Tag Archives: Leaders

The Dramatic Downfall of Former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn Shows 3 Pitfalls All Leaders Should Avoid
January 10, 2019 12:13 pm|Comments (0)

Why would somebody who had achieved so much risk everything by flaunting the rules?

Unfortunately, Ghosn is just the latest case of poor decision-making in the C-suite that has gone unchecked. Another recent example is Elon Musk, an incredible visionary who consolidated power as chairman and CEO of Tesla, then was forced to give up his chairman role after making inappropriate social media posts about taking the company private.

There is a lesson here: Passion and vision are vital to success in business, but they are not everything. There is a reason that barely half of all companies in the S&P 500 Index combine the roles of chair and CEO in one person. Absolute power corrupts.

That’s why, rather than insulating themselves from balancing influences, smart leaders build support systems that minimize their weaknesses and help them avoid falling prey to corrupting influences.

If you aspire to be a top leader in your field, here’s how you can follow that path of success.

Build a team of rivals.

One of the biggest mistakes powerful people can make is to surround themselves with colleagues who create an echo chamber, rather than with people who question ideas and push them to improve. Steve Jobs wanted to be challenged by Apple’s best and brightest; he said that when team members debate, “they polish each other, and they polish the ideas.

Jobs believed that team members needed to get comfortable with conflict to drive each other to do better. And, he was right. Building a culture of productive conflict keeps leaders sharp. The best team will take your strong ideas further and rein you in when you are headed in the wrong direction. If you build a team of enablers who support your every move, you will begin to think you are infallible. In mild cases, that mindset can inhibit growth; in cases like Ghosn’s, it can derail careers and tarnish legacies.

Think candidly about the people around you. Do they feel empowered to challenge you and polish your ideas? Have you done enough to promote productive conflict on your leadership team? The answer to those questions will determine the health of your organization.

Hire people who complement your weaknesses.

The best leaders are self-aware enough to know their own weaknesses and to gravitate toward people who minimize those shortcomings. Former Disney CEO Michael Eisner and President Frank Wells built a brilliant partnership because they complemented each other perfectly: Eisner was the visionary strategist, and Wells was the practical executor. Together they transformed the entertainment industry.

People are often drawn to those who are similar to them, but it is vital to widen your perspective. Colleagues with different backgrounds and skill sets can remind you of consequences you have not considered and provide viewpoints or ideas that might tip the scales in taking your business from good to great.

Establish clear governance.

Though it is less visible, a company’s governance can be just as important as its culture and vision. Make sure to have a strong legal team and consult with auditors to keep your business compliant with the highest standards. You should be following best practices long before anyone starts watching.

It can be easy to lose sight of governance, especially when pursuing exponential growth. Leaders have a responsibility to set the example. If employees see their supervisors treating governance as a low priority, they will be more prone to misconduct. What you permit is what you promote.

Remember that the consequences for ignoring governance can affect companies on a grand scale. Already, Ghosn’s behavior at Nissan has created tension in the valuable partnership between Nissan and Renault, an issue that could ultimately damage both companies.  

One of the challenges of success is that each accomplishment brings new problems to solve. It is all too common for highly successful people to think that they are infallible, that they are the smartest person in every room, and that the rules do not apply to them. Leaders owe it to themselves and their organizations to erect structures to guard against these pitfalls.

Do not fall prey to the corrupting influence of power. Surround yourself with people who challenge you to improve; hire employees who minimize your weaknesses; and remember the principles that govern your organization and keep your business honest. No matter what leaders achieve, they must continue to set an example for others to follow.

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What Trick-or-Treaters Do Better Than Most Leaders
November 7, 2018 12:00 pm|Comments (0)

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. I loved dressing up as a child and getting candy with my best friend. As I got older, I loved going to bars with friends in costumes. Now, as the father of a nearly teenage son, it’s different. Watching your kids get ready for Halloween can shed light on your own goals.

I’m surrounded by friends and clients making their dreams come true. They’re making big moves in all parts of their lives. I see what it takes to get what they want most. I’m in the trenches with entrepreneurs and leaders achieving amazing things. We talk about their strategies, team development and mindset.

