Instead of studying leadership, why not spend some time studying leaders and strategies in the wild? You can learn a lot from leadership experts, but you always see the leader and what he or she does through the expert’s personal lens. Supplement that learning with studying real leaders in real life situations and draw your own conclusions. The posts in this series will help you.
Every week I’ll point you to articles by and about real leaders in real situations and to articles about how real companies are faring in the marketplace. Read them. Think about them. Draw your own lessons and conclusions from them. Then try to apply those lessons in your own real life.
This week I’m pointing you to articles about Paul Polman, Doug McMillon, Keshub Mahindra, T. Boone Pickens, and Corie Barry.
From David Lancefield and Jeremy Grant: Forging partnerships to create a tipping point in sustainability
“Paul Polman, former chief executive of Unilever, explains why partnerships among government, civil society, and business are urgently needed.”
“Crises are living things, and like humans, they can follow a wayward and unpredictable pattern if not dealt with at the start. It is why I created this simple chart that illustrates the four first steps of the ‘crisis containment stage’: compassion, commitment, candor, and communicate. Each step of crisis containment builds on the next, and although the steps may occur simultaneously, compassion will always be the first in line. When I examined McMillon’s ‘letter to El Paso,’ I was struck by the clarity and directness with which it hit all four. I annotated McMillon’s letter below to show how he embraced the 4Cs and made three points that supported each step in order to move a tragedy in the direction of a problem to be solved.”
“Keshub Mahindra, the senior-most Wharton alumnus in India, is chairman emeritus of India’s Mahindra Group, a $20.7 billion conglomerate. His father and uncle founded the company in the mid-1940s. Mahindra joined the business soon after its inception, took over as chairman in 1963, and retired in 2012 after leading the group for five decades.”
“IN THE EARLY 1950s Thomas Boone Pickens worked as a geologist at Phillips, an oil firm based in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. He hated it. His working day was regimented. His colleagues lacked ambition. He found the waste and inefficiency sickening. ‘At Phillips, I met the monster: Big Oil,’ he wrote. Mr Pickens left to form his own firm, Mesa Petroleum. Impatient with its progress, he devised an audacious plan. He would slay the monster by using Mesa to buy out larger, badly managed firms.”
From Courtney Reagan: ‘Make yourself uncomfortable’: Best Buy CEO Corie Barry’s advice to women in business
“Corie Barry took over the top job in June as the consumer electronics retailer’s first female chief executive, one of only 27 female CEOs in the S&P 500, according to Catalyst. At 44 years old, she is also the youngest female CEO in the Fortune 100.”
Thanks to Smartbrief on Leadership for pointing me to this story
For some ideas about how to get more from this series of posts, check out “Studying Leaders in the Wild.“