As the minutes ticked away in the U.S.’ decisive World Cup match against Algeria, U.S. superstar Landon Donovan was determined not to permit a repeat of the U.S. 2006 World Cup disaster, when the Americans went home without a single victory. As his teammates felt their 2010 dreams slipping away, Donovan knew the soccer hopes of the nation rested on his shoulder. This time he could not fail.
As the U.S. saw chance after chance denied by the tenacious Algerian defenders and a lone goal disallowed on a missed call by the referee, even the neutral announcers declared the U.S. deserved to win. This time around an older and wiser Landon Donovan knew deserving success and achieving it are two different things.
Taking an outlet pass from his keeper, he raced down the hundred meter field, looking more like a track star than the crafty midfielder he is, and played the ball forward to teammate Jozi Altidore. When the Algerian keeper pushed away yet another shot, Donovan didn’t hold back. Moving forward toward the goal, he pounced on the loose ball and drove into the back of the net. Pandemonium erupted in the stadium and throughout the U.S. as the entire team piled on top of Donovan’s prostrate body.
When the game ended two minutes later, Donovan buried his head in tears. All he could say to the announcer was “We worked so hard the last four years, we couldn’t let this opportunity slip away.”
What enabled Landon Donovan to rise to this leadership moment? The answers can be found in the disappointments he has suffered from the 2006 letdown, to disappointments playing in Germany and a failed marriage in 2009.
Since he was a teenager, soccer watchers have seen Donovan’s potential to become America’s first world-class soccer player and fulfill the dreams of American soccer lovers. After a solid debut as a 20-year-old on the 2002 U.S. World Cup team that reached the quarter-finals, Donovan was expected to lead the Americans to even greater success in 2006.
It never happened. More than any sporting event in the world, the World Cup is an intense national competition that requires both mental and physical toughness. In 2006, Donovan hadn’t learned what that required. Nor was he prepared to step up to the leadership role expected by his teammates and his country.
Needing a win against Ghana to advance to the Round of 16, the U.S. instead lost the match and was eliminated. Donovan and his teammates earned only a single point in three games. Donovan himself had a rough ride, as he went scoreless and was criticized by U.S. fans for a soft, directionless performance.
Things didn’t get any easier for Donovan after the Cup. He endured difficult stints playing professional soccer in Germany where he only occasionally saw time on the pitch. He endured a difficult breakup with his wife and additional professional strife when news broke of a rift with world-renowned David Beckham, Donovan’s L.A. Galaxy teammate.
But Donovan did more than just “play through” the tough times. He dug deep into the root cause of his problems, and used his self-exploration to grow as a player, a person, and a leader. He even took up meditation to become more introspective.
Donovan told FanHouse.com that his recent struggles made him realize that all-important leadership lesson: the buck stops with him. “I am in control of what I do,” Donovan said, “and before, I thought different things determined how I would play or how I would respond or how I would act on the field.”
That sort of take-charge leadership style has propelled Donovan to new heights. He received the MLS MVP award in 2009 and won the championship with the Galaxy. On the world stage last week, as the U.S. stared at a 2-0 deficit at halftime against Slovenia, Donovan’s new calm and resolve showed through. In the third minute of the second half, he ignited a U.S. rally with a perfectly slotted ball from an impossible angle. When the U.S.’ winning goal was called by another erroneous call, he shrugged it off, saying, “We will focus on what we can control.”
Landon Donovan has learned from the searing pain of his personal crucibles. Rather than deny his disappointments, instead he used them to become a more mature leader, ready for the burdens of leadership placed on his shoulders by his teammates and his country. As the pressure mounted, he played through fatigue and disappointment and somehow kept going at a tireless rate.
When the opportunity presented itself, he didn’t flinch or choke. As he said, “in that instant, time just stopped,” no doubt as he recognized the chance to overcome the pain of the past and achieve his goal. Afterward he even thanked his ex-wife on national television for her help.
