Flight director Keith Comeaux, right, celebrates with Martin Greco after a successful landing of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover at Jet Propulsion Laboratory on August 5, 2012 in Pasadena, California.
Here is a brief excerpt from an article written by Les McKeown for Inc. magazine. To read the complete article, please click here.
Photo: Pool/Getty Images
* * *
It’s been quite a year for leadership lessons. Let’s check out what events should shape your leadership goals for 2013. Any one of a multitude of events in 2012 (Hurricane Sandy, The London Olympics, Benghazi and its fallout) would provide a case study in how to lead–and sometimes, sadly, how not to.
Here [is the first of] my personal top five leadership lessons from 2012:
1. Institutionalize your Vision (with a capital V).
It’s over a year since he died, but Steve Jobs was still handing out leadership lessons in 2012.
The question everyone began asking almost immediately his sad, early death was announced was: “Will Apple survive the loss of its Visionary founder?”
This year showed that, while the jury is still out as to whether it will be exactly the same company or not, Apple isn’t going to disappear any time soon–far from it.
Unlike CEOs at companies such as Starbucks, Gateway, and Dell, Steve Jobs clearly succeeded in institutionalizing his vision by driving it deep into the very warp and woof of the company and instilling it into Apple’s management DNA.
Howard Schultz, for example, hasn’t yet achieved this at Starbucks. He’s still the personification of “his” company’s vision.
Are you the personification of your company’s vision? If you left, would it leave too? Or have you hired, mentored and coached your vision into the company, so that it would stand without you?
* * *
To read the complete article, please click here.
Les McKeown is the author of the bestseller Predictable Success: Getting Your Organization on the Growth Track–and Keeping It There and is the CEO of Predictable Success, a leading advisor on accelerated organizational growth. His latest book is The Synergist: How to Lead Your Team to Predictable Success.
Here is an excerpt from an article written by Peter Sims for Harvard Business Review and the HBR Blog Network. To read the complete article, check out the wealth of free resources, and sign up for a subscription to HBR email alerts, please click here.
* * *
It’s a great disservice to everyone, especially young people, that the stories that we often hear about the most accomplished entrepreneurs sound so effortless. The truth is just the opposite, even for visionary creative success stories like those of Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey, Howard Schultz, Wendy Kopp, and even the legendary Steve Jobs. Like any creative process, any entrepreneur who wants to invent, innovate, or create must be willing to be imperfect and make mistakes in order to learn what works and what does not.
It took Dorsey years of experimentation before he finally latched onto what ultimately became Twitter. Wendy Kopp started Teach for America, initially as a conference, on a shoestring budget after graduating from college. And Howard Schultz, while he had great foresight to recognize that Americans needed a communal coffee experience like those that existed in Europe, failed on his first try. As I wrote in Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries, when his first store opened in Seattle in 1986, there was non-stop opera music, menus in Italian, and no chairs. As Schultz acknowledges, he and his colleagues had to make “a lot of mistakes” to discover what would become the Starbucks we know today.
Despite what we may have read, Steve Jobs was no different. Here are five of Jobs’s greatest mistakes, all of which history shows he ultimately learned from:
1. Recruiting John Sculley as CEO of Apple. Feeling that he needed an experienced operating and marketing partner, the then 29-year-old Jobs lured Sculley to Apple with the now legendary pitch: “Do you want to sell sugared water for the rest of your life? Or do you want to come with me and change the world?” Sculley took the bait and within two years, Sculley had organized a board campaign to fire Jobs. Jobs himself would surely consider hiring Sculley as a great mistake.
2. Believing that Pixar would be a great hardware company. When Jobs was the last and only buyer standing in 1986 when George Lucas had to sell off the Pixar graphics arm of LucasFilms (for $10 million), he never expected the company to ever make money on animated films. Instead, as Pixar historian David Price shows in his excellent book The Pixar Touch, Jobs believed that Pixar was going to be the next great hardware company. Not even a visionary like Steve Jobs could predict what unfolded at Pixar, yet to his great credit, he supported cofounders Ed Catmull and John Lasseter as they pursued their dream of producing a full-length digitally animated film from day one. He protected their ability to make small bets on short films in order to learn how to eventually make a full-length feature film in Toy Story.
* * *
To read the complete article, please click here.
Peter Sims is a management writer and entrepreneur. He is the author of aforementioned Little Bets and co-author, with Bill George, of True North: Discover Your Authentic Leadership. He is also the founder of the BLKSHP. To check out his other articles, please click here.
