Ginny Wilson-Peters' Blog
It’s unique but it’s global. The differences are much less than you might imagine. During our Leadership and Personal development class in Italy, we heard the stories from two Italian leaders. As I sat and listened to both of them I was struck by the comparison in their messages with the leaders who have spoken to other MBA classes in the Quad Cities, Cedar Rapids and Des Moines. It really doesn’t matter where you are living and working; or where you’ve been raised. The messages are the same.
Marco Scippa, HR Director Imaging at Vitec Group talked about moving his family around—and the positive impact that those moves had on his family. He believes their quality of life was more interesting because they moved around. One of the things that I really appreciated about Marco’s message was his time in Moscow, Russia. Rather than live in the ex-pat village outside of Moscow, he and his family instead chose to live in Moscow, amongst the natives. They wanted to be immersed in the culture and the language. He said that his kids continue to be better at speaking Russian than he is!
Marco’s first message was that strong leaders capture the minds and hearts of their people.
Marco’s rules of leadership are:
- Be curious
- Get out of your comfort zone
- You must be able to communicate
- It is more important what we do than what we say
Our other speaker was Luca Semaniti. At the young age of 38, Luca is the Founder and co-Partner of Ideal Work, S.l.r. which provides products, tools and training for the Decorative concrete industry in the USA, Europe and Asia. Luca takes his definition of leadership from the landmark book, “Good to Great” by Jim Collins. A leader is, “Someone who blends genuine personal humility with intense professional will. Somebody ambitious for the company and not for his Ego. Modest and wilful Shy and Fearless.”
“Early on, I didn’t want to be a leader, because I didn’t understand what leadership was really about. Leadership was a scary word for me.” He shared the five myths of leadership that he had to overcome:
- A leader is a Man
- A leader is POWERFUL and he knows what to do
- A leader has a BIG EGO
- A leader is a little bit arrogant
- A leader is a CHIEF
Luca talked about the importance of self-knowledge when it came to developing his leadership skills. He said the self knowledge was like someone said to him “Here is a box—you already have what you need to be a leader.”
Luca reinforced for the class that leadership is about our relationship with other people and our family. Like many other MBA speakers, he strongly encouraged the students to look for leadership experiences in other areas of their lives.
Thank you to Marco and Luca for sharing your stories with our students—and me. I am continually inspired by stories of people committed to their leadership journeys.
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Posted in Communication, Global Leaders, Leadership Advice, MBA Class, Self-Awareness | No Comments »
Our University of Iowa MBA Leadership and Personal Development class was honored to hear from guest speaker Jim Israel last weekend. Jim is the President of John Deere Worldwide Financial Services Division. He shared his guidance for developing yourself, as a person and as a leader.
1. Get out of your comfort zone. Your success will be how effective you can rally your team. “To be a good leader you don’t have to be an expert. I see myself as the offensive line clearing the way for others to run and pass the ball.”
If you ever get the opportunity to do something new, do it. “If we make 100% of our decisions right, then we’re not making enough decisions—or taking enough risks.”
2. If you have a chance to do a global assignment, do it. The world is a lot more similar than it is different. Our customers and dealers have very similar desires and concerns. It is also great to see the United States through another country’s lens.
3. Set a clear vision for your organization. Jim talked about the power of aligning his division around a common vision. But creating that vision is only the first step. Then you have to motivate, align and inspire the organization. “And motivation isn’t about pom-poms. I have seen some soft-spoken leaders drive people to do great things.” (Jim also joked that he, however, isn’t one of the soft-spoken ones.)
4. Stay true to your own style. Do what your passionate about And have fun! “Going to work shouldn’t be drudgery. If you don’t go to work everyday excited about what you do, go somewhere else.”
5. Do things the right way. And make sure your “say-do” ration is 100%. “It is equally important how you accomplish something as what you accomplish. ”
6. Communicate, communicate, communicate. You can’t over-communicate. You have to say things over and over. And people need different kinds of communication. “You also owe it to your people to talk about the bad news. People are afraid of what they don’t know. “ He talked about the credit crisis in 2008 and how they spent a great deal of time in straight talk with their people. Also, one of the most important parts of communication is listening. “Our greatest ideas come from people closest to our customers.”