Was Donovan lucky? Not exactly, unless you believe (as I do) in Oprah Winfrey’s definition of luck as “preparation meeting opportunity.”
Now Donovan leads the U.S. team against Ghana on Saturday in the playoff round, with a chance to revenge the difficult 2006 loss. He is a battle-tested leader, who has learned to share the pressure, excitement, and joy of the World Cup with his teammates and now-loyal fans. As the Italian and French superstars head for home, Landon Donovan has learned from his crucible and is ready to lead with confidence.
The Millennial generation -- those offspring of the baby boomers -- are not short on the "three D’s": dedication, drive, and delivery.
Young adults today study harder and more often, engage in more community service, participate in greater numbers of extracurricular activities, and hold a more optimistic outlook on the future than any other generation in modern history. Lauded by parents and pundits alike as beacons of youthful optimism that shine in uncertain economic times, these future leaders are eager for leadership opportunities and thirsty to impress.
Having grown up on Twitter and Facebook, today’s youth respect their communities and recognize the importance of staying engaged. As the 2008 elections showed, Millennials proved they could walk the walk and flocked to the voting polls, many for the first time. Moreover, Millennials appear to have a high moral compass. Case in point: youth from around the nation responded to the earthquake disaster in Haiti with food drives led on Facebook, service trips, and fundraising efforts via email campaigns. A number of my HBS students embarked on trips themselves to lend a hand in subsequent months, writing blogs and sharing their experience with others back home.
Millennials seem eager to stay in touch, any way they can, double-timing on iPads and Smartphones. They have grown up in a culture where the defining theme is "velocity," both in terms of the rate of change and the pace of information. Consumer and behavioral trends shift monthly, technology evolves constantly, and information flows with sometimes overwhelming abandon, saturating Millennials with 24/7 political newsfeeds and social networks.
This hyper connectivity certainly has many useful purposes -- workplace productivity, community engagement, and civic mindedness, among others. But does it come at a price?
Despite their collective activity level and propensity for community engagement, this generation may be at risk of becoming too accustomed to constant exposure, of becoming too quick to say: "Got it - on to the next one." In charging ahead, are Millennials failing to take time to focus and reflect? Are they so caught up in keeping up that they will ignore vital real-life lessons that are needed to gain the wisdom to stay pointed toward their True North?
Over the next decade, Millennials will be asked to step into important leadership roles and take part in helping to resolve the complex issues facing the U.S., and the globe. As Timothy Egan notes in last week’s NY Times, they are the ones who will have to live with the consequences of actions taken today. From foreign policy to the environment to international economic issues, Millennials will need to adopt a long-term sustainable view. Who wants to create a startup, invent a new product, serve in politics, or generate a new business model 20 years if our society is selfish, partisan, and dysfunctional?
To develop the insights and the intuition required to address these daunting hurdles with experienced perspectives and informed temperaments, Millennials must commit to their long-term leadership development. Such a commitment will prepare them for the more daunting challenges that will inevitably come their way. Developing the qualities of emotional intelligence like self-awareness, introspection, empathy, and empowerment will determine their future success, but this requires the time and commitment to reflection and introspection.
Here are some of my ideas on how to develop these qualities:
- For my family and me the most important step we have taken is to meditate daily. Back in 1975, my wife dragged me to a meditation retreat “kicking and screaming,” and I have meditated twenty minutes twice a day ever since. My sons – Jeff, a business executive with Novartis, and Jon, a head-and-neck surgeon – both meditate regularly. Meditation has enabled me to find calm, creativity, and clarity, in spite of leading a high-stress life.
- A second approach is to take time for yourself to reflect. There are many ways to do this – through prayer, journaling, jogging, yoga, or just sitting quietly. The important thing here is to turn off all the instant communications and just be with yourself.