Tom Butler-Bowdon has only recently received in the United States the attention and appreciation that he so richly deserves. Years ago, he formulated his “50 Classics” concept, based on the idea that “every subject or genre will contain at least 50 books that encapsulate its knowledge and wisdom. By creating a list of those landmark or representative titles, then providing commentaries that note the key points and assess the importance of each work, awareness of these key writings is spread to readers who may not otherwise have known of their existence.” 50 Self-Help Classics was initially released only in Australia in 2001, then in the UK, US and rest of the world in 2003 by Nicholas Brealey Publishing. 50 Self-Help Classics has been translated into 15 languages. In 2004 it won the US Benjamin Franklin Award, and was a finalist in Foreword Magazine‘s Book of the Year awards. “My second book, 50 Success Classics (2004), covers the landmark works of motivation, prosperity and leadership. Rights have been sold in 13 languages. The third, 50 Spiritual Classics (2005) explores some of the famous writings and authors in personal awakening, and has been translated into 10 languages.” 50 Psychology Classics was released in 2007 and has been translated into 12 languages. All works are available in audio format from Audible.com (see links on homepage), including the most recent titles in the series, 50 Prosperity Classics. His latest book, Never Too Late to Be Great: The Power of Thinking Long, was published by Virgin Books (2012).
In the Introduction to Never Too Late to Be Great, Tom quotes Anthony Robbins: “People overestimate what they can achieve in a year, but underestimate what they can achieve in a decade.” The balance of the book is devoted to explaining how and why it is imperative to reject these miscalculations. Here are a few of the quotations that caught my eye:
Warren Buffett: “No matter how great the talent or effort, some things just take time: you can’t produce a baby in one month by getting nine women pregnant.”
Jeff Immelt: “The most successful parts of GE are places where leaders have stayed in place a long time…The places where we’ve churned people, like reinsurance, are where you’ll find we failed.”
Tony Mendoza: “I turned full-time to photography at age 33. It takes ten years to get really good at anything, including photography, and so I have ‘til I’m 43 before I need to start worrying.”
Ray Kroc: “People have marveled at the fact that I didn’t start McDonald’s until I was 52 years old, and then I became a success overnight…I was an overnight success all right, but 30 years is a long, long night.”
Howard Schultz: “Life is a series of near misses. But a lot of what we ascribe to luck is not luck at all. It’s seizing the day and accepting responsibility for your future. It’s seeing what other people don’t see, and pursuing that vision, no matter who tells you not to.”
Jim Collins: “No matter how dramatic the end result, the good-to-great transformations never happened in one fell swoop. There was no single defining action, no grand program, no one killer innovation, no solitary lucky break, no miracle moment. Rather, the process resembled relentlessly pushing a giant heavy flywheel in one direction, turn upon turn, building momentum until a point of breakthrough, and beyond.”
* * *
As Tom explains, “In the early 1990s, I was working as an adviser at the New South Wales Cabinet Office in Sydney, writing briefing papers for senior ministers. I took a year off to do further study in the UK, but put aside my political economy textbooks to read a growing pile of motivational and self-help literature. On returning to Australia, I spent some time in the Outback, where the idea came to me of writing about the classic books in the self-help literature. Based in Oxford, UK, I now write full-time, run Butler-Bowdon.com, and do occasional speaking engagements.I have a BA (Hons) degree in Politics and History from the University of Sydney, and a Masters degree in International Political Economy from the London School of Economics.”
How to “take a hard line on the soft issues”
Many of those who get “fired up” about a new job, a new assignment, a new promotion, etc. eventually become “burned out” by it. What we have in this volume, written by Michael L. Stallard with Carolyn Dewing-Hommes and Jason Pankau, is a remarkably thoughtful and sensitive examination of the causes and effects of this familiar workplace situation. Stallard observes that, “Although people generally enter their organizations fired up, over time most work environments reduce that inner fire from a flame to a flicker.” Why? They lack “connection” with others, especially with their supervisors and immediate associates. As a result, they have unmet needs; more specifically, to be respected, recognized, included and accepted.
In this context, I presume to share a complaint I hear constantly: Being held accountable to achieve results without receiving any explanation of the ultimate objectives, much less an explanation of the given assignment’s relevance to achieving those objectives. Worse yet, not being provided with sufficient resources. And even worse yet, having no “say” about how the given work will be done. Jean-Francois Manzoni and Jean-Louis Barsoux have much of value to say about all this in The Set-Up-to-Fail Syndrome: How Good Managers Cause Great People to Fail.
