Yesterday, I had a coffee with my IESE Business School colleague Miquel Llado. We were celebrating his new book “Fall in Love with the Future” (available now in Spanish: Enamorarse del Futuro).
Miquel’s book shares valuable lessons on life and leadership from his career as CEO of Sara Lee, CEO of Bimbo, VP of Pepsico and his years of teaching at IESE. Miquel was elected Spain’s Best Executive 2000 by the Spain Business Association AED.
I’ve ordered 100 copies of the book to share with our Vistage CEO members in Spain.
Miquel shared a recent anecdote. A successful leader was sat in his office when a colleague came over to his desk.
Colleague: “Do you want my feedback?”
Leader: “No. I have no interest in your feedback. If I had listened to all the feedback that people threw at me all my life, I wouldn’t be a millionaire today.”
Miquel was shocked. All feedback is good feedback? or No?
Leader: “I am very careful about who’s feedback I am open to hearing. Not everyone’s feedback is useful… and many people have no idea what my actual objective is.”
Not all Feedback is Good Feedback (for you)
I heard this a few years back and I wrote it into my notebook at the time. “Evaluate feedback not on its face value, but on the quality of the life of the person giving you the feedback.”
If they have a life that inspires you, if they live to a set of standards and values that you aspire towards… then take the feedback seriously (whether it seems useful or not!).
How to Make Feedback Valuable
After I heard Miquel’s story, I thought “In my course we use feedback all the time, from everyone… is that something I should reevaluate?”
In my IESE courses, we make extensive use of peer feedback… from as many people as possible… but the first thing that the speaker must begin from is their statement of purpose. We call it Point X. “When I have finished speaking my audience will…” All the audience feedback is based on helping increase the power and the potency of the speaker’s words and actions towards consistently achieving that result.
If a speaker’s objective is “when I have finished speaking my audience will write their email address on a paper to commit to donate an hour to mentor an MBA student this week”… If nobody in the audience has written down their email, I am pretty harsh when feedback is “your speech was wonderful and I loved your story”. The purpose of speaker was not to be seen as wonderful. Their purpose was to get the audience to commit to giving 1 hour of their time. You can give an entertaining speech that totally fails to achieve its original objective.
In giving feedback, maybe I should be first interested in asking the person “What was your objective?” before I throw in my 2 cents. Often I have assumed their intent, but maybe I am incorrect.
When someone approaches me with feedback, maybe first I should ask “I’m intrigued, what do you think was my primary objective?”
Hitting the Bullseye
I shoot an arrow at a target and I miss. I ask a colleague for feedback. “I don’t like the colour yellow on your t-shirt… it is distracting” It is honest, sincere feedback, but it doesn’t help me hit the target next time.
I ran a webinar yesterday for IESE Business School. I answered 4 of the questions during the webinar, but there were a lot more questions that we didn’t have time to cover in any depth. I’ve copied the questions here and will give my brief answer to each.
How to Lead in times of Great Uncertainty
What can I do personally to engage myself, my leadership team and the people throughout my organization to respond positively to this crisis?
What was covered in the session…
My Personal Experience of Leading through a Crisis (2008)
What is a Crisis?
Communicating in a Crisis
How will you benefit from this session?
What do Leaders do?
Clarity of Vision
Certainty of Action
Leadership is a Choice
The Most Important Lesson I have learnt
Practice, Habits and Mindset
How to Shift my Mindset?
Where am I focussing?
How to Lead your people?
How to continue this conversation?
What are your views on the link between true leadership in troubled times and transparency/openness/truthfulness? – Antonio Millán
If your motivating energy comes from external validation (income, fame, prestige, status) it becomes very difficult for you to keep moving when we hit a downturn.
It is easier to lead during difficult times if your own set of core values and the way you live your life is based on inner honesty, and not on external validation. If your self-esteem is linked to your wealth, size of house, revenues, number of employees… it will be low just when the people around you most need you to provide hope. If your self esteem and peace of mind come from inside yourself… and you are not chasing external validation… the time where you have energy and are a beacon of hope will be when it is most needed.
Rafa Nadal’s motivation doesn’t come from winning… it comes from playing great tennis. If he wins, but didn’t give his best… he is frustrated. If he loses, but he knows that he gave all that was his to give this day on the court… he is satisfied and motivated for tomorrow.
Do you also wake up at 5 am? Is this the best time for sitting and looking internally? – Francisco Castaño
Answered during the webinar… I don’t wake up early.