- A very different approach involves having a leadership development group (LDG) – six to eight people with whom you meet regularly. Since 1975, I have been part of group of guys that meets weekly to discuss the important issues of life and to share our challenges and joys. My wife and I are also part of a couples group that has met monthly since 1983. These two groups have been a godsend in my life, providing support in difficult times, deeply honest feedback, and wisdom that have helped me in so many ways.
- A fourth idea is to get involved in service to your community, being engaged with diverse groups of people whose life experiences are entirely different from your own. Community service, especially in leading volunteers, is an excellent way to develop skills like empowering others to lead. You learn a great deal about yourself through helping others and understanding their perspectives about life. Service opens you up to developing compassion and empathy for others, especially those less fortunate that you.
It is important to build habits and practices like these into your daily life at a relatively young age. You may be surprised at how you stick with them for decades. At first, you may feel like you don’t have time for them. That was my reaction, but now I realize that these practices make me much more efficient in using my time, more compassionate in dealing with other people, and ultimately more effective in leadership roles. Most important of all, I feel better about myself and my life.
What’s not to like about that? It’s the best way I know to stay on the course of your True North.
This morning I was a guest on Minnesota Public Radio's Mid-Morning show with Kerry Miller. Chirs Pinney, Director Research and Policy at The Center for Corporate Citizenship at the Carroll School of Management at Boston College, and I discussed business ethics and the Gulf oil disaster. Below is a link to the audio from that discussion:
The activist investor Carl C. Icahn continues to challenge the biotechnology industry. His latest target is Genzyme, one of the most successful companies in this innovative field, where he is seeking four seats on its board.
This is Mr. Icahn’s sixth biotechnology target, and these moves epitomize the struggle between investors like Mr. Icahn, who advocate maximizing short-term shareholder value, and an industry in which enormous investments and extended time frames are required to create long-term shareholder value.
Genzyme is the biotech industry’s second-largest company, with revenues of $4.5 billion and a market capitalization of about $13 billion. Previously, Mr. Icahn has taken on smaller companies: Biogen-Idec, MedImmune, ImClone Systems, Amylin Pharmaceuticals and Enzon Pharmaceuticals.
The biotechnology industry is one of America’s most promising and innovative, and one in which this country has a clear competitive advantage. It has benefited from billions of dollars in government-sponsored research at the National Institutes of Health and leading research universities. Even so, new biotechnology drugs take 12 to 15 years to bring to market, with the attendant risks of high failure rates in research trials.
Early pioneers like Genentech and Amgen created breakthrough drugs that saved millions of lives while amassing shareholder value of $98 billion for Genentech, after its sale to Roche, and $50 billion for Amgen. Both companies spent more than a decade investing billions of dollars in research before marketing their pioneering products.
In contrast, investors like Mr. Icahn believe shareholders should maximize their short-term value by selling biotech companies to pharmaceutical companies hungry for new drugs. In recent years, the large pharmaceutical companies have struggled to create life-saving drugs in their own laboratories and are often reluctant to tackle the complex diseases that the biotechnology industry has pursued.
What are the implications of these shareholder challenges? No doubt, investors like Mr. Icahn can yield quick profits for investors, but they come with a potentially high cost. In the end, will there be a biotechnology industry capable of the long-term investments required to thrive?
Mr. Icahn made his first move in biotechnology in 2002 with an attempted takeover of ImClone Systems. Following an insider trading scandal that sent the company’s chief executive, Sam Waksal, to prison along with his close friend, Martha Stewart, Mr. Icahn won a 2006 proxy contest to elect four members of ImClone’s board. The interim chief executive, Joseph Fischer, was replaced by Dr. Alex Denner, a genetics professor at Harvard Medical School. In 2008, the company was sold to the pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly for $6.5 billion.
MedImmune was next in line in 2007. After a short battle, the company was purchased byAstraZeneca for $15.6 billion.