7. Focus on developing talent. “The most important thing I do is get the right people in the right chairs.” Identify people who have potential and keep providing them with challenges. Stretch your high potential people. And remember for yourself not to focus on pay. “If you’re moving around alot, you’re going to be at the bottom of the pay grade a lot. Your pay will catch up with you. ”
8. Strive for work-life balance. Not only your own but for your people. “It used to be a badge of honor how many hours you worked.” But there are a lot of things in life you’ll never have the opportunity to get back. Work is a marathon, not a sprint. Take care of yourself, emotionally and physically. “I invite my grandkids to come and have lunch with me at work every couple of months.”
9. Give back to your community. Pay it forward.
Thanks Jim for these words and much more. And for providing a role model of authentic leadership for our class.
Posted in Balance, Communication, Global Leaders, Leadership Advice, Listening, MBA Class, Teams, Vision | 1 Comment »
Leadership is a journey, not a destination It is a marathon, not a sprint. It is a process, not an outcome.
John Donahoe, president of eBay
A number of years ago I went on a 4 day white water rafting trip on the Green River in Utah. The route was mostly level 2 and 3 rapids with an occasional level 4. There were three rafts in our group. I remember getting to our raft and looking at our guide—a young man who was just eighteen years old. My mind went to judgment and my body went to fear about his potential inexperience. Then I asked him how long he had been rafting and how he approached things. His answer sealed the deal for me. “I’ve been rafting on this river since I was 14 years old. But every time I come to this river I always assume it will be different than any time before. The river can change in an instant—and I don’t take anything for granted.”
Alrighty then, we’re going to be just fine—and we were.
But that trip is such a reminder for me that leadership is an ongoing journey—and one that can change in an instant. And unlike the rafting trip, where we are encouraged to travel light, our leadership journey is one in which we often bring years of experience (and bad habits along with us).
Last week I heard an energizing and inspiring presentation by Chad Pregracke, Founder and President of Living Lands and Water. While Chad had many great things to say about his journey, three things stood out for me. First, he talked about approaching a local company to sponsor him and he asked for a large sum of money (a sum that many people would say he was crazy to ask for). His comment, “I didn’t set out with small intentions.”
Second, Chad said that if you set out to do good things, then good things will happen to you.
And finally, Chad said he read somewhere that the earth wasn’t destroyed all at one, but piece by piece. “And so that is how it needs to be cleaned up” one day at a time.
Those same lessons apply to our leadership journey, as was evidenced by the fact that the same day I heard Chad speak I had an email from a coaching client who is working to redirect some of her leadership efforts and overcome bad habits. She said, “I’m working on the things we talked about. It’s hard to change fifty-something years of bad habits…but I’m starting.”
And that is all that we can ask. If you follow Chad’s advice, you can start something with big goals, but also recognize that you’re going to achieve those one day at a time. And remember, that leadership development really is a marathon, not a sprint!
“I don’t consider myself a born leader. In fact I was rejected from both the Key Club and the Rotary Club at different times.” Steven Bahls, President of Augustana College.
Steve Bahls provided inspiring opening words to our Quad City Leadership Academy last Friday. After talking about his initial failures, he went on to say that he did get involved with leadership positions in the Boy Scouts as well as other organizations. In a candid and inspiring message with the participants, Steve reinforced the idea that leadership is more of an art than a science, and he provided his top six tips. I won’t steal all of Steve’s great stories but do want to share a couple of them.
Lead where you are passionate. Prior to coming to Augustana College, Steve served as Dean of the Capital University Law School in Columbus Ohio. Steve went to meet with Dave Thomas, founder of Wendys and was excited about the opportunity to sell Dave on the idea of naming the law school after him. Shortly into his presentation, Dave stopped him and said, “I don’t like attorneys. Having grown up in the Foster system I understand how difficult lawyers made my life.” Realizing it was best not to sell something impossible, Steve shifted gears. Instead he worked with him to create the Dave Thomas College of Adoption Law.
