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 Sarah Robb O’Hagan, Oprah Winfrey, Jeff Bezos, Janet Smith Meeks, and Jon M. Huntsman, Sr.
“When I found out I had the chance to interview Sarah Robb O’Hagan before she gave a keynote speech at the recent ACG Annual Women of Leadership Summit, I knew it would be a captivating interview. O’Hagan has an impressive resume: She is currently the CEO of Flywheel Sports and was previously president of Equinox Fitness Clubs and Gatorade, where she led a reinvention and turnaround of the $5 billion sports drink business, and has held senior leadership positions at Nike and Virgin Atlantic Airways. She is also the author of ‘Extreme You,’ a book and movement which encourages people to take risks, play to their strengths, learn from failure and reach their potential.”
“Oprah Winfrey believes in sharing the experiences that led her to become the wealthiest woman in the entertainment industry and the first African American woman billionaire. Professor Bill George traces her growth from childhood, focusing on how and when she discovered her true voice and how that authenticity spurred her career success.”
“If you’re invited to meet with Jeff Bezos, always prepare to reach for a larger purpose. Not long ago, he met with his senior team to discuss the latest customer metrics, but typically, he hijacked the session to talk about something more interesting: why do customers fall in love with some companies and move away from others, as if they gave off an odor? He attributed this tendency to something less measurable than customer service or product quality. A variety of factors come into play but, at the same time, it is a dimension unto itself. It’s called corporate reputation or in BezosSpeak, corporate coolness.”
“As a veteran C-Suite leader within the healthcare and financial services industries, I learned early on from blue chip mentors the importance of displaying confidence and humility. I learned that in order to hold my teams accountable, the buck started and stopped with me as I was responsible for being crystal clear with my staff in advance about performance expectations. I learned that accountability and compassion were not mutually exclusive, and I also learned that employees were starving for feedback because they wanted to understand the true impact of their work. In fact, I saw employees’ eyes ‘light up’ when I thanked them for a job well done and how they listened in earnest as I shared direct, yet kind candor regarding how they could be more effective.”
“In September 2005, Jon M. Huntsman, Sr. travelled to China. He was at a business school in Shanghai to speak about his recently published book, Winners Never Cheat, but in an off-the-cuff detour that fascinated his audience, he ended up talking about funerals.”