Insightful article from Emily Peck for Huffington Post in which I'm honored to be quoted, posted July 20, 2015:
After spending decades as Wall Street darlings, arrogant business leaders are out of fashion. The new hotness for CEOs these days? Displaying humility, self-awareness and honesty.
In this new world, a good leader doesn’t brag about his "TEN BILLION DOLLARS," as Donald Trump's campaign did last week. A good leader doesn’t rank his workers and fire the bottom 10 percent each year, as revered General Electric CEO Jack Welch did back in the day. The new CEOs project humility. They apologize when they screw up. They admit when they don’t know something, and they empathize with their workers and treat them decently.
“You have to be real and authentic. It requires having strong character,” the former CEO of Medtronic, Bill George, told The Huffington Post. “The Donald Trumps of the world, they make it in politics, not business.”
Since declaring his intention to seek the Republican nomination for president last month, Trump has been out on the campaign trail, touting his leadership skills and experience. But for the most part, the business world has actually moved past his autocratic style. The shift has happened gradually over the past few years, in part because the financial crisis bred a deep mistrust for overly confident leaders and in part because social media has made it much easier to call out a boss for arrogance or wrongdoing.
“The world has become more transparent, and the bar is being raised for who the leader is, not just what they know how to do,” said Fred Kiel, a former chief executive who now runs a consulting firm focused on leadership.
Highly regarded CEOs are nearly six times as likely as poorly regarded CEOs to be considered humble, according to a survey of 1,700 executives across the globe (minus CEOs) released in March by Weber Shandwick, a public relations firm. Weber Shandwick also found more than 50 articles that mentioned “CEO humility” in 2014 -- about twice the average number for each year going back a decade or so.
Humility in this case shouldn’t be confused with shyness, said Leslie Gaines-Ross, a public relations strategist at Weber Shandwick who advises executives on how to enhance their reputations. Rather, it’s about being more thoughtful and introspective. “It used to be that there were many more celebrity CEOs,” she said. “Now, most are more intent on building a good place to work than being stars.”
Consider the first line of Satya Nadella’s email to employees on his first day as CEO of Microsoft: “Today is a very humbling day for me.”
Nadella, a longtime Microsoft worker, has rapidly changed the culture at the company since becoming chief executive last year. He's fostered more teamwork and collaboration among employees who were once pitted against each other through a Hobbesian performance review structure. He’s forged partnerships with companies once considered bitter rivals.
He’s also quick to acknowledge when he’s made a mistake -- as he did last year after telling women to have faith in the system to give them the “right raise.”
Microsoft’s stock is up 8 percent since Nadella started.
Apple CEO Tim Cook also embodies the new leadership style. Cook’s been outspoken in his support for gay rights, first coming out as gay in an October 2014 essay for Bloomberg Businessweek, then becoming a high-profile advocate for the LGBT community. He even chastised his home state of Alabama over its treatment of poor people and minorities.
“Here’s a guy who seems to stand up for what he thinks is right,” said Kiel. “He’s also open to admitting mistakes.”
Cook’s 2012 apology for a botched rollout of mapping software stood in sharp contrast to the non-apology offered by his predecessor, Steve Jobs, over an iPhone glitch in 2010.
Under Cook, Apple’s financials have soared.
CEOs who display character run companies that perform better financially, according to Kiel’s research -- an exhaustive seven-year study of 84 CEOs across multiple industries.
Kiel defined character using four moral principles: integrity, responsibility, forgiveness and compassion. He also came up with a list of 25 behaviors and attributes that embody these principles, like “telling the truth,” “forgiveness” and “owning up to your mistakes.”
He and his team asked CEOs to assess themselves on these traits, and asked their employees how they would rank their CEOs on the same metrics. They discovered that the CEOs who were graded as having the strongest character brought in five times more for the bottom line than the low-character CEOs.
The CEOs at the bottom, said Kiel, tended to see the world as a dangerous place where people would take advantage of you. They didn’t always tell the truth. They placed their own financial security over the well-being of their company and their employees. Their workers didn’t trust them.
The arrogant CEO started losing favor during the early 2000s with the downfall of self-interested scoundrels like Tyco’s Dennis Kozlowski, of $6,000-shower curtain fame, and Enron’s Jeff Skilling and Ken Lay, both convicted of fraud and conspiracy.
The nail in the coffin was, of course, the financial crisis of 2008, when Americans lost patience for executive bravado and arrogance.
“The recession changed everything, and we are just coming out of that on a global basis,” said Gaines-Ross.
