First Friday Book Synopsis

"…like CliffNotes on steroids…"

Nine Do’s and Don’ts for Dealing with the Disgruntled

Rosabeth

Here is an excerpt from an article written by Rosabeth Moss Kanter for the Harvard Business Review blog. 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.

*     *     *

In a volatile world, anxiety and uncertainty make people a little testy.

Cranky people can drag everyone else down by spreading negativity and sowing seeds of doubt just when leaders need commitment. And when everyday crankiness is exacerbated by performance problems, then the merely grumpy can become disgruntled former employees out to do damage to the team.

Early in my career, when sharing a vacation house with a group of friends, I learned an important lesson from a classic book by anthropologist Mary Douglas, Purity and Danger: It takes a lot of people cooperating to keep things neat, but it takes only one disgruntled dirt-monger to mess things up. The task for everyone else is not to let them.

This has become a favorite management insight as I advise bosses and boards. In one recent case, the chief financial officer of a small company was fired for possible expense account violations, and he was also seen as a poor strategist and weak team player. The former CFO did not go quietly. He consulted a lawyer, then went to a second and a third when the first one said he didn’t have a case. He rallied friends who sent emails to prominent customers about his grievance. Meanwhile, the CEO and new CFO had to raise capital and revenues to make up for the shortfall, which the disgruntled former CFO blamed on everyone else. His loud voice and tale of mistreatment threatened to topple the entire enterprise.

When faced with cranky, grumpy, or disgruntled people, these Do’s and Don’ts can be helpful.

[Here are five of the nine. To read the complete article, please click here.]

1. Don’t give them power. Don’t let their claims occupy disproportionate time and management attention. Have one person manage so that everyone else can continue the real work.

2. Do keep telling your positive story about the organization’s purpose, mission, goals, and accomplishments. Remind everyone about the big picture.

3. Don’t adopt an angry tone. Stay calm and professional. Don’t stoop to their level by telling juicy stories. Recent studies show that badmouthing makes the tale-teller look bad, in a boomerang effect.

4. Don’t tell their story for them. Don’t start meetings or conversations by rehashing the situation. Stick to a simple statement or two that acknowledges your sorrow that there are complaints. Don’t sound defensive. Don’t lend credibility by providing your answers to things that audiences might not know or care about.

5. Don’t assume that being right is enough. Having the facts on your side might be enough in a court of law, but it is not necessarily enough in the court of public opinion. Other people are convinced by your actions. They need to see that you operate by principles. They will judge your authenticity and consistency.

*     *     *

Above all, do what’s right for the mission and stakeholders. Even in a volatile world that requires tough decisions, the best way to counter crankiness is through an inspiring, energizing purpose.

[Note: I cannot resist citing again what Herb Kelleher, former chairman and CEO of Southwest Airlines, said when explaining the airline’s spectacular success: "We take great care of our people, our people take great care of our customers, and our customers take great care of our shareholders."]

*     *     *

Rosabeth Moss Kanter is a professor at Harvard Business School and the author of Confidence and SuperCorp. Connect with her on Facebook or at Twitter.com/RosabethKanter.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Five Tips for Coping with Uncertainty — and Finding Opportunity

Rosabeth Moss Kanter

Here is an excerpt from an article written by Rosabeth Moss Kanter for the Harvard Business Review blog. 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.

*     *     *

Clouds of uncertainty hover over the Western world. The consequences are stalling action. Companies are sitting on piles of cash, several CEOs have told me, as they wait for a resolution to the U.S. debt crisis before deciding what and where to invest or whether to hire. Job creation is slow and unemployment high, leaving millions uncertain about their futures. Europeans wait for a resolution to financial woes from the south affecting the north, and in a safe, sane Nordic country, Norway, fear rises from a seemingly insane terrorist shooting that cost nearly a hundred lives. Safe harbors have uncertainty, too.Companies can make strategic choices once they know what conditions will apply — will laws change, will taxes be raised or lowered, will interest rates go up or down? You could be a CEO weighing factory location decisions in the U.S. or abroad, or a retail entrepreneur deciding where and when to open more stores. Waiting for decisions that provide a direction, any direction, can be paralyzing. Motivating people to try something new, or to get on with innovation, is tough when the rules of the game are up in the air. Uncertainty is one of the primary reasons that people resist change. People are relatively adaptable once they know what the situation is, like it or not.