It is not the time you wake up that matters, it is what you do with your waking hours that really counts. Dan Sullivan says “do 3 important things” each day… then rest. It will force you to get clear on what is really important… and not spend each day filling your hours with busy-ness.
How do you think that leadership styles will be shaped after the Coronavirus stage? – Adnan Falah
Greater trust in people. Rapid digital transformation of all industries. Offices will become meeting areas and clubhouses for the social life of the company, not for getting work done… which will be done more and more in remote.
Do companies urgently need a re-organization to cope with the change? (many working at home, social distancing, etc.) – Antonio Mata (Youtube)
Yes. More trust of people. More communication of why we work, what is important… and trusting people to be disciplined in focussing their time and energy on what matters.
The founder of Braun, Max Braun had a requirement that all communications in the company answered the 5 Questions: Who, Why, What, How, When. If any member of the organisation did not address each of the 5 questions he would be sanctioned by Max, and repeat offenders were asked to find another organisation for their work.
If leaders are able to communicate not just what they want done… but why it is important, what is the objective, who is involved and impacted, when it is needed to be completed – then people can be far more creative and resourceful than when then are just told what to do.
Have you considered what it is that makes Face2Face (IRL) unique, compared to the online encounter Face2Face? – Julio Bascur
Trust. This is my question. How do we build trust through video. I have little doubt after the last 3 weeks of zoom calls that video can be very effective for communication – where there is already a strong bond of trust between individuals. My question for myself… and for anyone who has answers (not speculation, but direct experiential evidence of it working) is how to build trust that allows me to challenge people and create disruptive tension when I teach or lead.
What is the relationship between leadership and public speaking? – Monika Borgers
Bringing together the resources to effect the change
1 is about thinking deeply about who you are and where you are going and how that purpose relates to the organisation and society in which you live. It is about surrounding yourself with mentors and colleagues that raise you up and expect the best from you, and listening and learning from their life experiences and perspectives.
2 is about communication in a way that engages others to make your change something that becomes their change. 2 is built on being trustworthy, listening to people, conversation, public speaking and disciplined action. Public speaking is a small, but important, part of the whole that is leadership.
Tell us about the tele-leader. How can you lead with a virtual team? – Santiago Lopez
Ever since Ronald Reagan in the US, federal leaders are “tele-leaders”. Few americans will have had any offline engagement with state and federal political leaders. I have never met Boris Johnson, but I have a sense of who he is as a person and what he stands for. I have never met Pedro Sanchez, but I listen to his speeches and am interested in his vision for the future of Spain and Europe. I have never met any of the European leaders, but my life is shaped greatly by their decisions in Brussels. I worked for almost a decade at Accenture, and I only spent 120 minutes (at work) in those 10 years in direct conversation (in a group of 150 employees) with the CEO or senior leadership. Tele-leadership has been a reality for most global corporations and most developed societies for at least 50 years.
How can you lead with a virtual team? We had a recent webinar with Miquel Llado for the Vistage members in Spain where he addressed how to lead as an e-CEO. Check out the webinar here: Miquel Llado, the e-CEO (in spanish).
Do you think that after the crisis, companies will look for staff in the same manner as before? – Alejandro Díaz
I’m not sure I have any competence to speak to this question. My thoughts… electronic tracking tools will become more normal, and more sophisticated. This is a two edged sword. We will be able to track individuals in much more detail – hours, what they are actually doing, where they spend their time… can leaders be trusted to use this data for the common good? Or will it be used to micro-manage and control?
Government policy has a big impact here. The spanish government has effectively banned layoffs at the moment… and required that companies continue to pay full salaries. What will happen the moment that this policy stops? Companies will be far more risk averse in hiring… and will make even more extensive use of short term, freelance and temporary contracts.
Can you recognise good leaders in politics these days? Why do certain controversial leaders are top on the polls these weeks? – Ricardo R.
A little bit of representational democratic philosophy… a politically elected official is the representative of the majority view… not someone given the freedom to express their own individual opinion.
As with all human endeavours, this is a messy process and most elected officials have their own beliefs and opinions which they allow to shape their national policy making.
The role of politicians is to represent, not to lead. A danger in our society is the expectation that me, the average citizen, can sit back and let the national elected officials take care of the situation… this is a dangerous posture. Democracy works when their is high levels of education about the types of decisions that nations need to take about social security, public health, defense, security, economy, protection of minority groups, public/private initiative… and high involvement of citizens in day to day political life (in our schools, in our streets, in our towns, in our countries, in our countries and in the world).