Another reason for the change has to do with the way chief executives are hired these days, said George, the former Medtronic CEO, who is a fellow at Harvard Business School and who writes frequently about what he calls authentic leadership. About 85 percent of chief executives are hired from within their company, he said, and "boards don’t easily get fooled by internal candidates."
George was careful to note that arrogant CEOs aren’t yet extinct. “Wall Street is a little behind,” he said. “There’s so much ego there. Big ego.”
It’s worth noting that the shift in leadership style has coincided with the rise and influence of women in the business world. “Women do tend to be more down-to-earth and genuine,” said George. “But I don’t think this is a gender thing.” There are women who embody the old style, too, he said. (They seem to be pretty rare, though, considering less than 5 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs are women.)
What's really turned the tide in favor of positive human traits in the corner office is social media. Like other public figures, CEOs can’t escape the ubiquity of Twitter, Facebook, iPhone videos and the rest. If they make a misstep, the world will know. Their employees will know. They will demand answers and apologies. Chip Wilson, co-founder of Lululemon, was vilified on Twitter and Facebook in 2013 after he said that some women didn’t belong in the company’s yoga pants. He ended up leaving the company.
The arrogant superstar CEO was probably best embodied by GE’s Welch, a hard-charging “celebrity CEO” who famously fired the company's bottom 10 percent of performers every year. The strategy, which was replicated elsewhere, didn’t exactly win the hearts and minds of his employees. Welch’s GE was “where the weak went to the wall and only the strong survived,” as one columnist wrote at Forbes earlier this year.
“It is really hard to find a celebrity CEO these days,” said Gaines-Ross. “Trump is one of the very few.”
When HuffPost asked whether Trump -- whose campaign did not respond to a request for comment for this article -- was doing well reputationally, Gaines-Ross laughed.
“No," she said.
From Huffington Post, posted July 13, 2015
In late 2006, Alan Mulally arrived as the new CEO of Ford with a plain shirt, slacks, and a big smile. That smile quickly faded, however, when he asked to meet workers in the main factory. "I'm sorry", a colleague told him, "but Ford executives don't talk directly to factory employees." Unflinching, Mulally insisted on going to the factory floor. Once there, he spoke to the workers about their dreams, their hopes for the company, and the values of Ford.
In my new book, Discover Your True North, I profile Mulally and his leadership at Ford. During his seven years there, he transformed Ford from the brink of bankruptcy to an $8 billion profit. Mulally's low-key, "aw shucks" demeanor helped him connect with employees. As his workers grew to trust him, he made difficult deals for the company -- cutting the total cost of hourly workers from $97 to $55 per hour.
This change made Ford's UAW workers in the Midwest competitive with foreign, non-union assembly plants in the South, enabling Ford to shift jobs from Mexico to the Midwest. When he stepped down in 2014, Mulally left Ford as the most successful and financially stable automobile company in the U.S.
The key to Mulally's success? Authentic leadership.
As he said in 2013, "Leadership is being authentic to who you are, thinking about what you really believe in and behaving accordingly." Mulally lives that every day. At Ford, he attended strategic meetings in person. He then followed up directly to ensure successful outcomes and a supportive team.
Authenticity has become the gold standard for leadership. No longer is leadership about developing charisma, emulating other leaders, or looking good externally. Instead, leadership is about inspiring and empowering those you lead.
All of us want to be led by real people, not figureheads. As our organizations become less hierarchical, we yearn for leaders we can relate to as regular human beings. As a leader, the only way you can achieve this is to be your authentic self. You cannot "fake it 'til you make it," because people sense intuitively whether you are genuine or not. As Cameron Anderson at the University of Berkeley explains, there are always physical signs -- shifting eyes, rising voice, and other giveaways -- that identify imposters.
Unfortunately, not all leaders focus on being real. A year after Mulally joined Ford, Robert Nardelli took the reins of another Detroit automaker: Chrysler. Nardelli had been highly successful at General Electric, where he was one of three finalists to succeed Jack Welch. After leaving GE, he had an unsuccessful term as CEO of Home Depot before joining Chrysler.
At Chrysler, he tried to emulate the leadership style of his mentor, Jack Welch, which caused many to refer to him as "Little Jack." Unlike Mulally, who enjoyed casual conversation with employees and often ate in the company cafeteria, Nardelli preferred a command-and-control style. At Chrysler, this aloof style created a barrier between him and employees.