Steve also talked about meeting with people at their 50 year class reunion from Augustana College. Each person had 3 minutes to reflect on their lives. (Can you imagine—3 minutes to reflect on your life of 73 years?) “Many are still trying to figure out their calling. They also talk about how they learned from their failures, false starts, failed marriages, etc.”
Employ Imagination Step outside your own shoes and look at problems from a different point of view.
Create a marketplace of ideas. Oliver Wendall Holmes said, “Truth is raised by the free trade of ideas.” Steve said if he could be on a desert island with one person, it would be Oliver Wendell Holmes.
Surround yourself with strong people and learn how to listen to different ideas.
Don’t put your personal ethics on the shelf.
Everyone who succeeds has a mentor. Find a peer, inside or outside of your organization who will serve as your mentor. This should be someone you totally trust, but also someone who will be direct with you.
Follow Micah 6:8. “He has shown you O man what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Pursue humility. Steve said “I believe in giving people mulligans. If I write people off for making mistakes, I’d be the only one in the room.”
I thanked the gentleman beside me for asking the question. We were at the Illinois Quad City Chamber’s Executive breakfast this morning and our guest speaker was Murry Gerber, the CEO and Chairman of EQT Corporation. At the end of his informative presentation, John, sitting next to me asked Murry what he looks for in new employees. Murry perked up and said, “I know we’re running low on time, but I really want to answer this one thoroughly.”
He went on to say that one of the things he is most proud of is his commitment to transforming the culture at EQT. Murry became CEO of EQT in 1998 and was elected Chairman in 2000. He said there were two important things they did. One was to make a commitment to hire managers from within the organization. “We’ve tried hiring from outside and it didn’t work. I even hired a few managers from outside and I did a poor job.”
The ability to promote from within requires the second commitment. EQT identified four leadership competencies. “And we’re not just talking about competencies from identified leaders. We’re talking about competencies for anyone in the organization.” The four competencies that he identified were:
1. Be Forthright. Be willing to say what needs to be said at any level of the organization. “If you say it around the water cooler, be willing to say it to the CEO.”
2. Make informed decisions. Use data and use the knowledge of colleagues. He talked about the fact that they didn’t create a number of formal teams, but expect people to create ad hoc discussions with colleagues as necessary.
3. Achieve results. Do what you say you will do.
4. Build Capability. And not just in others. If you supervise people then you should be building capability in yourself as well as in others. If you’re not supervising, then you are still responsible for developing yourself.
Thank you Murry for the inspiration!
“The brick walls are there for a reason. They’re not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something.” Randy Pausch.
The 2009 Leadership Challenge Forum began today with a keynote by co-author Barry Posner and ended with another keynote by co-author Jim Kouzes. I had the opportunity to chat with both of them and express my appreciation for their ongoing excellent work with the Leadership Challenge books.
Jim Kouzes’ presentation was called Leading in Turbulent Times. Early on, he reminded us that historical, as well as many current leaders were at their best service during times of adversity (think Abraham Lincoln, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, and so on). He went on to remind us that when he and Barry interview people about their best leadership experiences, they never have someone say, “Yeah I did a great job keeping things the same.” The stories are always about some type of change.
“Adversity introduces us to ourselves.” John F McDonnell, Mc Donnell Douglas. So, the question you can ask yourself is “During these turbulent times, who is the self that you’re being introduced to?”
Jim provided six lessons learned from successful leaders who have developed the resilience to not only survive, but overcome and thrive in tough times.
1. Broaden the context. These turbulent times requires us to step up and look for new ways of doing things.
What have you changed lately?
2. Define Reality. “The first job of a leader is to define reality.” Max DuPree. When people were asked if they felt better knowing news, even if it was bad, only 14% said “no”. Eighty-five percent of people said “Yes” they felt better knowing the news, even if it was bad. (From the Pew Center for People and the Truth, Feb 2009)
Is it possible that part of our challenges in the auto industry are due to a lack of willingness to face reality?
3. Fully Commit to What’s Important. And you can only commit to what you’re clear about, so remember the importance of knowing your values and what you’re passionate about.