Stallard asserts that “the lack of connection will gradually burn [employees] out. Organizational environments where connection is low or absent diminish [employees'] physical and mental health. They create a low level of toxicity that drains [their] energy, poisons [their] attitudes, and impacts [their ability and willingness] to be productive.” It is difficult (if not impossible) to calculate the total cost of such a situation, including its impact on customer relationships and retention of valued employees. The potential damage and (yes) cost of a group’s disconnection must be at least the number of people in a given group compounded by a factor of 3-5, if not greater.
Over the years, various questionnaires and surveys have been conducted among many millions of people, asking respondents to rank what is most important to them in a relationship with an organization either as an employee or as a customer. With very few exceptions, “feeling appreciated” was ranked among the top three…with compensation or cost ranked anywhere from 9-14, depending on the given feedback mechanism. Stallard cites one Gallup Organization study that suggests that only 25% of employees are engaged in their jobs, 55% of are just going through the motions, and that 20% of them are undermining efforts to achieve their employers’ objectives. He also cites a study of 50,000 employees at 59 global companies conducted by the Corporate Executive Board. One of its most significant revelations is that “emotional factors were four times more effective in increasing employee engagement rather than rational ones.” I presume to suggest that it is no coincidence that many of the companies listed on Fortune magazine annual list of those “most admired” are also on its annual list of those most profitable and many of them are #1 in their respective industry.
In collaboration with Dewing-Hommes and Pankau, Stallard carefully organizes the material within four Parts: “What Fires Us Up?”; “The Three Keys to Connecting Your Team and Lighting Their Fires: Vision, Value, and Voice”; “The Fire Starts with You: become a Person of Character and Connection to Ignite the Team Around You”; and finally, “Learn from Twenty Great Leaders Over Twenty Days.” Appendix A provides “Questions to Assess Organizational Culture and Connection.”
Stallard and his collaborators focus almost all of their attention on “how” when addressing challenges such as these:
1. How an individual, a group, and (eventually) an entire organization can establish and then sustain emotional connections others
2. How a clear and compelling vision can “ignite” commitment throughout the given enterprise
3. How shared values can nourish human development
4. How giving “voice” to an individual, group, and organization can expedite knowledge flow
5. How to become “a person of character and connection who ignites the team around you”
Of special interest to me is the material provided in Part IV. (That said, I must emphasize the obvious: The value of this material can be maximized only if the material that precedes it has been carefully absorbed and digested.) Stallard and his collaborators offer a self-improvement program that the reader completes with several “collaborators”: Stallard, Dewing-Hommes, and Pankau as well as “20 great leaders from various fields who fired up people by increasing connection.” These leaders do indeed comprise a diverse group. They include the Marquis de Lafayette, Ann Mulcahy, Ed Mitchell, Harriett Beecher Stowe, Howard Schultz, Frances Hesselbein, Fred Epstein, and Bill Belichick. (If at least a few of these names are unfamiliar to you, you will welcome the introductions to them in Part IV.) Over a period of 20 days (one leader per day), the reader is asked to consider what can be learned from each about firing up people by increasing connection (i.e. mutually-beneficial relationships) with others. At the conclusion of each profile, there is a follow-through section that will facilitate effective application of the given lesson(s).
My congratulations to Michael Lee Stallard, Carolyn Dewing-Hommes and Jason Pankau for producing such a thoughtful, sensitive, and eloquent as well as practical book.
When concluding this brief commentary, however, I do feel obligated to make one final point of my own: At one time or another, to one extent or another, everyone gets “fired up” only to experience “flame out,” if not suffer severe” burns” from the experience. That is true of Stallard, Dewing-Hommes, and Pankau and it is also true of every one of the 20 “great leaders” whom they discuss. What then? Long ago, Jack Dempsey said that champions “get up when they can’t.” In the business world as well as in competitive sports, that is as true of groups and even entire organizations as it is of individuals.
Note: Since this book was published in 2007, several other excellent books have addressed several of the same issues and I highly recommend three of them, also.
The Why of Work: How Great Leaders Build Abundant Organizations That Win
Dave and Wendy Ulrich
Be Excellent at Anything: The Four Keys To Transforming the Way We Work and Live
Tony Schwartz with Jean Gomes and Catherine McCarthy
The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work
Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer
How and why disruptive innovators maximize creative impact
As is true of others who have written business books that also offer breakthrough insights, the authors of this one set out to answer an especially important question: “Where do disruptive business models come from?” What Jeff Dyer, Hal Gregersen, and Clayton Christensen concluded is shared in this book. It’s too early to be certain, of course, but I think this book is destined to become a “business classic,” as have so many of the other books that Christensen has authored or co-authored. It is worth noting that The Innovator’s DNA emerged from an eight-year collaborative study, suggesting that its information, insights, and counsel are research-driven, anchored in the real world.