In contrast, Mulally created trust with his employees, enabling them to face the reality that Ford was going out of business unless dramatic changes were made. Eventually, Mulally's straight-forward approach enabled union workers to embrace lower wages. This move saved Ford jobs and helped create others. Nardelli, however, couldn't convince Chrysler workers to take similar pay cuts. Just two years after starting, Nardelli resigned as CEO of Chrysler, and the company filed for bankruptcy.
Authenticity drives our success. Without it, today's leaders are destined to fail.
What makes an authentic leader? Authentic leaders have discovered their True North, align people around shared purpose and values, and empower them to lead authentically in order to create value for all stakeholders.
Authentic leaders are constantly focusing their calling and purpose -- their True North. The only way to discover your True North is through rigorous examination of your life story, acceptance of your crucibles, self-reflection, and getting honest feedback as you rub up against the world.
To be an authentic leader, you must have both integrity and vulnerability. Integrity is the commitment to tell the whole truth, even when it is easier to conceal it. Vulnerability is the act of sharing your whole self, even when it's more comfortable to hide those parts you don't like.
Authentic leaders are true to themselves and to what they believe. Rather than letting the expectations of others guide them, they are their own persons and go their own ways. They engender trust and develop genuine connections with others. Because people trust them, authentic leaders are able to motivate them to achieve high levels of performance.
This is not to say that authentic leaders are perfect. Far from it. All leaders have weaknesses and are subject to human frailties and mistakes. Authentic leaders constantly try to improve themselves. By acknowledging their shortcomings and admitting their errors, their humanity comes through, and they are able to connect with people and inspire them.
Shakespeare wrote, "To thine own self, be true." To become an authentic leader, you should do the same.
From Huffington Post, posted July 6, 2015
"True North is your orienting point that helps you stay on track as a leader. It is derived from your most deeply held beliefs, your values, and the principles you lead by." -- Introduction to Discover Your True North
Today, I am launching this new weekly column, "True North Leaders," in conjunction with The Huffington Post. Each Monday, it will feature leadership insights and the stories of authentic leaders making important differences in the world. We will also take on current leadership challenges and analyze why leaders fail. Most important, the ideas in this column will help you discover your True North, so you can lead authentically throughout your life.
First, a little personal background about why I believe it's so important to develop more True North Leaders. After 33 years in the business world, the last thirteen at Medtronic, I set out on a journey to discover my next steps. As part of my search, I spent 18 months in Switzerland teaching business and technical leaders at two leading Swiss institutions before joining the faculty of Harvard Business School.
It is no secret that there has been a crisis in the business world the past twelve years. While I was in Switzerland, the first corporate crisis -- stimulated by the scandals at Enron, WorldCom and other companies -- ripped the business world asunder. When Congress passed Sarbanes-Oxley to reform corporate governance in 2003, more than 200 companies announced "accounting adjustments," some as much as $3 billion. Five years later, the financial crisis hit, triggered by the failure of Lehman Brothers, AIG, Citigroup, Fannie Mae and many leading banks.
These crises were not caused by the lack of governance procedures or subprime mortgages, but rather by failed leaders.
What caused leaders to fail?
In the 1990s many corporations chose the wrong people as CEO. Under pressure from Wall Street to maximize short-term earnings, boards of directors frequently selected leaders for their charisma rather than their character. These leaders put their companies at risk by focusing on the spoils of leadership instead of building organizations for the long-term.
These stock market pressures boomeranged in the fall of 2008 when many financial institutions became insolvent, forcing the U.S. government to intervene to save the system from complete collapse. The Great Recession that followed depleted the savings of millions of Americans and U.S. unemployment rose above 10 percent.
As a result, trust in business leaders fell to its lowest level in 50 years. In business, trust is the coin of the realm. The success of any organization depends upon customers' trust in its products, employees' trust in their leaders, and investors' trust in those who steward their funds. Seven years later, public trust in business leaders is still low.
The positive side of these crises is the high quality of leaders who have emerged. From these debacles today's leaders learned what not to do. They saw many of their predecessors get caught in the trap of chasing money, fame and power, and learned the perils of putting self-interest ahead of the institutions they served.
True North Leaders are the antidote to this crisis -- people who can lead us through the myriad problems we face. While many of the leaders we feature have accomplished remarkable things, these columns aren't about their successes, but rather the incredible challenges they overcame in becoming leaders. Through in-depth studies of 170 leaders, we learned their successes are the result of what they learned about themselves through their life stories, their crucibles and their journey to discover their True North.
These new leaders are bringing about a fundamental transformation in leadership. No longer is leadership about being charismatic, emulating others, or acting like a leader without going through rigorous self-reflection. These leaders learned that being authentic is the most effective and sustainable way to lead.
