want to change the world and leave a legacy.  Even if they miss the mark, they are still making an impact
  • We live our values
  • Failure is expected if you are learning and growing – keep experimenting
  • Collaboration is critical with other organizations and around the world
  • Hire diverse people with different strengths to ensure a well-rounded team
  • Measurement is important but so is realizing that there are important things that cannot be measured – stay open and aware of the value and the limitations to measurement

OCLC is a non-profit corporation.  One phrase he started with and ended with was you cannot “do good” unless you “do well”.  I took this to mean that you cannot meet your mission and help the world if you are not well run and financially sustainable.

OCLC is doing good and is doing well.  Because of their work, many generations in the future will have access to the treasures we have created during our lifetimes.  Additionally, he is leaving a legacy of an organization that is visionary – setting the bar high for leveraging technology and remaining relevant in a very dynamic world.

After reading what Jay is doing at OCLC, is there any quality he demonstrates that you might consider integrating into your own leadership approach?  What is your legacy as a leader?

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

Positive Action Resulting Bin Laden Death?

So, all I have heard on the news today is that Osama Bin Laden was killed. I am struck by a question – what can we DO in our own ordinary lives to move forward in a meaningful way? I understand all of the celebrations and respect the desire to celebrate and yet it seems like we are called to do more. I left my last job on 9/11 and started a business and consequently in some ways a new life. We, the US, declared 2 wars and many people lost their lives during the past 10 years. We lived with the concern of TERROR and the war on terror for 10 year. So my question is, at this moment in time, what can we reclaim what we lost as a society in fear?  How do we really honor the men and women who gave their lives or years of their lives to make this moment possible?

A few thoughts:

  • Find was to honor differences among others in our immediate lives with respect and dignity – maybe even compassion
  • Pay tribute to our military members and the national guard who are tirelessly giving of their lives to protect our lives and way of life
  • Find ways to extend understanding and compassion to people we care about when they are challenging

My underlying premise is peace starts at home.  It starts with extending kindness to those in our immediate lives when they are tough to live with.  It is hard to imagine world peace if we can not get along in our families, neighborhoods, or workplaces.  How do we cultivate the qualities that allow us to make peace with those we chose to spend time with?  Our friends?  Our spouses?  If we can not do this, we have little hope of broader peace.

My commitment is to build a stronger relationship with my immediate family.  I am blessed to have parents who are still living and a brother and his family.  I will see my brother and niece at the end of the month.  I commit to continue to build on our relationship (this is the easy one) and rebuild with others that are not as easy.  Who do you want to reconcile with?  Is there an area in your life where you can exercise compassion?

Also, a strong message of appreciation for our armed forces and civil servants who work tirelessly to keep us physically safe and protect our way of life and our principles.  As we watch democracy spreading through the world – I can not help but think it is because of the years of sacrifice of so many dedicated men and women – some of whom died in service of this very day.  I have no way to repay the benefit I gain from your service and I am forever grateful!

Gratitude Improves Performance and Resilience

Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday to remind us that a gratitude practice can be very powerful tool for improving health and well being as well as mental clarity.  This practice is so beneficial it is part of my daily practice, just like healthy eating.  It is an important part of building resilience.

Advanced research at theInstitute of HeartMath and elsewhere has provided evidence that gratitude is not simply a nice sentiment or feeling. Sustained feelings of gratitude have real benefits, including the following:

  • Biochemical changes – Favorable changes in the body’s biochemistry include improved hormonal balance and an increase in production of DHEA, the “anti-aging hormone.”
  • Increased positivity – Daily gratitude exercises can bring about a greater level of positive feelings, according to researchers from the University of Miami and the University of California, Davis who studied this process in 157 individuals over 13 days.
  • Boost to the immune system– The IgA antibody, which serves as the first line of defense against pathogens, increases in the body.
  • Emotional “compound interest” – The accumulated effect of sustained appreciation and gratitude is that these feelings, and coherence, are easier to recreate with continued practice. This is because experiencing an emotion reinforces the neural pathways of that particular emotion as it excites the brain, heart and nervous system. The downside is that you also can reinforce negative emotions.

TheInstitute of HeartMath is helping more people experience the benefits of the sincere feelings Thanksgiving celebrates by providing the following helpful appreciation exercise:

  • Instructions: Take a few short appreciation breaks during the day. During each break take one or two minutes to breathe deeply through the area of the heart. While doing so, try to hold a sincere feeling of appreciation in your heart area. This can be appreciation for a family member, friend who helped you with something or even a wonderful vacation, etc.
  • Why it works: The exercise of activating a positive feeling like appreciation literally shifts our physiology, helping to balance our heart rhythms and nervous system, and creates more coherence between the heart, brain and rest of the body.