Some of the most valuable material was generated by interviews of dozens of “inventors of revolutionary products and services as well as founders and CEOs of game-changing companies build on innovative ideas.” They also include what they learned from Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, and Howard Schultz (whom they did not interview) whose innovative thinking has transformed entire industries. “We wanted to understand as much about these people as possible, including the moment (when and how) they came up with the creative ideas that launched new products or businesses.”
The title of this book refers to an aggregate of five primary discovery skills that enable various innovative entrepreneurs and executives to generate breakthrough ideas. “A critical insight from our research is that one’s ability to generate innovative ideas is not merely the function of the mind, but also a function of behaviors. This is good news for us all because it means that if we change our behaviors, we can change our creative impact.”
It should also be noting that an abundance of entrepreneurial research throughout the past 17-20 years reveals that, in terms of personality traits or psychometric measures, entrepreneurs do not differ significantly from typical (even traditional) business executives. My take is that almost anyone in almost any workplace can develop the five discovery skills. The extent and velocity of that development will largely depend on leadership. “The bottom line: If you want innovation [enterprise wide], you need creativity skills within the top management team of your company.”
The co-authors include a disclaimer (sort of): “First, engaging in the discovery skills doesn’t ensure financial success…Second, failure (in a financial sense) often results from not being vigilant in engaging all the discovery skills…Third, we spotlight different innovators and innovative companies to illustrate key ideas or principles, but not [repeat NOT] to set them up as perfect examples of how to be innovative.”
The five Discovery Skills are hardly head-snappers: Associating with stimuli (mind, heart, and five senses); Questioning anything and everything, especially one’s assumptions and premises; Observing with intent and intensity, noting what many others miss; Networking by connecting people as well as dots while accessing new (i.e. unfamiliar) resources; and Experimenting (e.g. test the untested, disassemble and deconstruct, prototype, add new knowledge). In the most innovative organizations or portions thereof, all five are institutionalized in terms of incentives and rewards, division of labor, allocating resources, transparency, cross-functional collaboration, recognition/celebration, and (yes) protection for prudent but bold risk-takers.
Not everyone is willing and/or able to thrive in such a culture. Disruption is by nature messy, unpredictable, confusing, upsetting, and often threatening. When Joseph Schumpeter introduced the process of “creative destruction,” his ultimate objective was, in fact, creative creation. Just as Albert Einstein urges us to make everything as simple as possible but no simpler, Schumpeter urges us to destroy everything except what is essential…and then build on that. The authors of this book urge us to strengthen the five skills through individual and team initiatives that are guided and informed by a business model that, if it is designed properly, will be continuously self-disruptive.
Here is the list of Hardcover Business Best Sellers from the New York Times for June, 2011.
Except for finance Books, and a few others, we present most of these business best sellers at the First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas. (Our next session is on July 8 – the 2nd Friday of July, because of the holiday weekend). My colleague Karl Krayer will present Onward, # 2 on this list, by Howard Schultz.
There are some new books on the list. I will present the #1 book, Knowing Your Value by Mika Brzezinski at the September First Friday Book Synopsis. I have been reading about this book for a few weeks, appreciate her work on Morning Joe, and had already planned to present this in September.
The Corner Office sounds like a terrific book. I have read many of Adam Bryant’s columns (from which this book grew — thanks to our blogging colleague, Bob Morris, for keeping us up to date on many of these columns). But it looks like a difficult book to present in synopsis form because of its format, so we may not choose this one.