4. Take Charge of Change. The work of leaders is change. “I’d bet there isn’t a single highly successful person who hasn’t depended on grit.” Angela Duckworth, U of Pennsylvania. Grit includes the ability to stick with something, to keep at it.
Leaders need to notice areas where we are stuck in a fixed mindset–and challenge those arena. MBA students who were rated high on proactivity were considered by their peers to be more transformational leaders.
5. Engage with Others. We can’t do it alone.
You can NOT command and control your way through adversity.
We need to get along better as a world.
6. Tell Positive Stories. Telling positive stories helps to build resilience throughout the organization. Again, have to share current reality but also talk about the positives. And remember that the magic ratio is 3:1. Three positives (at least) for every negative.
“Let Unconquerable Gladness Dwell” (said to be a saying on the desk of FDR for many years)
For more, visit Jim’s blog at http://www.leadershipchallenge.typepad.com/
“A leader is anyone who is willing to help.” (The Berkana Institute. www.berkana.org )
One of my favorite discussions in all of our leadership courses centers around what is leadership and what is management. In his book, “Tribes” Seth Godin describes it this way:
“Leadership is Not Management. Management is about manipulating resources to get a known job done. Burger King hires managers. They know exactly what they need to deliver and they are given resources to do it at a low cost. Managers manage a process they’ve seen before, and they react to the outside world, striving to make that process as fast and as cheap as possible.
Leadership, on the other hand, is about creating change that you believe in.
Leaders have followers. Managers have employees.
Managers make widgets. Leaders make change.”
Consider also the following comments from two different MBA students following our discussion of this topic. Both came from their reflective writing assignments
“A key idea that resonated with me from the class discussion is that leadership is a choice and not merely a power inherited with a title. Far too often we find ourselves wrapped up in the notion that leadership is a position we get to in the company. That is a vain and fallacious view of leadership. Unfortunately, I have developed too many of my expectations with the premise, “If I do a good job now, one day, they will make me a leader.” I’ve always held that leadership is a management position that I will earn one day. However, I have realized that my opportunity for leadership is up to me. I don’t need to wait for my company to tell me I’m a leader. I can simply start being a leader today. Interestingly enough, I believe that stepping up and showing my leadership today, and exercising it, will do more for my bigger career ambitions than the path I am currently on. Not only that, but I can get a lot more done now by being a leader to my co-workers (and even my managers) by leading.” (Spring 2009 MBA student)
“I’ve recently begun to make an effort to differentiate between the leaders and managers at my workplace. The layers of management are quick to refer to their group as “leadership”, when in fact they only react to manage current circumstances. While management skills are critical, the class discussion made it clear that an organization cannot thrive with purely management or leadership skills – it must rely on a balance of both. This gives me some clarity as to why I’ve been so frustrated with those in positions of authority, as they consistently react to financial pressures, and ignore the forward-thinking pleas of subordinate leaders. Unfortunately, it is extremely difficult to manage or “lead” up the chain of command.” (Spring 2009 MBA student)
And so you get it, right?
- A leader is anyone who is willing to help.
- Leadership is a choice, not a position.
- Leadership is a set of teachable, learnable and measurable results. (Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner)
- Management is about STABILITY. It’s about planning, directing and controlling resources in order to deliver consistent results (product or service.
- Leadership is about CHANGE. It’s about creating a vision for the future; creating a culture where people are motivated and inspired to grow.
- The power for being an effective manager comes from position—from being the boss. The power for being an effective leader comes from your personal power; being a coach, facilitator and servant leader.
- Managers do things RIGHT; Leaders do the right thing. (Peter Drucker)
Which leads us to two questions.
- Can you be a good manager without being a good leader?
- Can you be a good leader without being a good manager?
What are your thoughts? Leave me a comment and let me know.
I saw some women cringe; others gather their things and leave; many others sat up and became actively engaged in the conversation. Where was I? At just one of the many invigorating sessions at the Iowa Women’s Conference last week. The session I’m referring to was a joint session with Erica Jong and Naomi Wolf and the topic was political and personal power. It held controversy, political opinions, and outright challenges. Everything we needed for an energizing session!