The Heartmath Institute provides tools to measure the physiological impact of gratitude on your body.  I have used the emWave Personal Stress Reliever tool for two years now and have found it to be very helpful in monitoring my heart and stress level.

Gratitude is a simple and effective practice and the benefits are real and attainable.  It creates a healthier, happier and more fulfilling state of being for anyone who takes a few moments to feel and reflect on it. 

Photo credit:  libookperson

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

Qualities of Successful Leaders – World Business Forum Synopsis

I was invited to participate in the World Business Forum 2010 as a guest blogger.  The World Business Forum responds to what is happening in the world now in these critical areas. Whether it’s the global financial markets, social media, heanth care or the future of globalization, they provide the very latest thinking directly from those who are setting the agenda. According to Burson Marsteller, World Business Forum is ranked #1 in the US within Best Global Forums.

I wrote about several of the presentations from key executives and thought leaders.   I wanted to summarize what I heard about the field of leadership based on their comments along with my work in the field of senior leader development.

As our world becomes increasingly interconnected and the pace continues to accelerate, leaders must change what they think and do to meet these increased demands.  In recent years, we are often left reeling from scandals in all areas of society.  Truly great leaders quietly identify their core values and consistently act in a manner that is aligned with those values.  To  make this type of action possible, leaders must not only understand their personal values, they must also make a personal commitment to follow them at any cost.  Additionally, they make time to stop and reflect on where they are meeting these standards and where they can improve.

Internal Thought Process Observable Leadership Behavior
Understand what they stand for – core values and beliefs Take action based on their core values
Believe that performance is improved based on internal examination as well as external measures Make time to reflect on how their actions met their personal and professional standards and goals
Feel passion and clear personal vision and believe it will drive successful action Lead by setting vision and inspiring rather than command and control
Committed to learning and growing personally and organizationally (humility) – realizing they do not have all the answers Demonstrate curiosity – actively gather information and use it to refine direction to improve effectiveness
Recognize the organization is more successful when the smartest people come together in a supportive environment Hire the most talented people
Committed to putting greater good ahead of self Focus actions on accomplishing the strategic goals rather than on personal gain

Businesses and non-profits need great leaders now more than any other time in history.  By having a clear view of what is required to be a successful leader, we can improve ourselves and also identify who we want to work for and with.

Photo credit: Krupp

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

James Cameron at World Business Forum 2010 – The power of Innovation, Creativity and Passion

James Cameron is a renowned film writer, producer and director whose films have blazed new trails in visual effects and set numerous performance records both domestically and abroad.  He shared his experience of creating the block buster movie Avatar at World Business Forum 2010.

His story illustrates many of the points that speakers over the past 2 days have made.  Leaders in their fields across multiple industries tell a very similar story.  To name just a couple of the common threads, AG Lafley from P&G talked about the importance of curiosity, openness and collaborating and  Jack Welsh talked about fielding the best talent and how fear was an ineffective management tool.   Following are 5 points from James Cameron’s presentation.

1. Be curious and open to learning.  “Curiosity is the most important thing we have – we pursue avenues for things we do not know what the pay off will be.”  I will thrust myself into any situation where I think I can learn.

2.  Collaboration is a dynamic process.  Each group has a role in making the movie come to life, the designers, the actors, the writers and the editors.  The film takes on a new life in each stage of the process with the expansion of the team.

3. People empower you to lead. Leadership can be learned.  Dictatorial style is not as good as an encouraging style.  Be firm and in charge but not authoritarian.  Leadership skills that were not innate could be learned.  To be a good leader you get the best out of people by respecting them.  You have to be analytical and critical of yourself as a leader, and always be open to learning.

4. Your personal passion gets you a long way.  Passion is a strong motivator for others, they can see your vision and feel that you will accomplish it.

5.  Timing is critical in innovation.  Innovation is like riding a wave,  don’t create the wave, harness the energy it’s building.  Commit to what you are trying to create.  Too much study causes opportunities to pass you by and premature launch can also lead to failure.