Perfect clarity is not always possible, and leaders are not always in control of events. But that doesn’t mean all the action must stop. Here are five tips for managing under uncertainty.

[Actually, here are three. To read the complete article, please click here]

Provide certainty of process. Even if we can’t tell people what the outcome will be, we can provide clarity about when information will be provided. A calendar filled in with communication dates can reduce some of the anxiety of uncertainty. It’s good leadership to overcome reluctance to say “I don’t know,” and instead to engage people in discussion about the situation, letting them know when they’ll know. Emphasizing meaningful rituals is another tactic. To have some things that the community or family does together regularly, no matter what, increases the ability to get on with the action even if situations aren’t yet fully resolved.

Tackle maintenance and repair. Uncertain times, when some things are on hold, provide a good opportunity for fix-ups and clean-ups. Uncertainty makes it tempting to let things deteriorate (maybe we won’t keep this office going or live in this place any longer). But fixing things that can be improved represents productive action. For example, for job-seekers, embarking on a fitness regiment can add energy, lift spirits, and potentially make the person more attractive to a potential employer.

Let ideas flow. Opening the brainstorming faucet washes away some uncertainty. Since uncertainty leads to rampant gossip and speculation anyway, it can be a good time to harness imagination toward productive ends. Big companies have equally big planning departments, undoubtedly spewing out data files of alternative scenarios, but average workers and ordinary people can play, too. Brainstorming about possible futures stimulates imagination about what to do under nearly any circumstance. Will they or won’t they raise the debt ceiling? Will there be a law favoring green investments, or not — or should there be a push for one? Which newspapers are better weathering the digital revolution? How will retailing look different with or without lower unemployment? Seeds of innovation could sprout.

*     *     *

Rosabeth Moss Kanter is a professor at Harvard Business School and the 
author of Confidence and SuperCorp. Connect with her 
on Facebook or at Twitter.com/RosabethKanter.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cultivate a Culture of Confidence

Rosabeth Moss Kanter

Here is an excerpt from an article written by Rosabeth Moss Kanter for the Harvard Business Review‘s “The Conversation” series. To read the complete article, check out other articles and resources, and/or sign up for a free subscription to Harvard Business Review’s Daily Alerts, please click here.

*     *     *

Even for the best companies and most-accomplished professionals, long track records of success are punctuated by slips, slides, and mini-turnarounds. Even the team that wins the game might make mistakes, fumble, and lag behind for part of it. That’s why the ability to recover quickly and get back on course is so important.

Troubles are ubiquitous. Surprises can fall from the sky like volcanic ash and appear to change everything. New ventures can begin with great promise and still face unexpected obstacles, unanticipated delays, and critics that pop up at the wrong moment. That’s why I coined Kanter’s Law: “Anything can look like a failure in the middle.”

Nothing succeeds for long without considerable effort and constant vigilance. Winning streaks end for predictable reasons: Strategies run their course. New competition emerges to take on the industry leader. Ideas get dusty. Technology marches on. Complacency sets in, making people feel entitled to success rather than motivated to work for it.

Thus, a key factor in high achievement is bouncing back from the low points. Long-term winners often face the same problems as long-term losers, but they respond differently, as I found in the research for my book Confidence.

I compared companies and sports teams with long winning streaks and long losing streaks, and then looked at how leaders led turnarounds from low to high performance.

Consider first the pathologies of losing. Losing produces temptations to behave in ways that make it hard to recover fast enough—and could even make the situation worse. For example, panicking and throwing out the game plan. Scrambling for self-protection and abandoning the rest of the group. Hiding the facts and hoping that things will get better by themselves before anyone notices. Denying that there is anything to learn or change. Using decline as an excuse to let facilities or investments deteriorate.

