Leadership Interview – James Quigley

By Mike Myatt, Chief Strategy Officer, N2growth

I’ve always said that if you want to learn about leadership talk to someone who has actually led something. James (Jim) Quigley, Global CEO of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited is just such a leader, and the “something” he leads is a global professional services juggernaut with more than $26 Billion in revenue, and 170,000 people located in more than 150 countries worldwide. What I most appreciate about Jim is his almost evangelistic zeal in championing the Deloitte brand. Jim is a fully engaged CEO who leads by example. You’ll also find Jim to be among the most transparent CEOs you’ll encounter. If you don’t believe me just go looking for him – he’s not that hard to find. Jim has a new book out (“As One“), you can find him on Twitter @DeloitteCEO and Jim is a frequent presenter at conferences such as World Business Forum and the World Economic Forum in Davos. Enough with the background – on with the interview…

Mike Myatt: What does it take to be a CEO of a global professional services firm, and why should anyone be led by you?

Jim Quigley: CEOs today need to model and advocate mutual trust between employees and leadership. I believe that successful CEOs will be judged on long-term sustainable performance and the stewardship of their organization’s mission, rather than on short-term performance and results.

One of my main focus areas is to increase my leadership team’s ability to be effective. One way to achieve that is by respecting your people, helping them find their authentic voice and leadership style, and demonstrating a genuine advocacy of their professional development.

It is absolutely critical for leaders to lead by example and foster a culture of values and respect. If I empower my leadership team and instill the organization’s values in them, they in return will do the same with their teams. That’s why I spend a lot of time talking to my partners about culture and our values, and the importance of articulating a clear vision and strategy.

Mike Myatt: Your new book ‘As One’ is receiving rave reviews. What inspired you to author a book at this time?

Jim Quigley: I’ve been fascinated by leadership for a long time, and I’ve had the privilege to be in a leadership position for much of my career. Over the years, through my many conversations with C-level executives, it became clear to me that galvanizing large groups of people to work together toward a common purpose was not just a challenge for me, but it was a prevailing challenge for executive leaders.

The actual idea to write a book evolved from a conversation with Mehrdad Baghai, my co-author, where we realized that although we were thinking similarly about leadership, we were coming at it from two very different perspectives. Yet we both shared the belief that leaders from all walks of life are searching for a pragmatic and tested approach to help them realize the full potential of their people. That’s when we agreed that it was time to take a new look at collective leadership.

Mike Myatt: You say that ‘As One’ challenges conventional thinking with regard to leadership styles. Can you share your thoughts on this?

Jim Quigley: ‘As One’ is unconventional in that it has brought about a much-needed depth to the way we classify different approaches to collective leadership. Historically, management theory has tended to present a binary view of leadership—command-and-control vs. collaborative. In reality, we discovered that there are multiple styles of leadership, some or all of which may lead to more effective collaboration, depending on the situation. As One provides a leadership discourse with a rich taxonomy that captures the distinguishing features of different leader-follower models. It is also an approach that is robust in its measurement elements and both actionable and adaptable to a wide range of leadership scenarios.

Mike Myatt: You talk a lot about collective leadership – why is this important?

Jim Quigley: Collective leadership is important because in a rapidly globalizing world where technological advancements are continually redefining how we do our jobs and how we interact with each other, it is no longer possible to assume that you have the full commitment and loyalty of your people. Today, more than ever, leaders need the full commitment and engagement of their people if they are to succeed in an intensely competitive world.

Collective leadership defines how individuals, leaders, and organizations need to interact to achieve common goals. By establishing a common framework for how to work together, leaders can achieve a productive and sustainable form of engagement, creating a culture where members choose to participate in and contribute to the organization’s performance.

Mike Myatt: How has social media affected you as a CEO?

Jim Quigley: Social media has created a number of opportunities and challenges for the business community, changing the way they communicate with their customers, suppliers, and employees.

As CEO, it is incumbent on me to understand and support the new and emerging ways our teams collaborate and communicate with potential talent, each other, thought leaders, business leaders, and all of our stakeholders. It starts with awareness—for example, Deloitte has the second largest corporate presence on LinkedIn—and then moves deeper, into strategy, execution, and measuring results.

Personally, my experience with social media took a step forward this year when I started my Twitter handle (@deloitteceo) to share some thoughts on topics that are important to me and our organization.

Mike Myatt: What has been the most difficult decision you’ve had to make as a leader?

Jim Quigley: One of the most difficult decisions the leadership team had to make was the decision to keep consulting as a service line at Deloitte when I was the CEO of the U.S. firm. The Enron scandal and the ensuing passage of Sarbanes-Oxley opened a new chapter in the accounting profession. One after another, our competitors began shedding their consulting arms due to limits placed on accounting firms’ providing consulting services to audit clients. For us, too, all signs pointed to a separation. But after a lengthy consideration, we made the difficult, strategic decision to keep consulting as part of Deloitte.

