3 things people need from a Leader

Alan Mulally, ex-CEO of Ford, spoke to the Vistage membership recently. He shared his own life story, and his advice to CEOs on how to lead in these times of uncertainty.

People need from Leaders:

  1. Who are you?
  2. Where are we going?
  3. Do you see me?

I share what people are looking for in the video below.

If you liked this video, you will also like Indra Nooyi ex-CEO Pepsi on Leadership in Times of Crisis and Leaders must develop 2 capacities in the people around them.

The $5 Challenge – A Stanford Strategy Story…

Back in 2009, Stanford prof Tina Seelig split students in the school of engineering into teams and gave them an envelope containing $5.

Teams had only two hours to generate as much money as possible. Each team would get three minutes to present their project to the entire class.

Here is Tina’s own article explaining the experience: The $5 Challenge

What would be your Strategy?

Check out the video below to hear how the challenge went… and how to use this thinking in your own life and business…

The teams that made the most money didn’t use the five dollars at all.

They realised that focusing on the money actually framed the problem way too tightly. They understood that five dollars is essentially nothing and decided to reinterpret the problem more broadly: What can we do to make money if we start with absolutely nothing?

In our own lives and businesses it is very easy to limit ourselves to “how do I do more of what I am already good at?” or “How do I use my current capacities to maximise return?”.

How do you do strategy for your life and business?

It feels good to share a video again… it has been 6 weeks of procrastination. Thanks to all of you who reached out with encouragements and ideas!

Making Committed Decisions

…is much better than making “correct” decisions

On making Committed Decisions…

A committed decision is much more powerful than a “correct” decision.

A committed decision takes full responsibility.

A committed decision knows that there are risks and challenges that you will have to find a way to overcome.

A committed decision changes your life.

More on making great decisions…

Are you overwhelmed with problems?

Are you overwhelmed with the weight of the world? Are too many problems weighing you down and making life feel heavy? Are you tired?

I heard this story on the Tim Ferriss podcast recently, and I found it quite profound for such a seemingly “simple” story.

It reminds me of another video that I made several years ago – on the most important lesson I have learnt in life.

The most important lesson for me is the Wisdom prayer of St Francis of Asisi…

Give me the strength to change the things I can change,

Give me the patience to accept the things I cannot change,

and Give me the Wisdom to tell the difference.

Here’s the old video (from Paris): The most important lesson.

Be careful of Lazy thinking

We have a wonderful capacity to mess up our lives through lazy or fantasy thinking. We make blanket black and white statements… rather than seeking the shades of grey.

“I hate my job” -> what parts exactly?

Life is richer than black and white. You don’t hate every single part, activity, person in your job… be really specific – what do you like, what do you not like.

Solve the solve-able problems. If you don’t like something find a way to do less of it. Find someone who enjoys it. If you do like something, find a way to do more of it. Spend more time with the people who give you energy.

I love the approach of “Design Thinking”. Stay with your curiosity and take time to get the question correct. How do I improve my job, make a greater impact, feel like I am doing meaningful work, while being paid well, and enjoying my social life and with a family that is supportive of each other… you need messy questions to start to clarify what constraints, what changes, what problems you will stick with.

Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water

Humanistic Management, Xavier Marcet

This week we had Xavier Marcet as the keynote speaker for our anual Vistage all-member event on the subject of Humanistic Management.

the author with Xavier Marcet

Xavier Marcet has a regular column in the la Vanguardia newspaper that regularly gets up to a million views. He shares thoughts about “humanistic management” and has published 3 books – the last two being “Avoiding Mediocrity” and “Grow helping others grow”.

Xavier’s definition of Humanistic Management is “getting results, but taking great care of the means by which you get results.”

Xavier shared 16 reflections on what it takes to be a “humanistic” manager… although something got lost in my notes and I only have 15 in my notebook 😉

Putting Humanistic Management into Action

  1. Consistency – evolving alongside your clients… but not 15 steps ahead… just half a step ahead. If you get 15 steps ahead of your clients, you get attention and applause… but no sales. His question for the group: are you being consistent in your own life?
  2. More Strategy, less planning – the work of Henry Minzberg showed that some companies follow plans, some companies don’t follow plans… but what makes the positive difference is that there is a “future framework” – there is a common understanding in the company of what type of future we are heading for, and what type of future we really do not want.
  3. The 3 Runways of Strategy – there are 3 runways that are part of a business strategy –
    1. Today’s operations – what generates cashflow and profits today
    2. Future operations – innovation and exploration to develop tomorrow’s cash and profit engines
    3. People development – developing the talented, motivated people that you need today and tomorrow.
  4. The 3 Roles of the Leader – the three roles of the leader are
    1. Executive – setting KPIs and driving efficiency in today’s operations
    2. Director – building the future operations model
    3. Leader – developing the people around you.
  5. Ambidextrous Organisations – the ability to balance between exploiting today’s profitable operations and exploring future opportunities. Xavier’s question for the group: Do you control your agenda, or does your agenda control you?
  6. Efficiency and Effectiveness“Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things.” Peter Drucker
  7. Strategic Agility – the ability to take decisions under uncertainty and doubt.
  8. Innovation requires Empathy and Technology“we are overdosing on technology” Xavier Marcet; Don’t ask your clients what they need… watch them… pay attention. It is through observation of that they really do, and what they are trying to do that you truly see what is important. Observe more. Don’t ask what your clients want. They don’t really know.
  9. Innovation is really hard, but you don’t have a choice – the greatest risk you can take is to not innovate.
  10. Sustainable Innovation – if you automate 800 people’s jobs and then let them go without preparing them for their next role… this is an abdication of leadership. We have a responsibility to help others prepare for the future.
  11. The “Talentless” – Talent is Knowledge + Competency + Capacity to Adapt + Capacity to multiply other’s capacities; How do you become “talentless”? You stop learning. The day you stop learning, you begin to become “talentless”. You age very quickly. How to lead high performers so they create “ecosystems not ego-systems”? “without the team, you are nothing”.
  12. Leadership is service, not being served – Leaders need to combine Vision and personal example; Ambition and humilty. We are only great through people. Who “pulls you up”? Who do you “pull up”?
  13. Grow by growing others – improving your clients, your professional community, your shareholders, your society. Seek to grow the quality and capacity of everyone around you.
  14. Great Place to Work – we want 2 things to feel that we work in a great place – respect and dignity. “See the people around you for who they are”.
  15. Build a Legacy – the difference between a business and a company… a company has a way of facing life, a set of values, a way of being; a business makes money. Build a company. Make sure your company has a soul. Create opportunities that are meaningful for those around you.

