Why Your CEO Just Doesn’t Get It

By Mike Myatt
Chairman, N2growth

* This column was originally published on Forbes.com

Quality leadership or a lack thereof is easy to spot if you know what to look for. The problem is most people don’t know what to look for in a leader, and according to a recent study by Chief Executive magazine many CEOs don’t seem to know what to look for either.

While I probably shouldn’t have been surprised, I will admit to being absolutely stunned as I reviewed the results of a survey published in the January/February 2014 edition of Chief Executive in which respondents (sitting CEOs) ranked the top 10 skills needed for effective leadership.  Following are the results in descending order of importance:

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Jay Leno: How To Say Goodbye

By John Baldoni
Chair, Leadership Development, N2Growth

All of us want to be wanted by others, and when we are in a leadership position sometimes that feeling of being wanted morphs into a cloying sense of clinging, hanging on just to hang on. We are unwilling to let go even when common sense would tell us that the people we have groomed to lead are fully ready.

 

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Reinventing Vermeer

By Brian Layer
Chief Executive Officer, N2growth

Tim’s Vermeer is a riveting documentary about inventor Tim Jenison’s quest to understand the genius of Dutch Master Johannes Vermeer.  The film chronicles Jenison’s discovery of a technique Vermeer may have used to create his photo-realistic paintings prior to the invention of photography.

History offers few clues to Vermeer’s life.  Most art experts have cited a genius of vision—the ability to see and paint reflected light in a singular way.  Jenison offers a different view; Vermeer’s genius may have been in his technique rather than in his eye.  He shows how turning a mirror to 45 degrees, any artist can perfectly match the hues on his canvas to the color of his object.  Matching the brush strokes is a bridge too far but Jenison replicates the reflected light that made Vermeer unique.

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Mary Barra: The Right Engineer At The Right Time

By John Baldoni
Chair, Leadership Development, N2Growth

“I… believe if you have a problem you better solve it. Because if you don’t solve it, you won’t be here or the company won’t be here.”

That’s what Mary Barra told Bill Vlasic of the New York Times about her approach to helping General Motors survive and thrive in the coming years. While much attention as been rightly paid to Ms. Barra because of her gender – she’s the first woman to head a major automaker – too many commentators have overlooked her background. She’s an engineer by education – a graduate of GM’s Kettering Institute – as well as experience, growing up in manufacturing before attracting the attention of senior management. Barra recently headed HR as well as product development.

 

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Ford Motor Company: How Leadership Takes Risks

By John Baldoni
Chair, Leadership Development, N2growth

Roll the dice!

That’s what leaders must do from time to time. And it is what Ford Motor Company  (for whom I have consulted) has experience in doing. In 2006, it hocked itself, including its logo, to raise funding to keep the company going. The ploy succeeded, and today Ford is registering record profits and so it is rolling the dice again with the pending launch of an all-new Ford F-150 pickup. F-Series is truck that has kept the company afloat for decades, particularly when its car sales were flagging. Today the F-Series is the number one selling vehicle in America and has been for more than thirty years. The new truck will feature many new features as well as one big loss – 700 pounds worth. The new F-Series will feature an aluminum body panels that will be stronger and lighter, but will face a perception test with consumers. Truck buyers are traditionalists and whether they will opt for a truck made of aluminum will be a big decision.

 

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Best Talent You Have May Be Right Under Your Nose

By John Baldoni
Chair, Leadership Development, N2Growth

While you can argue that someone content with his lot deserves stasis, too often we have seen very talented individuals get overlooked by their managers and as a result stay put. These are very often the folks that make their organizations tick over; metaphorically they make the trains run on time, but even better they put the cars in the train together so that they deliver the goods (or services) customers need.

Image used under Creative Commons by chase_elliott.

 

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Solution = Conflict + Collaboration

~ John Baldoni

Governor Christie: Leadership Begins With A Look In The Mirror

By John Baldoni
Chair, Leadership Development, N2growth

Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?

Legend – as well as Shakespeare — has it that Henry II said something to this effect in fit of pique directed toward his one-time good friend and loyal civil servant Thomas a Becket, the archbishop of Canterbury. The King was vexed over Becket’s refusal to subjugate church authority to the state and Henry sought to limit Becket’s influence. In time, Henry’s henchmen travel to Canterbury thinking they are doing the King a favor and slay Becket in the cathedral.

I cite Henry’s behavior frequently in my coaching with senior executives as a means of cautioning them to watch their words. Its theme resonates today in the unfolding drama of Governor Chris Christie and traffic jams near the Fort Lee entrance to the George Washington Bridge. At the moment it appears as if loyal aides conjured up the traffic jam as a means of getting back at the mayor of Fort Lee who was not a supporter of the governor in his re-election bid last fall. One of whom, Bridget Anne Kelly, his deputy, has been axed.

 

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Tolerance Versus Free Speech – Keeping The Main Thing The Main Thing

By Mike Myatt
Chairman, N2growth 

* This column was originally published on Forbes.com

I have watched quietly, curiously, and with great interest the intense emotions surrounding the controversy with regard to recent comments made by Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson in the January issue of GQ. In today’s column, I question whether or not there should have been a controversy at all.

 

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Tough Conversation: What To Do When Your Star Hits The Wall

By John Baldoni
Chair, Leadership Development, N2growth

I don’t want any outside help.

That comment summarizes the attitude that Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford has about seeking the help of a “quarterback guru.” As Stafford said, “It’s not something that I feel would be my style or beneficial to me.”

Stafford’s indifference to seeking help puts him in the mainstream of many successful people. One of the characteristics that achievers demonstrate is an ability to go their own way and figure things out for themselves. But, as my friend Marshall Goldsmith reminds us in his book, What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There, too often high achievers fail at the highest level, not because of their intellect, but because of their ego.  It is simply too big to allow anyone – or anything – else inside.

 

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