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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Positive Leadership: Breaking Out of Your Comfort Zone

Douglas Conant is an introvert.

But when he took over as president and CEO of struggling Campbell Soup Co., he realised he had to break out of his comfort zone, get in front of his staff, and make some bold declarations from the get-go……
Campbell was in rough shape when Conant joined the company in January 2001. …Conant took a good long look at staff morale and didn't like what he saw.

"We had a toxic culture. People were understandably jaundiced with management," he said. "It was hard for me to imagine that we could inspire high performance with no employee engagement."….

To improve the culture in the workplace, Conant started at the top. He held weekly staff meetings and used a scorecard that evaluated each leader's performance. He created a leadership model that outlined expectations. The number one expectation was inspiring trust--and that meant managers had to have a certain level of both "competence and character," he said.

"You have to know what you're doing, and you have to do what you say you're going to do. Before you have the moral authority to lead your team, you have to inspire trust," he said. "Trust is the one thing that changes everything. In a high-trust culture, it's so much easier to get things done."…… How could we be a higher-ambition company if we didn't have higher-ambition leaders?"……

Many people weren't cut out for the job. In the first three years, 300 of the top 350 leaders at the company exited. Conant focused on making those who stayed and were committed to the mission feel good about their work. In fact, he went so far as to write 10 to 20 handwritten personal notes to employees at all levels of the organization each day to recognise those who were performing well. During his 10-year tenure as CEO, that added up to over 30,000 notes to his 20,000 employees. Conant started to feel a change in the work atmosphere……..

Conant established two performance metrics to measure progress, one based on economic value, measured by shareholder returns compared to competitor companies; and the other based on social value, measured by the Gallup Employee Engagement Index……

The company made steady progress in both areas. For the six years preceding July 2010, Campbell's cumulative total shareholder return was 64%, nearly five times the 13% return of the S&P 500. And by 2010, the Gallup Employee Engagement Index showed that for every 17 engaged employees, only one was disengaged, a ratio that exceeded Gallup's "world-class" benchmark of 12:1. More impressively, the engagement ratio for the top 350 leaders was an amazing 77:1…..

……And ultimately, Conant found that as CEO, taking centre stage and leading the efforts made all the difference. Perhaps just as importantly, he knew his company subscribed to what he preached.
"CEOs must lead from in front. And we have to behave our way to more credibility," said Conant, who retired from Campbell in 2011 and is now founding CEO of Conant Leadership. "It's not what you say, it's what you do."  

For the full article, see: http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/7133.html


Friday, March 22, 2013

Positive Leadership: Practice What You Preach

Leah Busque, founder and CEO of TaskRabbit, said that focusing only on larger end goals can be overwhelming. Instead, she focuses on each smaller step.

“I wake up every morning with a singular goal - to push my company as far as I can that day. My company is dedicated to solving a pretty huge problem, and it can be overwhelming to think of the magnitude of this vision. My approach is to choose specific and actionable items to complete each day to move us closer to these goals, and to encourage everyone on my team to do the same. This keeps us on track for accomplishing the big picture,” Busque says.

So, true to the mission of her company, she outsources everything that's not vital - laundry, grocery shopping, house cleaning - to free her up for the important stuff.

"Which brings me to my biggest productivity secret: I love what I do. Knowing TaskRabbit is poised to revolutionise work as we know it is like rocket fuel to me.”


Thursday, March 21, 2013

Positive Leadership: Have Passion For What You Do

Aaron Levie, founder of Box, said his passion and drive - and what ultimately keeps him going despite the long hours and obstacles along the way - are derived from finding answers to challenges that impact massive numbers of people every day.

“I'm motivated by solving problems. Sometimes these are problems we didn't even realise we had, or maybe they're problems we're well aware of, but haven't historically had the power to solve. And it's a never-ending thing, because the rate of change in the technology industry generates all-new challenges, as well as all-new opportunities to solve them,” Levie says.