Here’s the June list:
|KNOWING YOUR VALUE, by Mika Brzezinski. (Weinstein, $22.95.) Exploring what women can do to get the compensation they have earned. (†)|
|ONWARD, by Howard Schultz with Joanne Gordon. (Rodale, $25.99.) Schultz tells of his second stint as the C.E.O. of Starbucks and how he helped return the company to profitability.|
|THE WIZARD OF LIES, by Diana B. Henriques. (Times Books/Holt, $30.) A New York Times financial writer details the story of Bernard Madoff, from his rise on Wall Street to his conviction for creating a $65 billion Ponzi scheme.|
|PRESCRIPTION FOR EXCELLENCE, by Joseph A. Michelli. (McGraw-Hill, $28.) Lessons for the health care field from the U.C.L.A. Health System. (†)|
|GET RICH CLICK!, by Marc Ostrofsky. (Razor, $19.95.) An Internet entrepreneur’s strategies for earning money online. (†)|
|THE THANK YOU ECONOMY, by Gary Vaynerchuk. (Harper Business/HarperCollins, $24.99.) Tips on using social media tools to connect to customers. (†)|
|SWITCH, by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. (Broadway Business, $26.) How everyday people can effect transformative change at work and in life. (†)|
|KABOOM!, by Darell Hammond. (Rodale, $24.99.) Hammond describes how he created Kaboom, a nonprofit that provides communities with the resources to build playgrounds. (†)|
|THE TOTAL MONEY MAKEOVER, by Dave Ramsey (Thomas Nelson, $24.99.) Debt reduction and fiscal fitness for families, by the radio talk-show host. (†)|
|THE MONEY CLASS, by Suze Orman. (Spiegel & Grau, $26.) The noted personal financial adviser offers a reconsideration of the American dream. (†)|
|THE CORNER OFFICE, by Adam Bryant. (Times Books/Holt. $25.) How to build and maintain a successful organization from lessons learned from interviews of over seventy CEOs conducted by a New York Times business reporter. (†)|
|THE 4-HOUR WORKWEEK, by Timothy Ferriss. (Crown, $22.) Reconstructing your life so that it’s not all about work. (†)|
|NO FEAR OF FAILURE, by Gary Burnison. (Jossey-Bass/Wiley, $27.95.) Conversations with world-class leaders reveal tips on how to handle challenges. (†)|
|STRENGTHS BASED LEADERSHIP, by Tom Rath and Barry Conchie. (Gallup, $24.95.) Three keys to being a more effective leader. (†)|
|TOUCHPOINTS, by Douglas Conant and Mette Norgaard. (Jossey-Bass/Wiley, $26.95.) Creating leadership connections in the smallest moments. (†)|
“Starbucks’ touchstones, the source of our pride” Howard Schultz
In January 2008, chairman Howard Schultz resumed his roles as President and CEO of Starbucks eight years after he relinquished them, replacing Jim Donald, who took the posts in 2005 but was asked to step down. Schultz’s immediate objective was to restore what he characterizes as the “distinctive Starbucks experience” after years of rapid expansion that had compromised it. The bulk of this book’s material covers the period since then, although Schultz (in collaboration with Joanne Gordon) does include valuable perspectives on the events that preceded his joining Starbucks as director of retail operations in 1982 and his subsequent purchase of the company from its three co-founders in 1987.
Others have their own reasons for praising this book, Here two of mine. First, Schultz is a skillful raconteur and the dramatic narrative that he provides is compelling as he introduces various characters, develops a lively plot filled with crises as well as triumphs, and meanwhile examines several themes that invest the narrative with structure and direction. For example, how to accelerate but manage growth so that the company (however large it may become) retains its entrepreneurial spirit? As Starbucks expanded into new locations, states, and even countries, how to preserve the ambiance of an Italian café (i.e. coffeehouse) while take full advantage of modern technologies? This book is a great read because Schultz has a multitude of fascinating stories to share.
My other reason is that the book anchors in real-world situations, involving real people, a number of business principles that are relevant to all organizations, whatever their size and nature may be.
1. Don’t “fall in love” with loyal, devoted workers who no longer measure up. By all means employ them and find useful work for them to do (if at all possible) but keep in mind that business development (especially when growth is rapid) frequently creates new demands that some people cannot handle. Schultz acknowledges that he waited too long to respond to earnest and willing but clearly under-performing employees of whom he is obviously fond and for whom he feels genuine appreciation.
2. Do not confuse investments with costs. Schultz was (and remains) a passionate advocate of frugality but eagerly made (and makes) substantial investments in people (e.g. generous benefits for part-time workers) and equipment (e.g. purchasing only the very best beans, state-of-art onsite brewers). Compromising quality to save money is never a “bargain.” On the contrary, the total cost of a so-called “bargain” is often prohibitive.
3. No matter what, always preserve and nourish your core business. For Starbucks, its core is the multi-sensory experience that offers a “third place” renowned for its hospitality, ambiance, indeed its panache. Offer, serve, and sell only what enhances each patron’s experience. Also, hire only those who will be evangelists as well as facilitators of that experience. There is no reason why where they work can’t be as enjoyable for them as it is for those whom they are privileged to serve.
With regard to the title of the book, it refers a process, not a destination. Schultz stepped down when he thought the company could continue to improve, returned when he realized that it hadn’t and couldn’t without him, and since then he makes certain that the process continues into an otherwise uncertain future.
This is among the most entertaining as well as informative accounts by a CEO that I have read thus far, worthy of inclusion with those written by Alfred Sloan, Andrew Grove, Sam Walton, John Whitehead, Jack Welch, and more recently, Danny Meyer and Chip Conley.
Thank you, Howard Schultz, for the pleasure of your company!