Days vs Years

Our emotional experience of life can depend on the time horizon we choose to look at our lives.

If you look at the progress of your life each day, there are many wild swings.

If you look at the progress of your life over longer time horizons, the wild swings blur into the background and a more steady sense of progress emerges.

Which lens are you using to look at your projects? and your life?

I’ve never met a rich optimist

“I’ve never met a rich optimist”

Russell Kane

I heard this quote this morning on the High Performance podcast, and it made me stop and reflect.

I was an optimist for the first 40 years of life… and I’m working hard to change… Optimism is good for happiness, but not for taking disciplined, difficult actions that make a positive impact on your future.

Check out the video above, filmed in Seville next to the Cathedral.

If you liked this post, you will also like I know what I want to do, so why don’t I do it? and There is no Freedom without Self Discipline.

Set Goals for Direction, not for Destination

Over 15 years ago, a book was written by Eduardo Ponset called “the formula for happiness”. I don’t remember the formula, but I do remember something that had great importance for me.

One of the elements of the formula was a “B” for “busqueda” – the spanish word for “searching”. The feeling you get when you are making positive progress towards a meaningful goal. Eduardo said that it was key to happiness.

Around the time of publishing, the author of the book was interviewed on local television. He shared a story about his little dog. Each day the author arrives home to his building, and must climb several flights of stairs up to his apartment on the 2nd floor. As soon as he enters the main door of the building, his dog starts to get excited… he hears some barking. As he climbs the stairs, the dog gets more and more excited.

As Eduardo gets to his door, and then opens his door… the dog is crazily excited, jumping all around and tail wagging wildly.

His dog knows that food is coming.

Eduardo enters the kitchen, opens the cupboard where the dog food is kept. The dog is at the door of the kitchen (he knows he is not allowed into the kitchen itself). The dog is jumping, barking and wagging in the doorway.

Eduardo fills the dog’s bowl with food, walks to the sitting room, places the dog’s bowl on the floor.

The dog sniffs his bowl… calms down… and then goes and lies down on his dog bed.

Where did all the excitement go?

The joy is in the pursuit, not in the attainment of our goals.

Set Goals for Direction, not for Destination

Set goals to get you moving. Don’t worry too much about the exact details… if the goal gives you a sense of which way to head… it is enough. Once we are in movement towards a goal, we start to learn, resources start to become visible, help comes our way… and a sense of clarity comes to us.

In the video I compare this to the life of a shark… a shark needs movement for water to flow over its gills… and to breath. If a shark stops swimming, its gills stop working… and it begins to suffocate.

A human is similar in that positive movement in the direction of our goals brings us clarity. We stop moving, we lose clarity.

Indra Nooyi “Leadership in Times of Crisis”

Yesterday I had the privilege of spending an hour with the former Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo as she spoke with the global Vistage community.

Indra Nooyi

The title of her talk was “Leadership in Times of Crisis”.

Indra shared her 5 “C”s of leadership in organisations:

  1. Competence – “you have to have at least one ‘hip pocket’ skill, a unique competence that you gain a reputation for delivering on…”
  2. Courage and Confidence – you need people to follow you. People follow confidence.
  3. Communications Skills – especially in tough times, the ability to convey a vision that people want to follow… with authenticity, sincerity and passion.
  4. Curiosity – things are changing fast… you need to be a Life Long Learner… you need to be hungry to keep learning and adapting
  5. Compass – an inner personal compass that points to your true north… no matter what… you never lose sense of what is 100% north, what is right for you. Only 100% integrity counts as integrity… if you lose your true north under pressure… you might as well not have a true north.

Sam Reese asked Indra how she was able to convince PepsiCo to make a big strategic change when she first stepped up into the role as CEO, a move away from financial metrics… towards sustainability, towards investing in people for the long term. Indra shared that she keeps with her a poem that was written on a wall in her childhood school. She shared three lines from the poem…

“For men may come,
and men may go,
but I go on forever”

The poem is about a river… and the nature of its permanence beyond that of men.

Indra shared that she saw her role as CEO to build a company that would go on forever… not just for this generation of investors… or managers… or customers… but to be part of building an enterprise with true permanence.

How should CEOs be Measured?

In response to this question, Indra shared three metrics:

  1. Develop People
  2. Enduring Investments
  3. A Strategy that Endures

Just like the river of the poem, CEOs should be building something that will endure beyond this generation.

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