Waldemar Schmidt, past-CEO of ISS, a 250,000 employee global facilities services business.
Currently on the Boards of 28 companies, London Business School Advisory Board, Professor at Copenhagen Business School, Executive in Residence at IMD.
Author of 4 books including “The Job of the CEO“. Note: all book Royalties are donated to the Waldemar Schmidt Scholarship for (Brazilian) students at the international MBA Programme at Copenhagen Business School.
Highlights from the Interview
1:49 What is the Job of the CEO?
3:18 Know Products, Numbers, Customers
4:30 Management and Leadership
5:35 Taking Good Decisions
12:40 The Calendar of the CEO
15:07 What do you do after being a CEO?
16:45 Why did Waldemar step back from the CEO role?
18:10 Advice to a 55 year old ex-CEO
19:55 Networking as a CEO
21:18 How to Build Relationships with top Head Hunters
23:20 130 dilemmas that CEOs will face in life and business
23:50 The worst enemy of great leadership: Arrogance
A leader should be interested in developing 2 competencies in the people within their organisation:
Good Decision Making (to take good choices about how to use the resources of the organisation to achieve strategic plans)
Influencing Skills (because if they cannot influence their peers, people will have to involve you every time…)
If your team doesn’t have #1 they are taking poor decisions. If your team doesn’t have #2 they cannot execute without your support (you will be sucked in to every initiative).
In order to take Good Decisions, you need to ask great questions.
Most people ask few questions and rapidly jump to a solution. Great decision makers ask many questions and get many perspectives before they commit to a decision. Here’s a set of great questions…
This set of questions was inspired by the Global Digital Citizen Foundation and by Vistage Issue Processing where we help leaders develop the ability to ask great questions to help leaders think more deeply and see new perspectives, clarify objectives and take disciplined effective action.
The Ultimate Guide to Great Questions for Critical Thinking
Divided into who, what, where, when, why, how…
…benefits from this?
…is this harmful to?
…makes decisions about this?
…is most directly affected?
…have you also heard discuss this?
…would be the best person to consult?
…else has overcome a similar challenge?
…will be the key people in this?
…deserves recognition for this?
…is the impact on you?
…is the impact on those close to you?
…are the strengths/weaknesses?
…is another perspective?
…is another alternative?
…would be a counter-argument?
…is the best/worst case scenario?
…is the most/least important?
…can we do to make a positive change?
…is getting in the way of taking action?
…else would we see this problem showing up in your life?
…else have you overcome this type of challenge?
…are there similar situations?
…is there the most need for this?
…would this be the greatest problem?
…can we get more information?
…do we go for help with this?
…will this idea take us?
…are the areas for improvement?
…is this acceptable/unacceptable?
…would this benefit you?
…would this cause a problem?
…is the best time to take action?
…will we know we’ve succeeded?
…has this played a part in your past?
…can we expect this to change?
…should we ask for help with this?
…is this a problem/challenge?
…is it relevant to your goals?
…is this the best/worst scenario?
…are people influenced by this?
…should people know about this?
…has it been this way for so long?
…is there a need for this today?
…is this similar to _____?
…does this disrupt things?
…do we know the truth about this?
…does this benefit you/us/others?
…does this harm you/us/others?
…do we see this playing out in the future?
…can we help you?
[Edit: this poem was shared by my Dad upon receiving this post]
I Keep Six Honest Serving Men Rudyard Kipling I KEEP six honest serving-men (They taught me all I knew); Their names are What and Why and When And How and Where and Who. I send them over land and sea, I send them east and west; But after they have worked for me, I give them all a rest.
I let them rest from nine till five, For I am busy then, As well as breakfast, lunch, and tea, For they are hungry men. But different folk have different views; I know a person small— She keeps ten million serving-men, Who get no rest at all!
She sends’em abroad on her own affairs, From the second she opens her eyes— One million Hows, two million Wheres, And seven million Whys!
You’re doing everything right at work, taking all the right advice, but you’re just not moving up. Why?
Susan Colantuono shares a simple, surprising piece of advice you might not have heard before quite so plainly. This talk, while aimed at an audience of women, has universal takeaways — for men and women, new graduates and mid-career workers.
Business, Strategic and Financial Acumen
Susan’s argument is that mentorship and organisation-wide leadership development have a tendency to focus on the personal effectiveness and organisation leadership aspects, but do not work with women to take full charge of their Business, Strategic and Financial acumen.
What are Business, Strategic and Financial Acumen?
Business Acumen: Understand your business, where it is going, what role you and you work play in it. Do you do your job well, or do you contribute to the success of the organisation?
Strategic Acumen: Look outside the organisation and see opportunities and risks. Do you take time to see the big picture within which your company operates? How are demographics and major political changes going to impact your organisation? Are you part of industry associations?
Financial Acumen: Aware of the finances of the organisation and flagging risks and highlighting opportunities to impact the numbers Can you read a balance sheet? Can you rapidly draw up a simple income statement of your division? Do you know the EBITDA, the contribution margin, the CAGR of the different products in your business?
Jim Collins delivered the Keynote at this year’s Vistage ChairWorld meeting to over 800 participants.
About Jim Collins
Jim Collins is a student and teacher of what makes great companies tick, and a Socratic advisor to leaders in the business and social sectors. He has authored 6 books that have sold more than 10 million copies worldwide. His books include:
Good to Great which examines why some companies make the leap to superior results,
Built to Last, which explores how some leaders build companies that remain visionary for generations;
Great by Choice, which is about thriving in chaos—why some do, and others don’t.
Conor’s Video Summary of Jim Collins 12 Questions
Jim Collins shared 12 questions that come out of his work over the last 25 years.
These are my notes and reflections from his Keynote address.