Erica stated that the next stage of feminism is mentoring. She reminded us the problems women face are the same worldwide. “Once we stop fighting for the ideal,” she said, “it will go away.” She also suggested that any woman who wants to do something has to inure themselves against mockery.
I could immediately relate to those words. Ten years ago I left a six figure salary and role as President of a successful company to begin my own business from scratch. At the age of 38, I had many people who told me I was crazy. How could I leave such a successful position? One word: Passion. And I also had the support of my husband and close friends.
Naomi Wolf talked a great deal about the importance of women supporting one another. At their Woodhill Institute, they have a credo of “No Harmful gossip.” Erica added by saing: ”It has to be considered unethical behavior to gossip and be catty about other women.”
Passion and support were words that resonated throughout the entire conference. Anne Bancroft, the Polar Explorer, and first woman in history to cross the ice to both the North and South poles, talked about the important role of her mother in nurturing her dreams, even at a young age. “My mother was key in nurturing my dreams. Others were not so much. At a very early age, I learned to be quiet about my dreams.”
Anne later went on to say “Leadership is about deciding to lead–and then doing it. It is sometimes a lonely place.”
My challenge to all of you who attended the conference, as well as all who are reading this blog is to be inspired by the accomplishments of our phenomenal speakers AND not to be intimated by them. The time is now to take their messages to heart and take action within yourself.
To those who attended the conference, talk to others about what you learned, how you were inspired and most importantly, what action you plan to take as a result of what you learned.
If you didn’t attend, you too can begin a conversation. And, if you’re interested, email me and I’ll send you my notes.
Following are some specific questions to create and keep the conversation going. Please have the conversation offline and also share your thoughts and questions with me and others in this blog space.
* Who has–and still does–support you and your dreams? How do you support the dreams of others?
* Where is your power and how do you use it? What is holding you back? What do you need to step out of in order to step into your power?
* How will you work to strengthen your network?
Quotes from the speakers and others:
“I learned to wander. I learned what every dreaming child needs to know–that no horizon is so far that you cannot get above it or beyond it.” Beryl Markham (as shared by Anne Bancroft)
“Women hold up more than half the sky.” (Old Chinese saying, shared by Adrian Wing)
“If women want their rights, then we have to stand up and take them for ourselves.” (Sojourner Truth, shared by Marian Wright Edelman, founder of the Children’s Defense Fund)
“It’s so much easier to build strong children than to repair wounded men.” (Frederick Douglas)
“We don’t have a money problem in this country; we have a values problem.” (Marian Wright Edelman)
“We have to be careful about hero worship. This is about taking back your own power.” (Naomi Wolf)
“My purpose is to level the playing field so that every person can achieve his or her full potential. The key for me is having a vision.” (Dr Rohini Anand, Global Chief Diversity Officer and Sr VP, Sodexho, Inc)
“If Mom’s couldn’t work, American business would shut down.” (Carol Evans, President and CEO, Working Mother Media). When someone said to Carol that her children needed her at home, she responded, “Yes, and they NEED a home!”
Take action–step into your leadership–and keep the conversation going! (Ginny Wilson Peters challenge to all of us)
Okay, end of the first day at the Iowa Women’s Conference in Coralville. The theme is “Choosing to Lead”: Leveraging your Personal Power”
“Do not wait for leaders. Do it alone, person to person.” (Mother Theresa) As shared with the group by Sally Mason, President, University of Iowa.
Sally Mason offered words of wisdom at the Wednesday evening dinner. Some of the highlights that spoke to me were:
* She said her career path–like that of many of women leaders, was full of unexpected tasks.
* “Opportunities for leadership are often unexpected and women should be ready to take advantage of them. The choice itself is an act of leadership…The fortitute to lead must come from within.”
* “Find your own way to tap into your personal power and lead.”