The most innovative and impactful leaders think differently. Last week, I saw trick-or-treaters using smart strategies to load their bags with candy. Three of their approaches apply to your business, too:

1. Break the rules.

I loved talking to my son about his strategy to get the most candy. He wanted to create a reversible costume, with a ninja on one side and a ghost on the other. He saw the benefit of hitting each house twice. We talked about it for weeks. Let me be clear: I thought this was a terrible idea. However, I played along to encourage his creativity.

When was the last time you really thought about a new way to achieve your goals? The most comfortable strategies are the ones you’ve already used. You don’t try new strategies until you get frustrated enough to ditch your old ways.

While interviewing Mike Landman, CEO of RippleIT, I noticed how he thinks differently than his peers. His IT services business has become highly focused on digital agencies–a “niche-ing” strategy that’s not common in service businesses. He chose this approach to create client specific solutions that created more efficient results. The tactic took the company to No. 3013 on this year’s Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing companies in America.

A kid is willing to break rules to achieve his goals. I’m not suggesting you do anything illegal — I’m asking you to think about the rules you’ve accepted as fact. Much of our growth comes from being willing to look beyond the status quo.

2. Increase your focus.

It takes starting early and having a clear plan to haul in as much candy as my son did. He put in effort to collect what appears to be 11.2 pounds of candy.

I watched him construct and navigate his plan. He sharpened his focus as the night wore on. He started leaving his bag with me as he ran up driveways, jumping bushes to get to doors. I haven’t seen him put that much focus into anything before. He had one goal, and he was willing to do the work to achieve it.

As for you, you’re working hard — you’re probably swimming in work. I’m not here to tell you to work your face off in service of your company’s growth. I’m encouraging you to streamline your thinking to increase your focus.

Focus has become more important than intelligence. I find that my most impactful days start with a 90-minute session of work on the single most important project I have.

Many leaders just want to do more things, but the solution isn’t to do more. Look for ways to streamline your work to meet your primary goal for now.

3. Give up.

The morning after Halloween, I told my son that I wouldn’t eat any of his candy. I don’t say that because I respect his candy; I’m a firm believer in the “parent tax,” and if I wanted it, I would eat it.

I know my body, however, and eating crap makes me feel terrible. While I want the delicious taste of candy, I don’t want the feeling that follows — and that becomes my primary goal.

A significant aspect of a leader’s success is a willingness to give up what she wants right now to get what she wants most. We’re so emotionally connected to “easy” that we let the hard stuff scare us. 

I’ve had numerous clients give up checking email throughout the day. Giving up the need to check and respond at all moments of the day has created more intention toward their current work.

You can have most of the things you want, but you can’t have them all right now. You have to decide what’s most important and begin working on that. If you want something badly enough, you’re willing to give up what’s keeping you from getting there.

If you’re willing to commit to what you really want, giving up what’s keeping you stuck is easy. You don’t get what you deserve. You get what you work for — just like trick-or-treaters.

Tech

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LeBron James is a Superstar. But Great Leaders Use This Superior Strategy to Find Success
May 24, 2018 6:07 pm|Comments (0)

For anyone who follows NBA basketball, there’s a war going on right now.

One one side, there’s LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, struggling to overcome the incredible team-based play of the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Meanwhile, in the Western Conference, it’s exactly the same scenario.

The Golden State Warriors are loaded to the gills with superstars like Steph Curry and Kevin Durant, but they play like a well-oiled machine. James Harden, meanwhile, is one of the most talented players we’ve seen in years and a likely league MVP–his dribbling and shooting prowess makes you do a double-take. Yet, it’s hard to ignore the fact that everyone else on the Houston Rockets (except Chris Paul) is often on the court standing around, waiting to see what happens. Four teams, but two completely different strategies. We’ll soon find out which strategy will prevail in the next few days.

The war raging between “team” and “superstar” has been around awhile. In business, you might be tempted to rely on a small group of overachievers. Yet, nothing quite compares to a larger group of people all working together in perfect synergy.