The hierarchical leadership style of the 20th century is fading fast in favor of today's empowering and collaborative leaders. In today's organizations people want to make meaningful contributions to the world through their work. They seek opportunities to lead now, not to wait their turn as so many did in my generation. They yearn to see their leaders not as figureheads, but as real people, authentically struggling with challenges just as they do.
This is not to say that these new leaders are perfect. Far from it. All leaders have weaknesses and are subject to human frailties and mistakes. Yet by acknowledging their shortcomings, their humanity comes through, and they are able to connect with people and inspire them.
As we examine these leaders, we hope to challenge you to learn more about yourself and your leadership, and to discover your True North. The bottom line is this: You can discover your True North right now.
- You do not have to be born with certain traits and characteristics
- You do not need a title or have to be at the top of your organization
- You can step up and lead at any point in your life.
There are no magic answers here -- no seven easy steps. People recognize immediately who is authentic and who is not, so you cannot "fake it until you make it." Instead, by being authentic and continuing to develop yourself, you can become a True North leader.
I look forward to going with you on this journey.
Bill George is senior fellow at Harvard Business School and former chair & CEO of Medtronic. He is the author of four best-selling books, including True North. His new book, Discover Your True North, will be available in late August, 2015.
This has been a very good week for America – a week in which the rights and dignity of all people have been upheld.
In just a week, what progress we have made! Recall:
- The Supreme Court upheld the legal right of all people to marriage, overcoming centuries of discrimination against same sex couples.
- The Court also affirmed the Affordable Care Act that offers health care to most Americans – ensuring the millions now covered by health insurance will continue to receive coverage.
- Republican leaders in the Senate and House worked with President Obama to give the president the ability to ratify free trade agreements, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
- The President spoke for all Americans as he preached on grace, then captured a unifying moment in Charleston and across the country as he sang “Amazing Grace” at Emanuel AME church.
- Americans banded together to ask that the Confederate flag be taken down – 150 years after the end of the Civil War.
- The Gates Foundation announced it will invest $2 billion in breakthrough renewable energy projects.
For socially progressive, fiscally conservative people like myself, these are signs of genuine progress that our country is getting back on the right track, attempting to heal some of our historic wounds and bring the country together, so we can focus on growth and opportunities for all Americans to live healthy and prosperous lives.
In each case, leaders made the difference by acting with courage and listening to their conscience. Kudos to:
- Justice Anthony Kennedy who wrote the majority opinion on marriage equality.
- Chief Justice John Roberts who wrote the majority opinion upholding the Affordable Care Act.
- Speaker John Boehner, Leader Mitch McConnell, and President Obama for uniting forces against the Democrats and labor unions to bring the benefits of free trade to all Americans.
- South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, four living former South Carolina governors, and the South Carolina congressional delegation who unified to urge the Confederate flag be removed from the South Carolina statehouse.
- Bill Gates for his focused philanthropy and for encouraging others to join him and Warren Buffett in The Giving Pledge to give away 50% or more of their net worth.
It is pioneering leaders like these and many others who are making the difference in our country, in large ways and small.
Finally, on a personal note, at a gathering in Minneapolis, Hillary Clinton praised the George Family Foundation for the work of its Catalyst Initiative to address “toxic stress” in underprivileged communities through mind-body approaches to health. My wife Penny George’s visionary leadership in integrative health is enabling people to achieve health in mind, body, and spirit. Penny continues to inspire and amaze me.
As children and young adults, we spend a lot of time in self-reflection. Who am I? What is the point of life? How will I change the world? Although I’d like to say that with age comes wisdom, that isn’t always true. What is certain, however, is that aging brings responsibility. We spend so much effort rushing from work to home to activity that we don’t take the time to think about what it all means. Carl Jung once said, “Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” Use these questions to look inside yourself and light the path towards your True North.
1. What do you think is the meaning of life? Do you live your life accordingly?
Look at these two questions separately, and don’t let your answer to the second question influence your answer to the first. I particularly like physicist Michio Kaku’s thoughts on the matter. He says, “Beyond work and love, I would add two other ingredients that give meaning to life. First, to fulfill whatever talents we are born with. However blessed we are by fate with different abilities and strengths, we should try to develop them to the fullest, rather than allow them to atrophy and decay… Second, we should try to leave the world a better place than when we entered it. As individuals, we can make a difference, whether it is to probe the secrets of nature, to clean up the environment and work for peace and social justice, or to nurture the inquisitive, vibrant spirit of the young by being a mentor and a guide.”