Our keynote dinner speaker was Marjorie Scardino, CEO of Pearson (www.pearson.com) Before sharing a few of her highlights, let me share the following story as an example of this company’s commitment to their values and their people. In the summer of 2008, when the floods devasted much of the Cedar Rapids/Iowa City Iowa cooridor, the Pearson Foundation not only contributed a $50,000 employee match for flood relief efforts. They also provided 3 months of living for 50 employees displaced during the floods. And they asked if there was more that needed to be done.
Marjorie’s message had much wisdom and she carried a wonderful sense of humor. The bulk of her message was about the need to create a new definition of business–of the role of business in this current economic crisis we’re experiencing.
In order to “sustain energy and motivate others” Marjorie said companies must do the following:
1. Be financially successful
2. Have a long-term horizon
3. Benefit society and understand that its job is to move civilization along. Part of this is helping their employees be part of something larger than themselves.
4. Have to be doing brand new things
I loved it when she was talking about the idea of legislating CEO pay, and she said that she looks at the kinds of things she does everyday and asks herself “What kind of things would NOT have happened in this company if I wasn’t there?” If you keep track of those things, she said, you’ll get a sense of what your value truly is to the organization.
Final bite from today. I heard from Kara at Principal Financial Group that Barry Griswold, Chairman of Principal has a newly released book called The Adversity Paradox. The opening sentence is “Business Savvy is not something you’re born with, nor is it something you inherit.” I’m anxious to get the book and read more. Has anyone read it yet??
“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” Buckminister Fuller
In December I had the opportunity to listen to two women CEOs in one week’s time. The women struck me as very different and yet very inspiring. The first was Sister Joan Lescinski, President of St Ambrose University. Sister Joan was kind enough to sit in circle and share her experiences with our “Grow to be CEO” women’s leadership group. Exerts of Sister Joan’s conversation with our group are included on page 2 of this newsletter.
The second woman leader was Meg Whitman, CEO of E-Bay who was speaking at a local Chamber breakfast. During the course of her presentation, she shared the keys to business success. The last one discussed was “Disruptive innovation is key and has to come from within.” She talked about the fact the E-Bay was constantly looking for ways to reinvent themselves in order to stay ahead of the marketplace. Given the successful growth of E-Bay in recent years, one can hardly argue that the strategy hasn’t been successful.
But Meg’s comment about disruptive innovation caught my attention for another reason as well. What about the role of disruptive innovation in personal leadership development? I found myself asking myself these questions: Where am I stuck in my own life? Where in my life do I need some disruptive innovation? ”
In his research about unleashing self-directed learning, Richard E. Boyatzis, PhD said this: “Most, if not all, sustainable behavioral change is intentional. Self-directed change is an intentional change in an aspect of who you are (i.e., the Real) or who you want to be (i.e., the Ideal), or both. Self-directed learning is self-directed change in which you are aware of the change and understand the process of change.
The (growth) process may not and often does not occur as a smooth, linear event. It occurs with a surprise. The person’s behavior may seem to be stuck for long periods of time and then a change appears quite suddenly. This is a discontinuity. A person might begin the process of self-directed learning at any point in the process, but it will often begin when the person experiences a discontinuity, the associated epiphany or a moment of awareness and a sense of urgency.” (Unleashing the Power of Self-Directed Learning, May 2001).
I’ve written and spoke many times in the past about the 360 leadership assessment I received ten years ago when I was President of Midland Press Corporation. That assessment was an example of discontinuity and disruption for me; it set me on a new path to change my leadership style and show up in the world in a more compassionate, yet results-oriented way. Ultimately it also led me to leave my position at Midland and start my own business.
My recent trip to South Africa was my most recent example of disruption. We met with a variety of women leaders and there were several times when I felt a kick in the gut to do more—or do things differently. To provide just one example, during a breakfast dialogue with women leaders at the Gordon Institute of Business, author Meg Wheatley said (summarized by me): “Seventy percent of poor and illiterate are women; 95% of the casualties of war are women. On a global level, we are not dealing with the issues of women and poverty. You have to conclude that this is a world that does not care about our children.”
Meg went on to say: “I don’t know if woman can change the world. But I don’t know anything else that might!
And so, the kick in the guts have reminded me that as women, we have everything we need already to create positive change in the world. Are we ready?
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