When Mr. Icahn focused on Biogen-Idec in 2007, its board offered the company for sale. When no bids came in, the sale was withdrawn. In 2008, Mr. Icahn again challenged Biogen’s board and its chief executive, James Muller, and began an unsuccessful proxy contest. A second proxy contest succeeded last June in electing two of Mr. Icahn’s candidates to the Biogen board, including Dr. Denner. Mr. Muller resigned in January as Mr. Ichan won board approval to appoint two additional board members.
Meanwhile, two smaller biotechnology companies, Enzon and Amylin, have also experienced Mr. Icahn’s challenges. Since he urged the spinoff of Enzon’s biotechnology business in 2007, Mr. Icahn has been successful in adding two directors and Dr. Denner was elected chairman of Enzon’s board. At Amylin, its chief executive, Joseph Cook, was forced out in 2009 after Mr. Icahn won two board seats.
Now Mr. Icahn has shifted his focus to Genzyme and its longtime chief executive, Henri A. Termeer. Over the past quarter century, Mr. Termeer has built a formidable company respected for its portfolio of drugs. A year ago, Genzyme’s Cambridge., Mass., plant encountered contamination problems and Mr. Termeer immediately shut down the entire facility.
Last fall, Mr. Icahn purchased 4.9 percent stake in Genzyme. In May, he began a proxy contest to replace four Genzyme board members, including Mr. Termeer, with candidates including himself, Dr. Denner and Richard Mulligan, a Biogen board member, along with one other nominee.
Mr. Termeer isn’t sitting still. He has recruited the activist investor Ralph Whitworth to Genzyme’s board and granted him the right to appoint another director. The company is also buying back $2 billion in stock and spinning off certain business units.
Genzyme is also promoting its blood cancer drug Campath for multiple sclerosis in competition with Biogen and challenging Dr. Denner’s and Mr. Mulligan’s potential conflicts of interest in serving simultaneously on the Genzyme and Biogen boards.
These differences will come to a head at Genzyme’s shareholders meeting on June 16, but the longer-term issues will remain. The industry’s scientific approach to drug development has saved many thousands of lives and created enormous long-term shareholder value. The real question is whether the biotechnology industry with its extended time horizons will continue to make the long-term investments required to pursue these life-saving drugs.
Originally Posted on the New York Times' DealBook
Over the past few months there have been a number of books released reviewing, analyzing, and discussing the past two years of economic and governmental change. Here are some of the best of those.
On the Financial Crisis:
How We Got through it:
Two well researched books using first-hand accounts of the 2008 crisis as it unfolded. They both read like fast-paced, exciting novels – except everything here is both real and accurate.
- “Too Big to Fail” by Andrew Ross Sorkin
- “On the Brink” by Ex-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson
How We Get out of it:
- “The Road from Ruin” by Matthew Bishop and Michael Green – a thoughtful set of ideas of how to get out of our financial peril
- “Too Big to Save” by Robert Pozen, another HBS colleague – a scholarly approach to prevent future crises
Best book on 2008 Presidential campaign:
- “Game Change” by Mark Halperin and John Heileman – fast-paced, inside account of the most dramatic Presidential campaign of our lifetime
- “Winning in Emerging Markets” by Tarun Khanna and Krishna Palepu – excellent new book by my HBS colleagues about succeeding in building businesses in the emerging markets
America finds itself confronting a host of problems – from environmental crises to reform on Wall Street, Congress has no shortage of pressing issues to tackle. One issue stands out to me, however, as particularly important in the effort to attract America’s next generation of global leaders: America needs immigration reform for legal immigrants.
Ever since September 11, 2001, America has been making life extremely difficult for legal immigrants who want to stay in this country, start companies and contribute to the growth of the U.S. economy. In recent years all the focus has been on the 13 million illegal immigrants currently in the country.
