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Monday, January 11, 2010

M&A Skills Honed as Athletes

Kraft Foods Inc. Chief Executive Officer Irene Rosenfeld and Cadbury Plc CEO Todd Stitzer disagree on the merits of merging their companies. They’ll both need to prove themselves if the deal falls through.

Stitzer has engineered more than 40 transactions since joining Cadbury Plc as a Columbia-trained mergers and acquisitions lawyer. In 2003, the Pennsylvania-raised CEO outbid Nestle SA for chewing-gum maker Adams Inc., making Cadbury the world’s biggest confectioner. The U.K. company held that rank until it was displaced by Mars Inc.’s $22.6 billion purchase of Wm Wrigley Jr. Co. in 2008.
Rosenfeld has spent more than 25 years at Kraft, with a two- year interruption in 2004 to run PepsiCo Inc.’s Frito-Lay snack- food unit. Last year, Forbes magazine ranked her No. 6 on its list of the world’s most powerful women, three behind PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi.

Both CEOs have honed their competitive skills as athletes. Rosenfeld, who is also Kraft’s chairman, played four varsity sports in high school and chose Cornell University as her alma mater partly because of the women’s athletic program. Stitzer, who has dual U.S. and U.K. citizenship, paid for law school at Columbia University by playing professional tennis.

A Test of Character

J F Roxburgh, the first headmaster of Stowe School, said he wanted to turn out young men who would be "acceptable at a dance and invaluable in a shipwreck". Perhaps the examples need a little updating, but Roxburgh's goal perfectly captures the ingredients of good character: moral courage, civility and an ability to put the needs of others before your own.

Questions of character are being posed again today, after decades of neglect. This character revival is occurring as politicians and policy-makers in the UK realise that many of their most cherished goals – for social mobility, co-operation, social responsibility – cannot be met through either the machinery of the state or the magic of the market. Character is an old-fashioned term for a set of pressing contemporary problems.

For more, see - http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/david-cameron/6965133/David-Cameron-A-test-of-character.html

Dealing with Tough Days

Even the most dedicated and experienced of leaders will admit that there are more than a few days when they wonder whether it might not be a lot less stressful to hang up their leadership boots in favour of an individual contributor role. There are many days when you will drive home from work wondering whether you truly accomplished anything, and others when you will feel like you just took a few steps in the wrong direction.

Here are some ideas for dealing with these tough days:

1. Every problem or crisis is an opportunity to build your leadership skills along with your confidence and credibility.

2. Problems create teachable opportunities. Don’t waste these opportunities.

3. It’s the challenges that you and your team conquered that you will remember. Make some memories!

4. Remember that you don’t have to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders. If you’ve done your job and earned respect, your team members are there to help ease the burden. Ask for help.

5. People aren’t programmed to act and respond in ways that always fit your plans. Losing a great employee is painful, but if it has to happen, ensure that the relationship transitions to one of valued and always welcome friend.

6. Be thankful for feedback that says that you can improve. At least someone cares.

7. Leaders earn dividends over the long term. Your payoff comes a decade from now when the people that you are leading today are rising to new heights in their careers. They did the work but perhaps you played a small role along the way. Take pride in their accomplishments.