The culture and support system that surrounds high performers helps them avoid these temptations. They can put troubles in perspective because they are ready for them. They rehearse through diligent practice and preparation; they remain disciplined and professional. Their leaders put facts on the table and review what went right or wrong in the last round, in order to shore up strengths and pinpoint weaknesses and to encourage personal responsibility for actions. They stress collaboration and teamwork—common goals; commitment to a joint vision; respect and support for team members, so when someone drops the ball, someone else is there to pick it up—and responsibility for mentoring, so the best performers lift everyone’s capabilities. They seek creative ideas for improvement and innovation, favoring widespread dialogue and brainstorming.

Resilience is not simply an individual characteristic or a psychological phenomenon. It is helped or hindered by the surrounding system. Teams that are immersed in a culture of accountability, collaboration, and initiative are more likely to believe that they can weather any storm. Self-confidence, combined with confidence in one another and in the organization, motivates winners to make the extra push that can provide the margin of victory.

The lesson for leaders is clear: Build the cornerstones of confidence—accountability, collaboration, and initiative—when times are good and achievement comes easily. Maintain a culture of confidence as insurance against the inevitable downturns. And while no one should deliberately seek failure, remember that performance under pressure—the ability to stay calm, learn, adapt, and keep on going—separates winners from losers.

*     *     *

Rosabeth Moss Kanter holds Harvard Business School’s Arbuckle Professorship and specializes in strategy, innovation, and leadership. Her latest book is SuperCorp (Crown, 2009)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Confident Decisiveness, from the Beginning – but never Arrogance

“Arrogance diminishes wisdom.”
Arabian Proverb

———-

Here is one of those delicate balancing acts.  A leader has to be confident – but not arrogant.

Confidence spreads like wildfire.  A confident person will energize followers.  A confident person will lead to decisive actions by all who follow.  A confident person will recruit willing, eager followers.

But…an arrogant person will breed resentment, and the “followers” will be anything but eager.

I thought of all this as I read the opening lines of Hit the Ground Running by Jason Jennings.  He begins the book with a call to decisive action.  He speaks of decisiveness – of decisive action from the very beginning:

Every manager or leader needs to hit the ground running!
When you’re given the opportunity to take charge and you get it right, you put yourself on the your leadership’s radar.  Do it right a second time and you’ll become known as a go-to manager who can be trusted to deliver results.
But if you don’t get it right, you’ll join a long list of question marks at your company.
…it’s imperative that you know how to get up to speed, make good decisions, quickly, and begin producing results fast.

Al of this flows from a person who exudes self-confidence:  confidence about his/her own abilities, confidence about outcomes, confidence about processes.

But, confidence in yourself, and in the abilities of the people you lead…without arrogance.  That is the challenge.

Sunday, February 6, 2011 Posted by | Randy's blog entries | , , , , | Leave a comment

Five ways to get out of a rut and get moving

Rosabeth Moss Kanter

Here is an excerpt from an article written by Rosabeth Moss Kanter for the Harvard Business Review blog. To read the complete article, check out other articles and resources, and/or sign up for a free subscription to Harvard Business Review’s Daily Alerts, please click here.

*     *     *

Stuck. That’s how slow growth economies make everyone feel. Just when companies need fresh ideas and strategies to secure the future, employees are overloaded and disengaged. Organizations in every field need innovative approaches.

Here are a variety of ways to climb out of the rut and get moving in a positive direction.

Break up the formula. Shake up structures and time blocks. Add surprises that vary the routine and encourage customer attention and employee creativity. Use pop-up stores that appear temporarily, then disappear, to capture attention for short bursts of intense effort. If the formula is a big bag of crackers, make it in a 100-calorie mini-version. If the company is known for big box stores in the suburbs, create small box stores in the city. The important thing is to encourage a culture in which assumptions can be constantly challenged. Sure, it’s efficient to do things one way repeatedly, but it’s boring and stifles innovation.