From 19th century industrialists like Scottish-American Andrew Carnegie to Yahoo’s Jerry Yang, PepsiCo’s Indra Nooyi, Google’s Sergey Brin, or Harvard Business School’s recently nominated dean Nitin Nohria, immigrants continue to occupy important positions of leadership in creating and driving the next generation of American businesses to success. Many foreign students come to the U.S. to study at our great universities and stay to study medicine, science or business in America’s leading graduate schools. Yet they are sent back home as their student visas expire. It pains me to see so many of my Harvard Business School students who are sent back to China, India, Africa and many other countries and watch them found dynamic countries there instead of doing so in the U.S.
Leaders who come to America from abroad play a key role in driving companies forward – they fuse together ideas from different cultures, help to disseminate best practices from across the globe, and import new models of innovation from abroad. Moreover, the multinational business networks that these immigrants bring with them can also enable companies to tap into new supply chains and access customers in previously unreachable markets, key competitive advantages in an increasingly interconnected economy.
New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, who writes frequently about immigration reform, hits the nail on the head when he describes immigration as a key generator of new and innovative ideas, products, and people that infuse and enrich America’s business community. Critical outside perspective, along with knowledge of foreign markets and best practices outside our borders, are keys to successfully navigating today’s global marketplace.
Politicians would do well to focus on immigration reform for these legal immigrants by expanding the H1b visas for graduates of American graduates, rather than mixing these straightforward issues with the highly complex issues like border security and amnesty. Congress needs to pay particular attention to the following core issues in considering immigration reform:
Retaining students. America’s higher education system is unrivaled in attracting the world’s top engineers, doctors, lawyers, and businessmen to study at its universities. A reformed system should ensure that those who come to the US to study and earn advanced degrees receive a fast-track to citizenship.
Increasing the number of skilled worker visas. Increasing the ceiling on the number of H-1B visas for skilled workers ensures that America continues to attract the top set of leaders. A 2006 study by Duke University found that immigrant entrepreneurs in the United States founded 25.3% of all engineering and technology firms over the past decade, generating an estimated $52 billion (in 2005 dollars) in sales and creating 450,000 jobs. Today only 65,000 H-1B visas are issued per year, despite some 163,000 applications in 2008. These rejected applications represent almost 100,000 workers every year who could dynamically contribute to our nation’s economy and help launch the next generation of entrepreneurial start-ups.
Involve the business community. With such high stakes in an immigration reform bill, Congress needs to ensure that all voices are heard in the debate, particularly those of the business community. To this end, major companies like Cisco, Genentech, and Coca-Cola have formed a coalition, Compete America, to advocate for immigration reform on behalf of the business community.
The bid to attract the world’s top intellectual capital is escalating. Australia, Canada just completed immigration reform overhauls to boost their attractiveness to would-be migrants to the United States. Moreover, countries like China, India, and South Korea, long exporters of their country’s top talent, are fast becoming major centers of innovation and reversing the diaspora of intellectual capital. While ideas like the recently introduced “Start-Up Visa Act” in the Senate are positive starting points on the road to reform, America urgently needs to retool its immigration system to retain and attract the next generation of entrepreneurs and leaders. Without reform, we could very well face a future void of the next Intel, Sun Microsystems, or Google.
I have been traveling quite a bit this first part of the year and it’s a guarantee that I’ll over pack on reading. I wanted to share some of the books that continue to make the packing list. The first set I want to share looks at leadership and personal development.
- “Reorganize for Resilience” by Ranjay Gulati – organizing for customer-focus, based on 600 in-person interviews
- “Love Leadership” by John Hope Bryant – straight talk from founder of Operation Hope, leader on financial literacy for everyone
The books below are to enhance your development as a leader and a human being.
- “Ethics for the New Millenium” by the Dalai Lama – brilliant insights into the nature of humanity and how society should develop
- “Emotional Intelligence” by Daniel Goleman – developing your EQ, not just your IQ
- “On Becoming a Leader” by Warren Bennis – classic book on leadership by the world’s best leadership scholar
- “5 Minds for the Future” by Howard Gardner – on the developing of our minds, tailored to our unique ways of approaching life
- “The Sermon on the Mount” by Emmet Fox – the spiritual classic on the greatest sermon ever delivered – and the most relevant to our 21st century lives
- “MBA Oath,” by Max Anderson and Peter Escher – about the need for business leaders to have a professional oath comparable to medical doctors and lawyers.