Gandhi was not a politically elected leader when he made his most significant impacts upon the world. Nelson Mandela was not a politically elected leader until well after his personal leadership and sacrifices had impacted the world. These great leaders of the past led from principles, created vast change and then only afterwards were elected as trusted representatives. We are in danger when our politicians never led as individuals, and we expect them to take leadership of major national decisions.
This pandemic has brought to light the inadequacies of “conventional” management thinking (i.e. hyperefficiency and byperlean organizations). How can a leader then challenge these concepts? – JJ Moreno
I was a product of the MBA efficiency school when I first began as an entrepreneur. I had bought into the idea a 60% debt 40% equity optimal capital structure and eliminating all redundancies in my businesses… then in 2008 I lived through the bankrupcy of my business… and 9 years of dealing with the debts.
Today I have very little debt and believe in the Microsoft adage of having 1 year of cash available at all times. I regret some of my youthful advice to business owners… that they could use more debt and less equity to grow or to sustain their business. That came from a young man who had never lived through a downturn in the economy. Now, I’ve lived through 2 downturns as a business leader… and I will have buffers, multiple sources of capabilities and lots of cash around me as I run my business.
This fundamentally comes down to whether I am running my business for the short term (to sell it, or to hit a particular measure of success) or I am acting as a steward of my institution for the very long run (what is called the Infinite Game by Simon Sinek amongst others).
Rajesh Setty shared some wisdom with me last year. One thing out of many that I remember was this idea: the most valuable compliment you can hear from another person.
I had the privilege of reading a draft of Rajesh’s newest book over the last month and I have written a recommendation that hopefully will appear when the book comes out later this year. Here’s some of his books and manifestos available as pdfs https://rajeshsetty.com/resources/books/
What is the best compliment you can hear?
How to Become worthy of this Compliment?
Be interested in them – help them get clarity on who they are and what they want, their strengths and passions
Connect people – put people in contact with others that share common passions, experiences
Let them help you – let them see that I have changed myself because of their impact on me
“The most valuable compliment is: I wish I had met you 10 years earlier”
I was in Boston to teach on the Entrepreneurs’ Organisation EMP (Entrepreneurial Masters Program) this week. MIT Endicott House is one of the most beautiful locations for leadership retreats and programs. I brought my drone to capture the scenery around the main buildings. You’ll see the drone shots right at the beginning of the video below.
Why Do We Need to Clarify our Purpose?
Dandapani was one of the speakers at the Entrepreneurs’ Organisation Masters Program event this week at MIT Endicott House, outside of Boston. Dandapani spent 10 years as a Hindu monk, meditating with his guru on the purpose of his life.
Dandapani spoke about the importance of consciously deciding what is important and what is not important in your life. Why?
This video is about paying attention in the process of learning, and trusting the process.
The Art of Learning: Attention without Judgement.
If I am judging everything, I am judging from today’s level of mastery… and blocking my progress. It is so difficult to remember that I don’t see more than what I am capable of seeing.
Shoshin is a chinese word that means “open mind” – a mind that is open to possibility rather than constantly analysing everything that is presented to me (through the prism of my current level of expertise).
This is an interview with John Zimmer, one of the leadership communications coaches who joins me regularly at IESE Business School for various programs. This week we are teaching the Executive MBA program.
John has a wonderful blog: Manner of Speaking. Four of the top posts at his blog are:
IESE Business School is a global business school offering MBA and Executive Education programs. Ranked #1 in world by FT, four years in a row (2014-2018). IESE has locations in Barcelona, Madrid, New York, Munich and Sao Paulo.
The Mission of IESE Business School
The mission of IESE is to develop and inspire business leaders who strive to make a deep, positive and lasting impact on the people, companies and society they serve.
“We want to educate leaders to whom we can entrust the future of business and society. For this reason, we develop the integrity, spirit of service, professional excellence and sense of responsibility of all those who take part in one of our programs.”
IESE Business School
IESE Business School activities are centered around three management axes:
general management approach
people-centered vision, with the ethics and social responsibility that entails. We believe that companies are, above all, communities of people who work better in atmospheres of respect and trust.
Nothing brings more opportunity into your life than speaking well in public.
I have been teaching for 16 years on many leadership programs at IESE Business School. Today I’m sharing a playlist of a series of videos that we put together as an introduction for participants of future courses.
There are 10 videos in the full playlist with a total duration of about 60 minutes.
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