Demonstrate new capabilities through social purpose. One way to entice customers and motivate employees is to give new products, services, or capabilities to great causes before they’re fully commercialized. A telecom company showed the world the power of high-speed data transmission by putting it first in a middle school in a disadvantaged community, thereby dramatically improving the school and refining the product. IBM set up World Community Grid as a not-for-profit organization to donate new high-powered grid computing networks to significant and compelling scientific projects, such as seeking cures for cancer and mapping rivers for environmental purposes. Community good works can be an opportunity to showcase the best and latest capabilities, thereby benefiting society, promoting the company, and inspiring employees.

Decorate with ideas. Corporate art is often beautiful but over-rated as a source of inspiration. The walls in restricted corridors near the lunch buffet at Mars headquarters are filled with posters and photos featuring employee achievements, such as the winners in a global innovation contest. Everyone can see the ideas in details and get to know the teams behind them. Employees can find the same information on the web, but the impact of the live “art” is powerful. Similarly, a small tech company hangs flip chart pages with the results of employee brainstorming. People vie to have their ideas recorded to be seen among the charts. Lavish oil paintings wouldn’t have the same effect

Create a diplomatic force. Enthusiastic employees in any job, from cleaning crews to middle managers, can help tell the company story to friends, family, neighbors, media, and local institutions — but only if they want to. Find those with positive views and communication skills. Give them training that makes them feel special, outfit them with badges and materials, and offer bonuses. Encourage each group to recruit others, with no limits on how many people can get involved.

Offer employee amenities that spread relationships and ideas. Besides basic compensation and benefits, organizations can add amenities of value to individuals that also build relationships, spur innovation, encourage trend-spotting, and generally create a motivating culture. For example, Bloomberg’s coffee and snack bars that nudge people to mix and mingle, or PepsiCo’s buses that bring carless urbanites to its suburban campus while encouraging conversations and setting the tone for the day. Outside of work, companies can give employees coupons for discounts on vacation travel to business-strategic locations or places that the company might be considering and ask for any post-trip observations.

A little imagination and modest strategic investments can lift spirits and growth prospects.

*     *     *

Rosabeth Moss Kanter is a professor at Harvard Business School and the author of Confidence and SuperCorp. Connect with her on Facebook or at Twitter.com/RosabethKanter.

Monday, November 22, 2010 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rosabeth Moss Kanter on “15 Steps for Successful Strategic Alliances (and Marriages)”

Rosabeth Moss Kanter

Here is an excerpt from an article written by Rosabeth Moss Kanter for the Harvard Business Review blog. To read the complete article, check out other articles and resources, and/or sign up for a free subscription to Harvard Business Review’s Daily Alerts, please click here.

*     *     *

Wedding bells fill the Northern Hemisphere air for this season’s happy couples. Among the newlyweds armed with pre-nuptial agreements are numerous companies starting strategic alliances, joint ventures, and focused collaboratives.

Unlike full-blown mergers, in which two really do become one because one company disappears, alliances and partnerships resemble modern marriages: separate careers, individual checkbooks, sometimes different names, but the need to work out the operational overlap around household and offspring.

For many years, I’ve helped major companies and other organizations extract value from their strategic alliances or watch them disappear. I’ve developed a 15-step guide to ensuring success as every stage of the relationship, from courtship to ongoing success (first reported in my book World Class).

So here is my business marriage counseling advice. Any resemblances to personal marriages or advice for June newlyweds are strictly intentional.

[Here are the first eight.]

1. Be open to romance, but court carefully. At the beginning of new relationships, selective perceptions reinforce dreams, not dangers. Potential partners see in the other what they want to see, believing what they want to believe. Hopes, dreams, and visions should be balanced by reality checks.

2. Know yourself. Build your strengths. An organization seeking partners should identify assets that have value to partners and strengthen them. Networks of the weak do not survive. The best alliances join strength to strength.