2. What do you think you were put on this earth to learn? What were you put here to teach?
We are all both teachers and students. What qualities do you display in your everyday behavior? Those around you are influenced by your actions. You may not have a formal role as a teacher or student, but each of us, particularly those in leadership positions, teaches others through our words and deeds. I often stress the importance of mentorship, and this question is a great way to explore ways in which you can mentor others – and to determine what mentors you might be lacking in your life.
3. If you had the opportunity to get a message across to a large group of people, what would you say?
YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and other advances in technology give every person the ability to reach a global audience. If you captured the attention of the world, what would you have to say? This requires careful consideration – would you offer actionable advice (“Get screened for breast cancer”) or say something more generic (“Be kind to others.”) What could you say and how would you phrase it to motivate others to take action?
4. Who or what energizes you? What makes you feel depleted? Do you thrive on chaos, or prefer order?
While the common definitions of introvert and extrovert focus on how social and outgoing one is, I prefer the theory that extroverts are energized by social interaction, while introverts find large groups more draining and are energized by time alone. Although tools like the Myers-Briggs test can be useful for identifying parts of your personality, you don’t have to define yourself with conventional labels. Determine the conditions under which you are most successful, and then set yourself up accordingly.
5. Why do you want to find your purpose?
You may have answered all of the questions in my 30 Questions to Help You Discover Your True North series, but if you don’t know the why of it all, what’s the point? Are you truly willing to make changes to your life? It’s much easier to remain where you are, doing the same things day in and day out. Once you’ve discovered your True North, are you prepared to take the necessary steps to steer yourself towards it? It can be frightening to venture into the unknown. Write down your answer to this question and keep it nearby as a reminder of your own True North.
Target's CEO, Brian Cornell, is no stranger to difficult decisions.
In 1981, Cornell stood in his UCLA dorm room, struggling with the biggest choice of his life. He could attend his college graduation, or he could fly to London to chase the girl who had "absolutely stolen his heart."
Thirty-four years later, Cornell faced another difficult decision. While dining with CVS CEO Larry Merlo, he and Merlo hatched a plan to sell Target's pharmacies and its in-store clinics to CVS.
In both cases, he made the decision to choose the important over the immediate.
The partnership with CVS represents yet another opportunity for Target to build its business. The transaction frees up resources for growth priorities — wellness and healthy foods, e-commerce, and new store formats like Target Express, small stores near college campuses and in urban areas. The move will also bring more guests to Target stores as CVS owns Caremark, a pharmacy benefits manager with over 70 million users.
Since taking the helm just ten months ago, Cornell has moved quickly to enable Target to regain its mojo, which had steadily slipped away in the past five years. He did so by making hard choices and refocusing the company on its roots that gave it the cache to be known among guests as Tar-Jay.
When Cornell took over, Target was not in good shape. Since 2007, the percent of Americans who say they've visited a Target store in the past four weeks has dropped by 30 percent, according to Kantar Retail. Its thrust into food was achieving mixed results; its long overdue e-commerce initiative was cumbersome to use; and its expansion into Canada was failing, as that division had lost $2 billion since opening in 2011. Then in December, 2013, the Target data breach burst into the open, affecting up to 70 million of its credit-card users.
Facing these difficult challenges, Cornell wasted no time in putting them behind him. After spending his first month touring stores, he announced that Target would focus on four key categories: fashion, kids, babies and wellness. Recognizing that Target's headquarters staff had become bloated, he slashed 2,300 positions. And he ventured into London to recruit Tesco's Mike McNamara as CIO, giving him a broad portfolio that includes Target's digital platform, information security, and its omnichannel strategy.
Cornell's toughest decision came last January. After visiting several of Target's Canadian stores, he announced the liquidation of the Canadian division, closing all 133 stores. I realized what courage he had not to throw good money after bad, and to reinvest south of the border. He described the decision as "the toughest of my career."
Hard decisions like these characterize great leaders. They build upon their company's roots and its strengths, and don't try to do it all. As my Harvard Business School colleague Michael Porter teaches, "Strategy is all about choices and deciding what not to do." That's precisely what Cornell has done at Target.
Freeing up investment dollars is enabling him to sharpen merchandising in focus categories, expand Target's presence in urban areas with TargetExpress, and invest $1 billion in Target's digital platform.