Looking back, we realize that we made the right decision. Today, consulting is a critical part of our business. Having a strong consulting practice enables us to recruit and retain diverse talent with varied expertise, which ultimately benefits all our business lines and enhances the value we deliver to clients.

Mike Myatt: What do you see as the primary role of a leader?

Jim Quigley: Leadership is an evolving discipline. Some believe leadership is about people, and leaders must develop people’s sense of belonging to their group and cultivate a strong shared identity among members of their group. Many think leadership is connected to productivity, and leaders must effectively coordinate activity so members of a group have a common interpretation about how to work together. Others think leadership is about purpose, and leaders should inspire commitment to drive people’s dedication to achieving defined goals with directional intensity.

I believe the primary role of a leader is to bring these three components together to help unleash the full potential of their people.

Mike Myatt: How has ‘As One’ affected you personally?

Jim Quigley: I’ve become an even stronger advocate of measurable data and actionable information. As One’s diagnostic provides specific metrics that leaders and organizations can assess, and the insight from this can be extremely valuable.

For example, ‘As One’ retaught me the dangers of making assumptions. In environments that appear to have common roles and large numbers of employees in common tasks, individual needs for how to be led differ. When leading large groups of people, leaders have to see the various ways their people are experiencing the environment today and understand how, given the opportunity, they would change that environment to make it be more conducive to their choosing to collaborate. Sometimes, this will involve epiphanies that can be summed up as “I was wrong about what I thought” or “my assumptions were incorrect.”

Mike Myatt: What are the biggest challenges you are facing as a leader today?

Jim Quigley: One of the key challenges I face today is maintaining our leadership position in the market. For example, to support our growth we are looking to hire 250,000 people to join our workforce over the next five years. I believe creating a uniform culture and aligning our people across borders, functions, and disciplines will be a critical component of our long-term success. That’s why I chose to invest in ‘As One’. I think through our ‘As One’ strategy, we will be able to further strengthen the commitment of our people to our brand and, most importantly, to our clients, in every single one of the 150 countries where we have a presence.

Mike Myatt: If you could give our readers advice on leadership, what would that be? Any parting thoughts?

Jim Quigley: 1) Believe in your people, 2) give them ownership and empower them to realize their full potential, 3) have a genuine interest in them and respect their ideas and how they want to be led, and 4) model the accountability and values you expect of the organization.

In the long run, these are the attributes that will enable leaders to increase employee engagement and create an environment where their people are proud to be a part of the organization and are fully and wholeheartedly committed to its goals and success.

Final Thoughts: After reading this interview, it should come as no surprise why Deloitte is so successful. Jim is a great leader with a strong vision. He values his people and is committed to fulflling Deloitte’s brand promise. Please leave your questions/comments for Jim below – He’s a social media guy so I’m sure he’ll respond…

Disclosure: Deloitte is a client.

Leadership Challenge

By Mike Myatt, Chief Strategy Officer, N2growth

What if you could improve your leadership effectiveness in only 5 days? No really – what if? What if there were no costs, no strings attached, no hidden agendas, no complex curriculum, but just a simple set of instructions for you to follow over the next 5 days that will change your world as a leader? Well, I have a 5 day leadership challenge for you which will do just exactly that – You in?

Here’s the deal – leadership has very little to do with what you can do for yourself, but it has almost everything to do with what you can do for others. If I do away with all the management speak and complex theory, leadership can actually be distilled down to one very tangible measurement; the quality of your relationships. Let’s be honest, fractured relationships adversely impact culture, cause stress, infringe upon your thought life, waste time, and inhibit performance. Healthy relationships, on the other hand, create synergy, establish good will, engender confidence, foster trust, encourage loyalty, and build healthy cultures. The bad news is unhealthy relationships are in fact a reflection of your leadership ability. The good news is there isn’t a single person reading today’s post that is incapable of improving their strained relationships. Therein lies the challenge…

We all suffer from living with relationship gaps that can be and should be narrowed, if not closed altogether. It doesn’t matter whether these gaps are positional or philosophical, whether they exist because of your pride or their ego, or whether you need to build a bridge or mend a fence due to a wrong that was committed by you or against you. The simple fact remains that troubled relationships impact your ability to lead. The question is not whether you have fractured relationships, but if you recognize them, and if so, what you will or won’t do about them. Smart leaders don’t allow fractured relationships to disrupt healthy behaviors and attitudes.  