3. Seek compatibility in values. In rapidly changing environments, compatibility in values, philosophy and goals is more important than specific features of an immediate business deal. The basis for collaboration must be more enduring, and there must be a foundation for mutual trust to help weather inevitable changes or problems.

4. Treat the ‘extended family’ respectfully. Include other partners and stakeholders. Rapport between leaders of partner organizations is not enough. Other people and organizations who are the ‘relatives’ in each organizations’ extended family must also be won over.

5. Put the lawyers in their place. Leader-to-leader relationships are important. Partnerships and network formation shouldn’t be turned over to third-party professionals, such as staff analysts, lawyers, consultants, or deal-brokers.

6. Vow to work together until business conditions do us part. Commit to a first project, to exploring growth in the relationship, to monitor change, and to remain friends if changing conditions require a graceful exit.

7. But don’t count on the contract. Formal agreements can’t anticipate everything, and interpretations of the agreement vary — even within the same organization.

8. So keep communicating, face-to-face. Matters are more easily sorted out when partners’ leaders keep talking long after their initial deal-making and dedicate people to watch over the relationship — a partner or alliance ‘ambassador’ (the equivalent of key account managers).

To ensure that your partnerships are effective, apply these principles at every stage of the relationship. Then toast the benefits of happy marriages!

*     *     *

Rosabeth Moss Kanter
is a professor at Harvard Business School and the author of Confidence and SuperCorp. Connect with her on Facebook or at Twitter.com/RosabethKanter.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rosabeth Moss Kanter on “BP’s Tony Hayward and the Failure of Leadership Accountability”

Rosabeth Moss Kanter

Here is an excerpt from article written by Rosabeth Moss Kanter for the Harvard Business Review blog. To read the complete article, check out other articles and resources, and/or sign up for a free subscription to Harvard Business Review’s Daily Alerts, please visit http://blogs.hbr.org/.

* * *

BP doesn’t need an engineer at the helm. It needs a leader.

Of course engineers matter, when the task is stemming damage from the largest oil spill in U.S. history. BP needs all the talent it can get. Scientists, engineers, and technicians, including the 2500 BOP employees sent to the Gulf from all over the world, have a critical role to play in cleaning up the environmental mess.

But BP must also clean up an organizational and cultural mess. The company needs a leader who engenders confidence. CEO Tony Hayward has had over six weeks in the spotlight to demonstrate his leadership capabilities. Yet the situation keeps getting worse: escalating damage in the Gulf and a whopping 35% drop in BP’s stock price.

A true leader faces facts, presents a situation fully to all stakeholders, and models accountability. A leader does not attempt to minimize the extent of a problem or promise action faster than can be delivered. A true leader sets appropriate expectations and delivers. He or she does not duck responsibility by shifting the bulk of the blame to someone else.

About a week after the April 20 explosion, Hayward was quoted in the New York Times as asking his executive team, “What the hell did we do to deserve this?” Recently, he declared that “I want my life back.”


Mr. Hayward, it’s not about you.
The only consideration should be what’s best for the institution and its stakeholders. Eleven workers are dead, and damage to the ecosystem and coastal livelihoods are incalculable. Tony Hayward’s actions have not been responsive, and when that happens, a manager is dispensable. He can’t be the only person who can run the company during this crisis — which means that BP has even more BP (big problems) ahead.

* * *

To read the complete article, check out other articles and resources, and/or sign up for a free subscription to Harvard Business Review’s Daily Alerts, please visit http://blogs.hbr.org/.

Rosabeth Moss Kanter is a professor at Harvard Business School and the author of Confidence and SuperCorp. Connect with her on Facebook or at Twitter.com/RosabethKanter.

Saturday, June 19, 2010 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rosabeth Moss Kanter’s seven hints for selling ideas

Rosabeth Moss Kanter

Here is an excerpt from article written by Rosabeth Moss Kanter for the Harvard Business Review blog. To read the complete article, check out other articles and resources, and/or sign up for a free subscription to Harvard Business Review’s Daily Alerts, please visit dailyalert@email.harvardbusiness.org.