When he started Box in 2005, he had a very simple problem in mind. Sharing content between people was absurdly difficult, and was often achieved by passing thumb drives back-and-forth, or sending files as email attachments. Levie decided to tackle this problem by making it incredibly easy for people to store and share information online.

"That's still the core of our mission today, but in the past seven years, the world has changed dramatically. The rise of post-PC devices - smartphones and tablets - is as transformative as the PC revolution was in the '80s and '90s. And in 2007, we realised that the information sharing challenges of enterprises were far more interesting than those of consumers, so we decided to address that, going up against some of the largest technology incumbents in the process."

“Every day we ask ourselves: how can we preserve the simplicity of sharing and collaboration for users, while meeting the highly complex needs of enterprises with hundreds of thousands of employees? It's a challenge that's constantly evolving, and it's an endless source of motivation for the entire crew at Box.”


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Positive Leadership: Do Something That Transcends Yourself

Shaherose Charania, co-founder of Women 2.0, says she is driven by doing impactful work that transcends herself. 

“Two things in my life always fuel my energy: helping others and innovating with technology. From a young age, through my parents’ teaching and the lessons of my faith, I have felt responsible to give back - to share my time, my energy, my knowledge. In fact, my faith tells me that ‘to save one life is as if to save the entirety of humankind.’ Early on I gained perspective by traveling to developing places and seeing my own relatives, my own people, living in ways starkly different from my own. I learned that whatever I could offer, even if it seemed simple, could create change - and by changing one life, perhaps in some way I could contribute something helpful to all of humankind,” Charania says.

“Technology shows me new ways to contribute and create change on a new scale. It helps illuminate ways of using faith, intellect, and innovation to help improve lives, even societies. Through Founder Labs and Women 2.0, I am able to offer what I have to others, enabling them to see and perhaps build new opportunities and to bring new companies and new solutions to the world. That privilege renews me, making me grateful and energised to move forward and face obstacles.”


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Positive Leadership: Lessons from Phil Jackson

Phil Jackson is a retired American professional basketball coach and former player. Jackson is widely considered one of the greatest coaches in the history of the National Basketball Association. He was the head coach of the Chicago Bulls from 1989 until 1998, during which Chicago won six NBA titles. His next team, the Los Angeles Lakers, won five NBA titles from 2000 until 2010.

His coaching career offers many leadership lessons, among them:

1. Teamwork

Phil Jackson believed strongly in teamwork. His employment of the triangle offense showed his thoughts about how a team should work together, having no one ‘glorified’ at the expense of the rest.
Although he had big characters like Dennis Rodman or Kobe Bryant in his team, he never allowed these stars to become the centre of the team. He emphasised a team centred form of play that became very successful in the NBA.

It is the same for all teams. A good team leader knows how to use each member’s strengths to their advantage. While it is sometimes tempting to glorify the “CEO” to above the rest of the company, it is important to note that the best companies in the world don’t have “Stars”.

2. Role playing

Phil Jackson used the power of role playing in his practices. It is said that in a practice against an important opponent, Jackson had one of his players of a similar build dress exactly like his opponent so that his players could visualise beating and overcoming him in practice.

Events often happen in the imagination of a person before they are brought into reality. You, too, use the power of role-playing to help your team visualise the success before they actually have it.


Monday, March 18, 2013

Positive Leadership: Customers First!

'An attitude that leaders serve customers first is especially vital to sustaining success. Employees are only empowered by serving customers. They’re not motivated by getting the stock price up, cutting the budget, or increasing the earnings. They don’t see tangible rewards from succeeding by those metrics, even if you make them shareholders. They get turned on about customers. In a Starbucks store, the barista gets excited about creating an environment that’s fun for the customer. I was at Starbucks earlier this morning and saw a barista greet a customer by saying, “Oh, Rick, nice to see you. Do you want the Rick special?” Rick comes there every morning because he has a relationship with that Starbucks employee.'

Bill George - is a professor of management practice at Harvard Business School, where he has taught leadership since 2004, and the former chairman and chief executive officer of Medtronic.