So as we look at Avatar and the new and innovative techniques used to create this movie and the passion that allowed the team to stay together and make it happen, we may wonder how to translate this message to our personal and professional lives.  I propose a few questions that I will be thinking about as take aways.  What am I passionate about in my work and in my community?  What am I curious about?  How can I combine curiosity and passion to spark innovation in my work?

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

Carlos Brito from World Business Forum 2010 The Power of “Dream, People, Culture”

Carlos Brito talked to the World Business Forum about – Building a Performance Culture.   Better than you: How to Building a Cohesive Team of High Achievers.  Carlos is the CEO of Anheuser-Busch InBev. During 5 mergers and acquisitions we continually asked: why is it that our performance is better than these other companies.  We found the “Dream People culture”.  This is not about theory – it is about practicing what we believe in.

1.  Dream – have a big dream, stretch and be credible.  Define big by we know 70-80% of how to get there.   Inspire, align and drive commitment.  Set the bar higher.  Anchor everything in the dream.

2.  People make companies great.

  • Great companies are formed by great people.
  • Great companies hire the best people,
  • Great people attract more of the same.  Poor performers attract more of the same.
  • Great people with the right training and opportunities get better and so do we when we work with them.
  • Great people like meritocracy – they want feedback so they can continue to improve.
  • As a leader you must be the coach – spend time with the people – this is everyone’s job!

3.  Culture of Ownership – owners make better decisions because it is their company and they are committed for the long term.   Need to worry about both short term and long term.  Long term thinkers do not take short cuts – it takes time and patience to succeed.

As the CEO, I talk about every time I meet with people.  This is what we are all about.  It is what brought us here to be at the top of our industry.  It is my job to make sure everyone knows this.

Brito’s discussion is consistent with those of Collins and Welsh.  While he talks about his experience through his own lens there are several commonalities:

  • Leaders build the organization by setting a vision
  • They invest in people through hiring, development and processes that give feedback to encourage employees to improve.   They put the right people in the right jobs.
  • They have processes to face brutal facts in their performance (using meritocracy – evaluating people and recognizing the best).
  • The use discipline and rigor in their daily business created by a culture of ownership.

As I listen to these speakers talk about their research and their experiences, I hear similar themes.  As our world changes, leadership is critical to business success and while we may use different words and models, there are very strong common themes coming from research and from experience.  What are you doing as a leader to evaluate personal and organizational leadership to ensure your success?

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

Jack Welch at World Business Forum 2010 – CEO Number 1 Job is Leadership

Jack Welsh, World Business Forum 2010Jack Welch former CEO of GE and top selling author of Winning spoke at the World Business Forum 2010 hitting the topic of Management Fundamentals and success.  Key points of his message were very close to the themes from Jim Collins, author of Good to Great.  Collins is primarily a researcher and Welch is primarily a CEO.  They both focus heavily on the importance of leadership, growing your people, creating a vision, establishing clear process and accountability to move the business forward consistently.

1.  My main job as CEO is fielding the best talent.   Most managers are not getting this!  There is no where enough attention to leadership development.  What keeps people from doing this?  Insecurity.   Boards not paying enough attention and allowing this to continue.

2.  Rank and build talent.   We are not spending enough time focused on those doing a great job because we are focused on improving the bottom 10%.  We need to celebrate the winners and helping others understand how to be top performers.  Those who are not winners here will likely become winners when they find where they best fit.  Teams perform better when we build on the talent and cut those not meeting the performance standards.

3.  You Must add value beyond what is there. When asked a question from the audience about a new product – his response was clear – we must all be focusing on adding value.  Do not invest resources unless there is a real need.

4.  Technology creates opportunities to gain efficiencies and improve customer intimacy. His reference to technology is as an enabler to make large businesses more effective and efficient and thus more competitive.  With growing competition we need to leverage technology.  For most companies it is not our business, it improves our business and must be seen through that lens.

5.  Fear is dead as a management tool.  You better have a vision and be able to communicate what is in it for others if you want them to follow you.  Transparency – everyone knows everything now.  As a Leader, you better have real logic behind the decisions rather than just your title.

6.  I see a different world going forward.  People have changed habits.  People are doing more with less.  As an economy, we are moving to a 2-3% growth rate.  People are buying fewer services, using less labor, and using fewer materials.  Technology is on exponential growth path changing how work is done.  The combination of these 2 factors:  lower demand and more technology mandates we change how we do business.   It calls for real innovation to improve efficiency.

By putting the right leaders in place and maintaining consistent focus on their continued growth – even when they are the best in class – you will WIN as a business and we will win as a country.

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

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