People whose ideas get traction — that manage get out of the starting gate — take advantage of this practical advice for selling ideas.
[Here are three of Kanter’s seven "hints."]

2. Seek many inputs. Listen actively to many points of view. Then incorporate aspects of each of them into the project plan, so that you can show people exactly where their perspectives or suggestions appear.

3. Do your homework. Be thoroughly prepared for meetings and individual discussions. Gather as much hard data as possibly to have command of the full facts, and speak knowledgeably from a broad information base. Know the interests of those to whom you’re speaking, and customize the message for them.

4. Make the rounds. Meet with people one-on-one to make the first introduction of your idea. It’s always a good idea to touch base with people individually before any key meetings, and to give them advance warning of what you and others are planning to say at the meeting. Then they can be prepared (and coached) in your point of view. And you know theirs, so you can modify your proposal accordingly.

* * *

Show that you can deliver. People want to back winners. Early in the process, provide evidence, even guarantees, that the project will work. Later, prove that you can deliver by meeting deadlines and doing what you promised.

* * *

To read the complete article, check out other articles and resources, and/or sign up for a free subscription to Harvard Business Review’s Daily Alerts, please visit dailyalert@email.harvardbusiness.org.

Rosabeth Moss Kanter is a professor at Harvard Business School and the author of Confidence and SuperCorp. Connect with her on Facebook or at Twitter.com/RosabethKanter.

Monday, June 7, 2010 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rosabeth Moss Kanter’s five tips for leading campaigns for change

Rosabeth Moss Kanter

Everyone agrees that culture is the hardest thing to change, whether ethics in the financial system or the eating habits of individuals. That’s because change is not a decision like appointing a new CEO, nor is it an event like winning an election. Change is an ongoing campaign.

Even in a hierarchy, top officials can declare a new policy or restructure by fiat, but they can’t change behavior without a campaign to win hearts and minds. If culture change is difficult within a company, it is even harder in looser systems such as communities and countries. In his book, All Deliberate Speed, Charles Ogletree examines the 50 years after the Supreme Court passed Brown v. Board of Education ordering the desegregation of U.S. public schools; yet decades later schools remain de facto segregated. If laws don’t produce change, then leaders must become adept at campaigns to change behavior.

The best campaigns for change have five elements:
[Here’s one of them.]

“Point of action” nudges. Popular media messages get generalized attention, just as commercials for products do, but like marketing campaigns that require point of sale support, successful behavior change campaigns need to place reminders at the point of action — the moment of truth when behavior is set in motion. For example, bars are naturals for designated driver or safe sex campaign materials. Hand-washing reminders and hand-sanitizers are now prevalent in restaurants and hospitals.
Campaigns for culture change flourish under experienced leaders in later stages of life ready to jump into making a big impact on society. This reasoning underlies the meta-campaign of the Advanced Leadership Fellowship: to deploy a leadership force of social change campaigners. We’re seeking a few great leaders to join the movement and create the next designated driver, patient safety, or science education campaign. The results can improve competitiveness and save lives. That’s a campaign worth undertaking.

* * *
To read the complete article, check out other articles and resources, and/or sign up for a free subscription to Harvard Business Review’s Daily Alerts, please visit dailyalert@email.harvardbusiness.org.

Rosabeth Moss Kanter is a professor at Harvard Business School and the author of Confidence and SuperCorp. Connect with her on Facebook or at Twitter.com/RosabethKanter.

Friday, May 21, 2010 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rosabeth Moss Kanter on adding values to valuations: Indra Nooyi and others as institution-builders

Here is an excerpt from article written by Rosabeth Moss Kanter for the Harvard Business Review blog. To read the complete article, check out other articles and resources, and/or sign up for a free subscription to Harvard Business Daily Alerts, please visit dailyalert@email.harvardbusiness.org.