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Positive Leadership: Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

Steve Jobs was always described as an innovator, a visionary; and rightly so. 

Over the years, many people have looked up to Steve Jobs as a source of inspiration. 

Here are what we consider are the ten best inspirational quotes by the man himself.

1. At an Apple product event for the first Macintosh computer on January 24, 1984: "We're gambling on our vision, and we would rather do that than make "me, too" products. Let some other companies do that. For us, it's always the next dream."

2. In Playboy magazine in February 1985: "If you want to live your life in a creative way, as an artist, you have to not look back too much. You have to be willing to take whatever you've done and whoever you were and throw them away."

3. At the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference, May 1997: "I'm actually as proud of the things we haven't done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things."

4. Talking about work at the Stanford University's Commencement address on June 12, 2005: "Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle."

5. Talking about him being fired from Apple at the Stanford University's Commencement Speech 2005: "I didn't see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.[...] It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith."

6. Steve Jobs gave an interview in "60 minutes" in 2003 in which he shared that his business model was inspired by The Beatles: "My model for business is The Beatles: They were four guys that kept each other's negative tendencies in check; they balanced each other. And the total was greater than the sum of the parts. Great things in business are not done by one person, they are done by a team of people."

7. In an interview to BusinessWeek in 1998: "That's been one of my mantras - focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it's worth it in the end, because once you get there, you can move mountains."

8. In a statement to The New York Times, 2003: "[Design is] not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works."

9. On being the richest man in an interview to The Wall Street Journal in 1993 "Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn't matter to me... Going to bed at night saying we've done something wonderful... that's what matters to me."

10. Talking about Death at the Stanford University commencement speech, June 2005: "Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything -- all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure -- these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart. ... Stay hungry. Stay foolish."


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Positive Leadership: Vince Lombardi

'The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will.'

'The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.'

'Leaders are made, they are not born. They are made by hard effort, which is the price which all of us must pay to achieve any goal that is worthwhile.'

Vince Lombardi (1913-1970)


Monday, March 11, 2013

Positive Leadership: 'Being The Best That I Can Be'

'To be the best I can be.' 

This is one of the phrases we hear most when asking what a client’s ultimate goals include. At the same time this phrase can either be considered an excuse or an amazingly powerful objective. 

If you use it as an excuse then it is likely you are already about as good as you are going to be. 

On the other hand if you are using it as a motivating force - a guiding star - then you are constantly looking for ways to get better. The “getting better” attitude means there is a constant tension between being dissatisfied with your current state and acknowledging the progress you are making. The getting better attitude has the following characteristics:

1. Errors are genuinely seen as learning opportunities.

2. Feedback is constantly sought. In fact you probably drive other people mad by constantly asking for feedback...and accepting and learning from it.

3. You are a ‘doer’. Working hard, monitoring your results and looking for affirmation that you are progressing.

4. You are prepared to try things which are different or non-conventional, provided the logic behind doing them is clear.

Do you genuinely hold the ‘getting better’ attitude? If you do, then good on you; you’ll find your competition lessens as you attain ever-higher levels of output and performance.


Friday, March 08, 2013

Positive Leadership: Choose Your Office Friends Wisely

New hires often seek professional advice from colleagues of the same nationality or background as a means of settling into a new environment. But this reliance on compatriots can work against you.


Thursday, March 07, 2013

Positive Leadership: Why Values-Based Leadership Matters

A thought-provoking look at why values matter more than ever to leaders in our complex, fast-moving world:


Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Positive Leadership: Communicating in a Crisis

Chris Lehane, political strategist and Stanford Graduate School of Business lecturer, explains how to effectively communicate in a crisis situation.

Lehane served as special assistant counsel to President Bill Clinton and press secretary for Al Gore's presidential campaign.

He co-wrote the book Masters of Disaster: The Ten Commandments of Damage Control with filmmaker and Stanford GSB lecturer Bill Guttentag.


Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Positive Leadership: Developing Leaders


Monday, March 04, 2013

Positive Leadership: Psychological Testing for Recruitment

Picking ‘winners’ – some excellent insights from Arsenal FC manager Arsene Wenger on the importance of testing for motivation, intelligence and tenacity in young footballers.


Friday, March 01, 2013

Positive Leadership: Being a Great Team Member

Good teams have the skill to win games; the great teams have the skill and the will to win games! The will to get through difficult times!

Deep down inside we all know we can't do it alone. We know that Cup Finals are not won by individuals. They are won by a collection of individuals who make a great team. It's the same with work and life. We are better together when we are surrounded by great team members.  Here are none ways to be a great team member.

1. Set the Example - Instead of worrying about the lack of performance, productivity and commitment of others you simply decide to set the example and show your team members what hard work, passion and commitment looks like. Focus on being your best every day. When you do this you’ll raise the standards and performance of everyone around you.

2. Use Your Strengths to Help the Team - The most powerful way you can contribute to your team is to use your gifts and talents to contribute to the team's vision and goals. Without your effort, focus, talent and growth the team won't accomplish its mission. This means you have an obligation to improve so you can improve your team. You are meant to develop your strengths to make a stronger team. Be selfish by developing you and unselfish by making sure your strengths serve the team.

3. Share Positive Contagious Energy - Research shows emotions are contagious and each day you are infecting your team with either positive energy or negative energy. You can be a germ or a big dose of Vitamin C. When you share positive energy you infectiously enhance the mood, morale and performance of your team. Remember, negativity is toxic and will sabotage teams. Complaining is like vomiting. Afterwards you feel better but everyone around you feels sick.

4. Know and Live the Magic Ratio - High performing teams have more positive interactions than negative interactions. 3:1 is the ratio to remember. Teams that experience interactions at a ratio equal or greater than 3:1 are more productive and higher performing than those with a ratio of less than 3:1. Teams that have a ratio of 2:1, 1:1 or more negative interactions than positive interactions become stagnant and unproductive. This means you can be a great team member by being a 3 to 1’er. Create more positive interactions. Praise more. Encourage more. Appreciate more. Smile more. High-five more. Recognise more. Energise more.

5. Put the Team First - Great team players always put the team first. They work hard for the team. They develop themselves for the team. They serve the team. Their motto is whatever it takes to make the team better. They don’t take credit. They give credit to the team. To be a great team member your ego must be subservient to the mission and purpose of the team. It’s a challenge to keep our ego in check. It’s something most of us struggle with because we have our own goals and desires. But if we monitor our ego and put the team first we’ll make the team better and our servant approach will make us better.

6. Build Relationships - Relationships are the foundation upon which winning teams are built and great team members take the time to connect, communicate and care to build strong bonds and relationships with all their team members. You can be the smartest person in the room but if you don’t connect with others you will fail as a team member. It’s important to take the time to get to know your team members. Listen to them. Eat with them. Learn about them. Know what inspires them and show them you care about them.

7. Trust and Be Trusted - You can’t have a strong team without strong relationships. And you can’t have strong relationships without trust. Great team members trust their teammates and most of all their team members trust them. Trust is earned through integrity, consistency, honesty, transparency, vulnerability and dependability. If you can’t be trusted you can’t be a great team member. Trust is everything.

8. Hold Them Accountable - Sometimes our team members fall short of the team's expectations. Sometimes they make mistakes. Sometimes they need a little tough love. Great team members hold each other accountable. They push, challenge and stretch each other to be their best. Don’t be afraid to hold your team members accountable. But remember to be effective you must built trust and a relationship with your team members. If they know you care about them, they will allow you to challenge them and hold them accountable. Tough love works when love comes first. Love tough.

9. Be Humble - Great team members are humble. They are willing to learn, improve and get better. They are open to their team member's feedback and suggestions and don’t let their ego get in the way of their growth or the team’s growth. If we're not humble we won’t allow ourselves to be held accountable. We won’t grow. We won’t build strong relationships and we won’t put the team first. There’s tremendous power in humility that makes us and our team better.