Here’s the 5 day challenge:
Day 1: Identify one relationship in need of improvement. Determine their needs, assess their positions, perceptions and opinions, and identify how you can help them.  
Day 2: Now comes the hard part…extend an invitation to meet in person – no phone calls, emails, DMs, or Facebook messages. Get face-to-face.
Day 3: Have the meeting, ask questions, process, and listen. Remember this is about them and not about you. Treat them like you’d want to be treated.
Day 4: Evaluate the meeting and the response of the person you met with. Follow-up and follow through. Do what you said you would do.  
Day 5:  Start the process over again with a different person. Want to bite-off more than one relationship? Be my guest, but remember that you can still improve as a leader one relationship at a time.

This process will work for anyone in your value chain – peers, subordinates, customers, vendors, partners, etc. It only requires effort on your part and a sincere desire to better serve those within your span of control, or your sphere of influence. Do yourself a favor and start improving your relationships today…Thoughts?

The Lost Art of Brevity

By Mike Myatt, Chief Strategy Officer, N2growth

The Power of BrevityDo you ever grow weary of listening to the verbose, or reading the work of those that have issues with clear articulation? I certainly do…but fear not; the lost art of brevity is making a comeback. Those of you that know me have come to understand that I prefer to cut to the chase. I like to get to the root of an issue as quickly as possible. While I appreciate the great oratory skills of those who communicate using wonderful word pictures, or the academics who can wax eloquent while always using the best form of prose, I prefer my business communication to be quick and dirty. In the immortal words of Jack Webb: “The facts ma’am…just the facts.” In today’s post I’ll look at the benefits associated with the resurgence of brevity.

Let me begin clearly stating that it is not my goal to be perceived as a word-basher.  I appreciate anyone who has command of a great vocabulary, but I don’t have time for a 30 minute explanation of something that could have been, and should have been, communicated in 2 minutes. Brevity is rare because it takes both skill and effort to simplify the complex. It’s easier to remain ethereal, vague and ambiguous than it is to communicate with purpose and clarity. My message today is a simple one – refining your communications skill is well worth the effort. Don’t be the person known for rambling on, be the person known for being articulate and to the point.

Probably the greatest example of the power of brevity comes from what is widely considered to be the greatest speech in American history: “The Gettysburg Address.” President Lincoln’s speech was only 10 sentences long (272 words), and lasted less than a mere 3 minutes in length. Contrast Lincoln’s brilliant example of the power of brevity with the keynote speech that day. The renowned orator Edward Everett preceded President Lincoln on the podium at Gettysburg. Everett’s speech was an amazing two hours in length. He was after all the President of Harvard, but I digress…My question is this: which speech was more effective, and more memorable? Ah, the power of brevity…

The good news is that there are two big trends emboldening those of us who prefer brevity over other more irritating forms of communication. First is the time pressure for our attention. People simply don’t have the time to listen to, or read, unnecessarily long forms of communication. The second trend is technology’s recognition of the first trend. Emails, voicemails, instant messages, text messages, blogs, Tweets, Facebook updates, etc., simply don’t lend themselves to the indulgence of pompous grandeur.

If you think I’m joking when I mention Twitter, think again. If you want to become a better writer and refine your sense of brevity, all you have to do is to start Tweeting. Regardless of how you feel about Twitter as a platform or practice, it is brilliant in its mandate of brevity. Twitter requires that all your communication be conducted in 140 characters (including punctuation and spaces) or less. Even given this stringent requirement, some of the most intriguing, complex, savvy, and sometimes ridiculous thoughts are being expressed at a rapidly growing pace. In 140 characters or less, elections are influenced, news is being broken, relationships are being created and expanded, brands are being built, trust is being build, influence is being generated, and products & services are being sold. Don’t underestimate the power of brevity.

One of my favorite lines from Shakespeare’s Hamlet is “Brevity is the soul of wit,” and if you examine those people in your life you respect the most I’m certain you’ll find they do justice to Shakespeare’s ideal. If you require one last example of the power of brevity, let me ask you to examine the incredible influence that something as brief as a simple quote can have. Think about how often a sentence or two written down in the form of a quote has created a legacy long surpassing many more complex and lengthy works. Most people can cite several of Mark Twain’s quotes, but only a few of his books.

So, how do you know if you’re guilty of contributing to the destruction of brevity? If you exhibit any of the tell-tale signs below you may want to seek out some help:

  1. If your tag-line is more than 4 words in length;
  2. If the most frequently used words in your vocabulary are “and,” “um” & “but;”
  3. If people are consistently dozing off during your keynote;
  4. If the bailout rate on your webcasts are high;
  5. If use of the scroll bar is a requirement for reading your email;
  6. If you run out of time leaving a voicemail message….
  7. If you kill your cell phone battery with one conversation…
  8. If your PowerPoint slides need to be read instead of viewed;
  9. If you URL is so long that it confuses people, and;
  10. If you need a teleprompter to deliver a speech.