These moves are also enhancing Target's same-store sales and profitability. Since Cornell took over last August, Target stock is up 40 percent, while rival Wal-Mart has declined 4 percent. As Target's first CEO to come from outside ranks, Cornell is reaching out to the local community, vowing to continue Target's policy of giving 5 percent of its pre-tax income to philanthropic causes.
For Cornell, "It's all about people." Upon arriving at Target, he moved from the 26th floor CEO corner suite to a smaller office down the hall. He then moved the majority of the executive team to the 26th floor to make communication easier.
Brian Cornell has hit nothing but bull's-eyes in the past year.
And the girl he chased in 1981? He and Martha have been married for twenty-five years.
Commentary by Bill George, a senior fellow at Harvard Business School and the former chair and CEO of Medtronic. He is the author of the book "True North." Follow him on Twitter @Bill_George.
Disclosure: Bill George does not own any of shares of Target or any other companies mentioned here, nor does have any other business relationships with them.
A professor filled a jar with rocks and asked his students if it was full. They agreed that it was. Then, he added pebbles and asked again if it was full. His students acknowledged that yes, the jar was still full. He poured in sand, which filled the spaces between the pebbles, and his students confirmed that the jar was full. The professor explained that the rocks represent your top priorities. The pebbles are the things in life that are less important, and the sand is the little, every day stuff. Then, he dumped out the jar and filled it with sand. Once the jar was full of sand, there was no room for the pebbles and the rocks.
Are you filling your daily jar with sand first, or are you tending to the rocks? Answer these questions to guide you towards your True North – figuring out which priorities in your life are rocks, and which are the sand and pebbles.
1. If money was no object, how would you spend your time? What would your day look like?
A 2014 Harris Poll asked workers what they would do if they won the lottery. More than half said they would still choose to work, and 30% would keep their current jobs (although just 15% reported that they already had their dream job). The most common reason people gave for staying employed was “I would be bored if I didn’t work.” If that’s the case for you, you’re living to work and not working to live. While your job should coincide with your True North, there’s more to life than work. Think about your hobbies and the things you care about. For smart, hard-working people, boredom is never an issue.
2. If you were to donate everything you have to a cause or charity, which would it be?
What cause is dearest to your heart? Most people care about several different issues, from animal rights to homelessness. But if you had to select only one cause or charity to receive everything you own, which tops your list of priorities? When was the last time you did something to support this cause? Our top priorities are usually close to home – family, health, friends, and work. But you must care about the world at large, too. “A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.”
3. What keeps you awake at night when you should be sleeping? What gets you out of bed in the mornings?
The moments before you fall asleep should be peaceful – what are the problems that disturb you during that time? This question doesn’t just address your priorities; it can also indicate your tolerance for stress. Are you worrying about issues you have no control over? There are some things in life that we simply cannot influence. Good leaders don’t waste time fretting over these things. They plan for every contingency and focus on the decisions that they can make. As to the second question, don’t merely think about what gets you out of bed grudgingly. What makes you leap from your bed with excitement and face the day with a smile?
4. What bugs you? If it makes you mad, you’re passionate about it! Can you make your anger productive?
Like all emotions, anger has its uses. What really perturbs you? I’m not talking about your pet peeves – I mean the things that really get you fired up. Channel your anger into passion, and you’ll be motivated to do something about it. Whether you’re changing your own life or changing the world, passion is the driving force behind your True North. If you aren’t passionate about what you’re doing, it’s not where you should be directing your energy.
5. What price would you take to give up on your dreams? What price would you be willing to pay to achieve them?
The price you’d be willing to pay to achieve your dreams is a question you answer every single day as you make decisions about how to spend your time. Should you eat dinner with your family, or work an extra hour? Go for a run, or watch a movie with your significant other? We answer these questions differently depending on what our dreams are, but each decision requires that we give something up. The first part of this question is, to me, more interesting, although it’s less frequently posed. What would someone have to offer you for you to give up the pursuit of your dreams?
30 Questions to Help You Discover Your True North poses these five questions as well as several others. Think about each one. Time truly does fly, and it’s worth spending these extra minutes to make sure you’re not wasting the precious time you do have on things that aren’t as important to you. Figure out what your rocks are, so you can fill your jar with the important things in your life.
From CNBC, posted June 16, 2015
American unions rallied together for a show of power after years of losing members and political influence. They garnered enough Democratic votes to shoot down their own president, Barack Obama. Sunday's New York Times explained how this coalition came together. The feature pointed out that the unions threatened Democrats who voted for the bill with loss of funding and support. Money talks louder in politics than sound policy.
