From time to time, I will let you know about an item of possible interest.
Here is the first paragraph of an article featured online by McKinsey & Company, Leadership lessons for hard times:
“During the global recession, much attention has been devoted to mistakes that sparked the financial and economic crisis, in hopes of not repeating them. Less has been given to what’s been done well amid the turmoil—to learn, for example, how best to lead a company through these tough times. To contribute to that understanding, we interviewed the leaders of 14 major companies (see sidebar, “Who’s who”), all seasoned CEOs or chairmen, asking them to reflect on what they felt they have learned so far. We were keen not to limit their comments to the current recession and therefore also asked them to consider previous challenges they had faced in a turnaround or a crisis. The companies they lead are in different industries, face different challenges, and have performed quite differently. We are attempting neither to judge their performance nor to draw up a set of rules on how to lead through tough times. Instead, what emerges from the interviews is agreement on some broad principles that can help guide behavior in the executive suite and the boardroom, as well as interactions with employees, customers, and investors.”
Here’s a link to the article (which you can download as a pdf) as well as to a wealth of other resources:
Cheryl offers: I’d like to say I am encouraged or even amused by the recent hoopla over the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. Unfortunately, the hoopla seems more focused on finding ways to prevent a woman from obtaining this seat than what I believe is the real topic for the Supreme Court. Over half of our nation’s population is women. In the past year, the number of working women has surpassed men in the workplace. Almost 60% of all graduating law students are women. What’s wrong with this picture? Why are we so proud we are thinking about putting a woman on the Supreme Court? And if the media and their allies can find a way to prevent it, they will. Why aren’t we asking ourselves where are the rest of the women who should be seated next to her? Canada gets it. Women serve in four of the nine Supreme Court justice positions. Our situation isn’t amusing or encouraging to me; it’s downright devastating. And by the way, this embarrassment includes the limited presence of minorities on that lofty bench (with acknowledgement to Justice Thomas.) It reminds me of Marshall Goldsmith’s book, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There. What got us here, our current economic and political situation, is NOT where energy needs to be invested. Our future is far too vulnerable and important to risk to time bound ideas of the past.
Sara adds: This whole political circus around Sotomayor points out (for me) the need for recognizing our biases. First, let me offer the definition of “bias” I am using – “Bias: noun; an inclination of outlook.” We spend our entire lives perfecting our biases. Even well-intentioned people are guided by lifetimes of biases. Blind bias is the culprit here – the kind of bias that shows up when a middle aged white woman thinks she can respond in a gender and ethnic neutral way. It can’t be done. Ever been cut off in traffic and look to see who did it to you? Was it a redneck or a thug or a well dressed executive in a fancy car? And once you spotted them, was it comforting to be able to think, “That’s just like their kind!” Dr. Sondra Theiderman nails it in Making Diversity Work, “No one is blameless when it comes to bias. Sure, some biases are launched by the most powerful and hit their target with greater force. But ultimately, bias is bias.” We have two ways to blunt the impact of bias. The first is to become mindful of our biases and manage them. The second way – and this is what needs to happen in the United States Supreme Court – is to be inclusive. Make sure people of variety have a seat at the table. It seems so simple. Simple should never be confused with easy.
One of the major reasons for Jack Welch’s success as CEO of GE was his total commitment to achieving for GE the same competitive advantages that “small, sleek companies” have. During one of GE’s annual meetings, he identified several. “For one, they communicate better. Without the din and prattle of bureaucracy, people listen as well as talk; and since there are fewer of them they generally know and understand each other. Second, small companies move faster. They know the penalties for hesitation in the marketplace. Third, in small companies, with fewer layers and less camouflage, the leaders show up very clearly on the screen. Their performance and its impact are clear to everyone. And, finally, smaller companies waste less. Theyspend less time in endless reviews and approvals and politics and paper drills. They have fewer people; therefore they can only do the important things. Their people are free to direct their energy and attention toward the marketplace rather than fighting bureaucracy.”
Welch thus specifies his vision for GE and the strategies needed to fulfill it by emphasizing core values and beliefs that include these
1. Embrace change, don’t fear it.
2. Stop “managing,” start leading.
3. Cultivate those who share your vision.
4. Face reality, then act decisively.
5. Be simple, be consistent, and hammer your message home.
6. Be number 1 or number 2, but don’t narrow your market.
7. Look for the quantum leap!
8. Fix, close, or sell whatever isn’t (or can’t be) first-rate.
9. Always assume that out there, somewhere, someone has a better idea.
10. Every layer is a bad layer.
12. Be lean and agile.
13. Tear down all boundaries.
14. Three secrets: speed, simplicity, and self-confidence.
15. Eliminate the “boss element.”
16. Create an atmosphere in which workers feel not only free but obligated to speak out.
17. If you cannot rely on an employee’s integrity, get rid of that employee NOW.
18. Energetic people create energetic companies…the opposite is also true
19. The past? Never heard of it!
20. GE may have a big-company body but must have a small-company soul.
What do you think? Please share.