Bottom line…I’m in awe of those who have mastered the art of brevity, and after looking back at this post I must admit that I still have some work to do…

Addiction Marketing

By Mike Myatt, Chief Strategy Officer, N2growth

Addiction Marketing” is a phrase I started using a few years back while waiting in line for my drink at Starbucks. I was observing the mass of people who seemed almost desperate for their daily (if not more frequent) fix of caffeine. It was at that moment I realized the real power of one of Starbucks key business drivers, if not their most critical business driver – Starbucks sells products that cater to peoples addictive tendencies. What Starbucks has done better than many other addictive marketers is that they also make it cool and trendy to succumb to your addiction. In today’s blog post I’ll examine addiction as a key success factor in business.

Brands have always catered to our emotions viewing them as associative triggers – the tactics I’m describing are clearly not new. That said, has this practice crossed the line when addictive tendencies are being exploited for profit? Is this just creative branding and intelligent marketing, or are we merely sheep being led to slaughter? My intent is not to make judgments or draw conclusions, but rather just to have you wrestle with the following question: Are you an addict, pusher, or both, and if so, how do you feel about it?

When I was in school economics professors would lecture on using supply and demand drivers to create a business advantage, business professors would evangelize the strengths of the recurring value and stability of consumable products, marketing professors would espouse the benefits of customer loyalty and relationship marketing, but nowhere do I recall being able to register for a business class on addiction. However if you think about “Addiction Marketing” you’ll quickly realize what the “media pushers” on Madison Avenue and the product development and marketing gurus in the corporate world have known for years – all people have their unique set of vulnerabilities, which when creatively and effectively exploited will lead to strong sales and powerful brands.

In thinking about this topic with respect to media coverage, I recall that a few years back the Indian government was attempting to force Coca Cola and Pepsi to divulge the formulas to their popular beverage products. One of the charges being levied in the Indian High Court was that Coke and Pepsi products were addictive and unhealthy, Hmmm…More recently there have been a number of energy drinks and dietary supplements that have been pulled from retail shelves because of health hazards posed by addictive consumption.

Examine the following representative list of successful businesses and/or industries and come to your own conclusions as to whether these businesses or industries prey on the addictions of consumers world-wide to generate their revenue:

Las Vegas - The tagline “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” caters to virtually every possible addiction under the sun…Sin City lives up to its reputation.

Tag Body Spray - Tag’s recent commercial campaign has taken the phrase “Sex Sells” to a whole new level. In these campaigns all an adolescent male needs to do is to spray himself with the Tag product and he finds himself instantly being attacked by hordes of attractive young women. If you have a teenage son, it would be a safe bet that Tag is his cologne of choice.

The Beer and Alcohol Industry - You will be hard pressed to find a beer or alcohol company that doesn’t portray consumption of their beverage as the key ingredient to a lifestyle of fast cars, beautiful women, successful careers, etc.

The Tobacco Industry - The tobacco industry has been publicly hammered for selling products that leverage the addictive effects of Nicotine, and even with all the known health hazards smokers face, in many instances the addictive nature of the product is greater than peoples ability to make a logical decision.

I don’t think anyone will dispute the examples noted in the above list as obviously preying on consumer’s addictive tendencies. However what about the more subtle side of the addiction business? Isn’t Starbucks using the same addictive business tactics as those industries listed above? What about other fast food outlets? What about companies in the luxury products sector? Companies that sell high end products and services cater to the elitist attitudes of this segment allowing consumers to make statements about their socioeconomic status based on the products they purchase. Is this not also catering to addictive tendencies?

Okay, now I’ll hit a little closer to home and turn the spotlight on myself. What about my company’s value proposition? We sell success… Is it not possible to look at success as being an addiction? How about the social networking industry? Are social networkers and bloggers addicted to the interaction, attention, etc. that the social media platform affords? While I could go on, I think my point has been made.

I’m certainly not implying that all consumers are addicts, nor am I implying that all companies are “pushers,” but I am pointing out that addiction marketing sells and that many companies use this as a strategic advantage. In fact, I believe the evidence is clear that a business can create a strong strategic advantage in sustainability if they find no ethical flaw in what I’ve coined as “Addiction Marketing”.

The bottom line is that I love to travel and watch movies and I don’t think it makes me an escapist. I have a penchant for Starbucks, venti caramel frappacinos in particular and I don’t think I’m a caffeine addict (perhaps a sugar addict), and I appreciate fine clothes & quality automobiles and I don’t believe that makes me a social elitist. However I have also come to realize that my perceived addictive tendencies are clearly attempting to be preyed upon by creative and intelligent marketing and product development efforts. I’ll leave you with the following questions to ponder:

  • What is the difference between pleasure and addiction?
  • Do you feel “Addiction Marketing” is ethical?
  • Does your company partake in addictive marketing strategies and tactics? And;
  • When was the last time you made a purchase based upon your addiction?

Thoughts?