In advocating enthusiastically for the trade bill, President Obama was following in the footsteps of another Democratic president, Bill Clinton. Clinton's support for the 1990s trade bills, the North American Free Trade Agreement and General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, helped launch a jobs boom in America. Obama wisely saw the opportunity to do the same for American workers in today's era with the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Obama's efforts were to no avail.
Ironically, the defeated bill provided retraining assistance for workers dislocated by the trade bill. Lawmakers had crafted this legislation specifically to help the workers represented by the unions working so actively to defeat it. A further irony is that free trade agreements are heavily weighted to America's advantage because they open up foreign markets – in this case, Asian markets – to American goods, which face substantial restrictions in the form of tariffs and other limitations on their marketing. In contrast, American markets are already wide open to foreign goods with few limitations other than agriculture.
There is no doubt that globalization of the workforce – a trend that is inevitable in today's global world – is putting downward pressure on wages. For decades, labor unions have been steadily losing members. Additionally the public has gained greater insight into how certain union agreements hamper productivity, such as in the automobile industry. If labor fails to effectively partner with management and together create value for consumers, both labor and management will lose their jobs.
The reality of the trade bill's defeat means that more American manufacturers will be required by foreign governments to set up production and often research and development, thereby cutting production in the U.S. The trade bill would go a long way to alleviate that. As American companies expand globally, inevitably they add many more jobs here in the U.S. – engineering, manufacturing, marketing, finance, and management.
Former Ford CEO Alan Mulally directly addressed these issues shortly after taking over Ford in 2006. He saw that Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler were steadily losing market share for several decades and de-emphasizing cars (in favor of SUVs) because they were unprofitable and could not compete with German, Japanese, and Korean cars built in plants in the Southern states. He met with leaders of the United Automobile Workers and devised plans to bring jobs back to Detroit, based on lower starting wages for new workers with the goal of cost parity with plants in the Southern states. This plan worked. Ford's market share has grown dramatically, and its Midwest factories are flourishing.
A further reality is that many of today's workers will not be qualified for their positions by 2025 as increased technology is changing their job requirements. The only solution to this challenge is to retrain American workers for the jobs of the future. This is what Germany does so well through its apprenticeship programs and other worker training. And it explains how German manufacturers have grown so much in the era of globalization. Their quality and design expertise enable them to expand their export sales worldwide.
A natural compromise is to combine a worker retraining bill – something Democrats favor – with the trade authority President Obama seeks.
It's time for both sides to come to their senses and support the president on this bill – both the free trade agreement and the worker retraining. If lawmakers don't get this done, China will proceed to form its own coalition of nations willing to agree to free trade among themselves, and American companies and their workers will find themselves shut out of exporting to Asian markets. In this case, American workers will be the big losers as U.S.-based global companies will be forced to move more jobs overseas.
And the Democrats will become known as the party of the labor unions, not the party of job creation. It's their choice.
Commentary by Bill George, a senior fellow at Harvard Business School and the former chair and CEO of Medtronic. He is the author of the book "True North." Follow him on Twitter @Bill_George.
We each have certain assets and certain liabilities. You can maximize the use of your skills and talents and overcome your handicaps, but only if you’ve identified them. The fourth part in my series on Discovering Your True North helps you discover the positive qualities you may not even realize you possess, as well as any weaknesses that could be stumbling blocks to your success as a leader. Think about each question, and don’t just go for the easy answer. We all have a token response when someone asks us what our strengths and weaknesses are, but dig deeper!
1. What one word do you want people to use to describe you? What do you think they’d currently use?
If someone were to describe you to a stranger using only one word, what would you want that word to be? At its heart, this is a question of values. We all want to be known as intelligent, responsible, etc., but which of these traits is most important to you? The second part of this question deals with how people currently perceive you. Are you the person you want to be? And do you demonstrate those values to those around you?
2. What would others say is your biggest asset? What would they say is your biggest flaw?
This is a tough question to answer objectively, so consider asking someone who knows you well (and who will break your biggest flaw to you gently!). You shouldn’t be astonished by what you hear; ideally, you’re familiar with your own strengths and weaknesses. You might be surprised, though, to learn which qualities people think you could really maximize, and which are harming you more than you may know. Are you taking advantage of these assets? How can you work on overcoming your flaws?
3. What skills do people frequently compliment you on? These may not be what you think you’re best at.
What’s the nicest compliment you’ve ever received? This is a clue into what qualities you’d like to cultivate within yourself. There may be things that people often compliment you on that you simply brush off. For example, perhaps others frequently mention that you’re a good teacher, or that you communicate ideas clearly. Don’t take these skills for granted – not everyone has that ability. Instead, hone it and put it to use to further your goals.