Minnesotans have long recognized the value of individual freedom and the merits of initiative and creativity. Yet we live by the collective -- our schools, our security, our environment, our parks and lakes, our safety. We know we cannot thrive without it, either nationally or locally. But many people resent its intrusion into their lives and its claim on their earnings.
The political parties in recent years have sharply divided: to the left -- in support of the collective, largely through government actions and laws -- and to the right -- in support of the rights and freedoms of individuals. Those of us in the middle are in "no man's land," trapped in the crossfire between left and right and between increasingly strident voices in politics and in the media.
Most people desire both individual freedom and the support of the collective, even if they don't articulate it that way.
There is a better way that offers the promise of enhancing individual initiatives while providing "common" benefits for all citizens. I call it "community-building through collaboration and creativity."
Last October, Indiana University Prof. Elinor Ostrom became the first woman to win the Nobel Prize in economic sciences. The Nobel Committee cited her breakthrough research in the management of common resources like forests, fisheries and oil fields.
Commonly pooled resources
In her book "Governing the Commons," Ostrom outlines a thoughtful approach that she labels "commonly pooled resources." Her work stands in sharp contrast to several Nobel laureate economists of the past decade who have argued that people only operate in their self-interest.
Originally Posted in The Star Tribune on May 16, 2010
Harvard President Drew Faust’s announcement that Nitin Nohria will become Dean of Harvard Business School is indeed welcome news. President Faust has made a visionary choice in Nohria. He is a transformative leader who has the depth and insight to understand the role of business education in developing global business leaders who recognize that their responsibilities transcend immediate requirements for short-term results.
Nohria is a scholar, a leader, and a remarkable human being who represents the best of Harvard Business School. He has mentored more faculty members, myself included, than anyone can count. His research has centered on critical questions such as what drives human motivation and what shapes leaders and sustained achievement.
Nitin and I have taught together for seven years, first in the new required course, Leadership and Corporate Accountability, then in the Seminar for New CEOs, and most recently in the new elective course, Authentic Leadership Development. During our years as colleagues, Professor Nohria has consistently taught students and fellow faculty members the principles and practice of authentic leadership.
American business is emerging from a crisis of leadership. After a lost decade in which many leaders focused on maximizing short-term shareholder value, the American economy needs to refocus on reestablishing the trust in business as a sector that contributes to the well-being of society. Nohria will lead the new generation of leadership at the helm of Harvard Business School during a period in which the business world cries out for authentic leaders focused on creating long-term sustainable value.
Nohria’s remarks upon the announcement are characteristic of his leadership: “With business education at an inflection point, we must strive to equip future leaders with the competence and character to address emerging global business and social challenges.” He is focused on what matters most: developing authentic leaders who can empower thousands of others to lead. The world needs innovative leaders who can master the complexities of the global economy.
Congratulations to Nitin, and the faculty, administration, and classes of future leaders at Harvard Business School who will join with him in transforming business education and leadership to create a better society.
Harvard Business Review is hosting a six-week long blog series on how leadership will look in the future. They've brought together many different perspectives and conversations on the topic of leadership and posted them on their site. These conversations will help shape the upcoming Leadership Colloquium, “Imagining the Future of Leadership,” that will be hosted by Nitin Nohria, Rakesh Kharana, and Scott Snook at Harvard Business School in June 11-12. This symposium is a great opportunity to bring together a broad range of ideas on leadership.
My contribution to the conversation looks at New 21st Century Leaders. Some of these thoughts and conversations steamed from my March Wall Street Journal - "The New Leaders: Collaborative, Not Commanding."
For the full article:
Harvard Business Review - The New 21st Century Leaders