* * *

(Editor’s note: This post is part of a six-week blog series on how leadership might look in the future. The conversations generated by these posts will help shape the agenda of a symposium on the topic in June 2010, hosted by HBS’s Nitin Nohria, Rakesh Khurana, and Scott Snook.)

When I imagine the future of leadership, one face I picture is Indra Nooyi, chairman and CEO of PepsiCo.

Nooyi moved from India to the U.S., then rose in this multinational beverage and snack company to head the financial function before becoming CEO. Today, she retains her financial savvy but has broadened her agenda well beyond the numbers. Nooyi is leading PepsiCo to examine the health implications of its products, partner with governments and NGOs, grow the business in emerging markets, and empower the younger generation to take responsibility early in their careers. On her watch, PepsiCo hired an official from the World Health Organization to be chief scientist, an industry first. The company has already found a way to reduce the sodium in potato chips.

Under Nooyi, PepsiCo is reshaping relationships between business and society. PepsiCo launched a partnership with Waste Management Inc. to create innovative public recycling kiosks offering incentives for consumers to deposit empty bottles and cans. The company took marketing funds generally used for expensive Super Bowl TV commercials and has used them instead for the “Pepsi Refresh” challenge, a competition to find the best not-for-profit organizations whose social innovations can solve significant world problems.

Cross-cultural, female, visionary, and values-driven, Nooyi embodies characteristics that will be increasingly sought in leaders for a globalizing world. In an interdependent world of border-crossing and boundary-spanning, leaders must position their organizations not only in the marketplace but also in a social nexus in which sectors overlap and societal problems belong to everyone.

Vanguard leaders add a social logic to traditional financial logic. Procter & Gamble CEO Robert McDonald is passionate about P&G’s values and culture, including its stated purpose to “improve the lives of the world’s consumers, now and for generations to come.” In the fall of 2009, he launched a new business strategy, which he calls “purpose-inspired growth”: to “improve more lives in more places more completely.” GE’s Jeffrey Immelt has reshaped General Electric around “eco-imagination,” which is a business strategy and a societal purpose. Timberland’s CEO Jeffrey Swartz has long advocated the marriage of commerce and justice and was a pioneer in offering employees community service opportunities. In smaller organizations, too, entrepreneurs are creating businesses that echo their values. Seth Goldman leads Honest Tea, orienting this emerging company around healthy, organic ingredients and support for good causes through product lines such as “community green tea.”

These vanguard leaders and companies reflect opportunities and imperatives for sustainability in a topsy-turvy world. Globalization and the spread of information technology have turned organizations upside-down and inside-out. Decisions are being pushed to lower levels, closer to the field, or propelled by self-organizing networks. Societal issues and social identities have come inside organizations as discussable matters, while more people are encouraged to engage with society outside the organization. More information is transmitted more rapidly, exposing the inside to external scrutiny and making misconduct easier to find and report. Frequent and often unexpected change has added to uncertainty and complexity. More people from different cultures, backgrounds, and social types interact more frequently, making diversity a given and cultural understanding a priority.

As cosmopolitan boundary-crossers who see beyond their industry, sector, or home country, leaders must understand the greater good while find opportunities in societal problem-solving to create innovations that build the future. They must seek partnerships that help them accomplish missions impossible for one organization to handle alone. They must understand the broader context in which they operate while also having the vision to change it. Their business savvy is still important, but by adding societal values to financial valuations they create a meaningful human institution out of a bundle of impersonal assets.

* * *

To read the complete article, check out other articles and resources, and/or sign up for a free subscription to Harvard Business Daily Alerts, please visit dailyalert@email.harvardbusiness.org.

* * *

Rosabeth Moss Kanter holds the Arbuckle Professorship at Harvard Business School, chairs the Harvard University Advanced Leadership Initiative, and is the author of Confidence and SuperCorp: How Vanguard Companies Create Innovation, Profits, Growth and Social Good.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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