4. What do you not want others to know about you?
We all have character flaws and tendencies that we’d rather keep hidden. Maybe you always procrastinate, or you can’t seem to make it to meetings on time. If you have a recurring problem like that, make an effort to fix it! It’s easier to work on your problems than it is to suffer the consequences from them. Examine the answer to this question closely – maybe it’s a part of your personality, and you can’t or won’t change it. In that case, root out and conquer those insecurities.
5. Think about your talents, passions, and values. How can you use them to serve and contribute to society?
Your strengths and passions are the tools you will use to carve out your future. What are your tools best suited to create? Consider your talents, passions, and values separately. You may be considerably talented in one area, but if you don’t enjoy it or you aren’t passionate about it, you shouldn’t make it your ultimate goal. Lastly, think about how you can apply the things you love, care about, and are good at to improve the world in some way. Isn’t that the point, after all?
My blog on 30 Questions to Help You Discover Your True North offers several thought-provoking questions to help you find your way. In part five of this six-part series, I’ll discuss the role priorities play in discovering your True North.
The fish rots from the head, and this is undoubtedly the case with FIFA and its leader, Sepp Blatter.
U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s indictment of 14 senior FIFA officials confirms what we all knew. FIFA is a deeply corrupt organization. Lynch, who collaborated with the police in Switzerland to arrest seven FIFA officials, detailed at least $150 million in corrupt payments over 24 years. At week’s end, Justice Department officials said they were preparing additional indictments.
The only objections came from Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose compatriots worked with representatives of Qatar to lock in the 2018 and 2022 World Cups for their respective countries. Putin seemed genuinely concerned that revealing the corruption that led to this surprise dual selection could jeopardize Russia’s chances for 2018.
That led UK Prime Minister David Cameron to speak out. Having lost the 2018 bid to Russia, Cameron bluntly called for Blatter’s resignation. “We cannot have accusations of corruption at this level and on this scale in this organisation, and pretend that the person currently leading it is the right person to take it forward. Frankly, what we’ve seen is the ugly side of the beautiful game and he should go, and the sooner that happens the better.”
Meanwhile, soccer leaders prepared to re-elect Blatter last week. The FIFA delegates meeting in Switzerland last Friday overrode the objections of the European nations and the United States, and voted overwhelmingly to re-elect the 79-year-old Blatter for a fifth term.
In defending himself, Blatter made the absurd claim that “I cannot monitor everyone all the time.” Really? Some 14 of Blatter’s closest subordinates have been criminally indicted, and he has no responsibility?
No self-respecting public company board would accept this response from its leader. Global CEOs are charged with monitoring the behavior of their subordinates. A key part of the job is to ask probing questions, build awareness of potential reputational risks, and identify issues like this. It’s governance malpractice for a governing board to not immediately relieve the chief exective of his duties in a circumstance such as this – particularly in light of Blatter’s very public and blatant statement abdicating responsibility for the situation. If he’s not responsible, who is?
The FIFA situation raises a difficult issue: How can corrupt global organizations be transformed when those governing them re-elect themselves? In this situation, they also have too much money and limited financial controls.
This week’s events demonstrate that national law enforcement is one avenue for justice. The other way, which would have swifter impact, is for FIFA’s commercial and media sponsors to withdraw their funding. Thus far, several major sponsors, including Coca-Cola, Visa, McDonald’s, Adidas, Budweiser, and Hyundai, have said they are “reviewing the situation.” These high integrity global organizations should immediately suspend their sponsorships until FIFA has new leadership. The same goes for the television sponsors, Fox Sports and Telemundo. Blatter won’t survive for long if they cut off his cash flow.
Is your organization showing signs of moral decay? Do your leaders take responsibility for the integrity of the entire organization?
Leaders are responsible for creating a moral climate in their organizations, and ensuring that its business affairs are carried out with integrity. Of course, there will always be individuals who deviate from company policy, in which case high integrity leaders move swiftly to terminate them and take appropriate follow-up action to prevent repeat incidents.
The vast majority of today’s business leaders do precisely that. The exceptions, such as Blatter, give a poor name to all who view leadership as a higher calling. High integrity leaders must support firm action against those who destroy important enterprises like world soccer.
The sponsors whose funds are being used by corrupt leaders like Blatter and his compatriots should take definitive action now. Instead of “reviewing the situation,” they should collectively suspend their corporate relationships with FIFA. This definitive statement can reshape soccer and restore integrity.