The 4 part video series below gives a short overview of each of the 12 questions.
#1 strive for excellence
The first step is a conscious decision on the part of leadership to decide for excellence, to decide to build an enduring great company. Often leaders are enduring great individuals, but that doesn’t make for an enduring great company. Leaders must put excellence in the company over “success” in their own individual life. (This doesn’t mean that they give up a good life, but that they are willing to pay the price of leading an Enduring Great Company.)
Differences between level 5 and level 4 leader?
Humility. This is key to level 5. Deep genuine personal humility combined with a brutal will, a fierce resolve directed at something that is not about them
Leadership: People follow when they have the choice to not follow… otherwise it is just power.
Charisma – not necessary for Level 5 leadership (“never confuse personality with leadership”)
The author of this blog with Jim Collins, best selling author of Good to Great and Built to Last, at Vistage ChairWorld, January 2019
#2 First who, then what.
Right people, then trust them to figure out where the bus is going. Great vision without great people is irrelevant. Single most important talent: select great people for the key seats. Nothing is more important that key seats filled with great people.
#3 confront the brutal facts
What brutal facts must we confront? No opinions.
#4 Hedgehog concept
Fox knows many things, hedgehog knows 1 Fox loves complexity, hedgehog loves simple Intersection of Passion, best in world, drives economic engine Big is not equal to great (think restaurants- if it were to disappear it would leave an unfillable hole)
#5 20 mile march
Driving the flywheel “Which push made the difference?” None… Cumulative effort consistently over long time Flywheel- causal links between, inevitability “I admire Nike” “what do Nike do? Products so great that pros wear them” great products + social proof Execution 1-10… flywheel accelerator at quality of execution of lowest quality of execution Best investment strategy “a highly undiversified investment where you are right” “We can make it up on a good day” fallacy. Be super careful of overextension leading to missing your March Cycle across USA… booked the hotels ahead of time: have to make it, and prepare for tomorrow and the next day “Part of the task of helping others is to be really hard on them… with love”
#6 bullets, then cannonballs
Innovation small, then massive support of small wins. Scale the right innovation. Scaling innovation is more important than innovation. Fail: Not enough bullets Bullets but no guts to fire cannonball Untargeted cannonballs
#7 don’t die
The first step of moving from good to great to built to last is “don’t die” I am terrified by good times. Complacency! Be properly terrified all the time. Fortune 500 85% carnage rate.
Productive paranoia:Prepare for the storms (cash to assets ratio 3-10 times greater)
The only mistakes you can learn from are the ones you survive
#8 clock building or time telling?
Idea-> biz-> great company = enduring success
“The genius with a thousand helpers model is not building a great company”
Shift from time telling (individual level) to clock building (at a company level). Every leader can grow to be the leader of a bigger, greater company. Don’t answer questions with answers… help people find their own answers, their own resourcefulness.
Steve Jobs 2.0 – had a yoda who helped him create a culture of geniuses. What’s your leadership 2.0?
#9 preserve the core, stimulate progress
Yin & yang Core set of unchanging values and purpose, constant progress towards your north star
#10 What’s our BHAG?
Time frame 10-25 years… anything less is just base camp
“The best people want to do the hard things”
A Good BHAG frightens mediocrity away. Test of BHAG – does it repel some people?
#11 return on Luck
You didn’t cause
Get good at making the most of when luck happens. How do you handle the unexpected? Use both good luck & bad luck (crisis allows change) to improve.
#12 Stop Doing list
Only doing is not discipline. True discipline is about what not to do first. What should you not be doing?
Peter Drucker – age 65 had written only 1/3 of his books. Age 86 wrote 10 more books.
“You will survive, you will probably succeed… The question Mr Collins is how to be useful”
Acting solely in the interests of shareholders, not in the interests of the company as a whole
Lack of independent judgement – falling into Groupthink – Not having strength in your own convictions, not willing to be a minority of one.
Not seeing the risks facing the business
Failing to stand up to dominant or highly influential board members. As a board members you have “joint and several liability” you are both jointly and individually responsible for all board decision making. If you see risks, bring up those risks.
Making promises you can’t keep – not maintaining integrity in all you do and say
Not empowering employees – forgetting the power of a few encouraging words from you to any individual employee
Gary Burnison, the CEO of leading global headhunters Korn Ferry recently shared a tool for understanding the current health of your career, the Career Momentum Index (CMI).
Gary says that, in our careers, we also need to honestly know “Where am I right now?”. For a healthy body, we can check out our heart rate, our body mass index (BMI), cholesterol, blood pressure, etc. For careers, Korn Ferry have the Career Momentum Index (CMI).
Do you have Career Momentum?
Are you engaged in your current job? Do you wake up every morning, ready to go, or do you hit the snooze button–literally and figuratively?
Does your boss recognize your contribution? When was the last time your boss acknowledged what you did? How well did you do on your last performance review–have you even had one in the last 12 months?
Are you considered indispensable? Are you the go-to person for your boss and the team who does whatever it takes it get things done?
When was the last time you were promoted? Two years ago? Five years? Longer?
When was the last time you learned something new in your job? Are you stretched and growing, or is it the “same old, same old” every day?
Last night I hit a goal that has taken 3 years. Back in 2016 in Washington on the EO Global Leadership Academy, together with Rich Mulholland and Christophe Magnussen, we each committed to get serious about video creation.
“An artist never finishes a work, he abandons it.”
I thrive on interaction. This blog gives me a short term feedback as I write. I can hit publish after 15 to 20 minutes and immediately get responses.
I’ve consistently failed to write a book because I am addicted to the short term feedback of blog comments, of emails, of youtube videos… I’ve never been able to commit to the 3 year process of writing without “likes” and comments.
The question for me: is it still important to me to write a book?