I was watching the Cavaliers the other night and realized the “old school” approach of driving the lane, passing the ball to the superstar on almost every play, and hoping that one person scoring 42 points is a good strategy matches up perfectly with how some leaders operate in business. “Give the ball to the superstar” is a common tactic.  

It doesn’t really work, and part of the reason has to do with how teams function. In my own experience, individuals who can ramp up sales quickly are like a meme or a viral marketing video. It’s a big hit, but it doesn’t really lead to long-term success. I agree James is one of the best ever, but you could easily argue that one-guy-driving-the-lane has not worked. It has not helped the Cavs win an NBA Championship. Only when James surrounds himself with exemplary players, not pawns in a chess match, does he usually win the final series.

It won’t help your prospects as a leader, either. Teams in business who work together are far stronger, far more productive, and find far more success than a couple of greats.

Here’s an example of what I mean.

In one startup, I remember hiring someone who had exceptional graphic design skills. She could make Photoshop dance. And, she could crank out brochures and other items faster than anyone else. At meetings, she was always a little bored. But the other team members were also hungry to learn. Over an entire year, the other team members eventually learned how to use the design apps, shared ideas with each other, found workarounds, and built up their repertoire. In meetings, they would come up with far better ideas as a group. That one superstar was wildly talented, but had to rely on her own prowess.

Eventually, we ended up switching her to a different department, one that needed a solo producer. The rest of the team flourished, grew creatively, and became way more productive. There’s something about how a team of, say, five people working together creates more productivity than five individuals working alone. Each person fuels the entire team, generates new ideas, and pushes every project forward.

Watching the Cavs lately reminds me of that designer. Just give the ball to LeBron is not a great strategy against teams like the Boston Celtics. It becomes one against five. We’ll see how it all works out, but I’ll still hold to my view. Teams win in the end.

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IT leaders say it’s hard to keep the cloud safe
February 16, 2017 2:05 pm|Comments (0)

IT managers are finding it difficult to keep their applications and data safe in the cloud, and many are slowing cloud adoption because of it.

That was one of the findings of an Intel cloud security report that surveyed 2,000 IT professionals in different countries and industries last fall.

The issue isn’t with the cloud itself, since trust outnumbers distrust for public clouds by more than two to one, according to Intel’s survey.

IT professionals told Intel that shadow IT and a shortage of cybersecurity skills are causing the most problems.

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here


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Robotics tipping point: What business leaders and entrepreneurs need to know NOW (webinar)
November 9, 2015 3:00 am|Comments (0)

robots

VB WEBINAR:

Join us for this live webinar on Friday, September 25 at 10 a.m. Pacific, 1 p.m. Eastern. Register here for free. 

Silicon Valley is at the center of the perfect storm of robotics.

It’s at the center of the talent, the investment and the research, the center of the software and hardware industries — all key ecosystem components to build the robotics companies that need to rise to serve the world’s future.

But the event horizon to make that happen is something that needs to be considered in terms of decades, not the typical start-up timelines of a few months to a few years, according to Andra Keay. Keay is managing director of Silicon Valley Robotics, and one of the panelists in this upcoming webinar that will be shedding light on what businesses need to know now to take advantage of the evolution that’s reaching a tipping point.

“Robotics moves slowly but it’s been around a long time,” she says. “The industry has done a great job over the last 50 years of helping us to envision what uses we could make of robots and what that could mean to the quality of our life and our economy. Yet, few of those promises have yet been met.”

The problem, according to Keay is that our expectation of robotics has been inflated.

“We did it wrong. We’ve created this situation where we look at robots as humanoid,” Keay says. “There’s no way that robots have anything like the capability of a person. It’s just absolutely impossible in this century for a robot to replace a human in anything.”

That’s not to say that robotics technology isn’t already very much a part of our lives, or that now isn’t the right time for the industry to become more established and scale.

“Five years ago in the industry we said, OK, the time is right,” Keay says. “It’s clear that robotics is at a point where it’s time to move into new areas. Out of industry, out of research labs, into the service industry and into the home.”

Robotics technologies are well engrained in certain industries, like automotive. It’s just that, for the average person, it doesn’t feel like something that’s particularly close to home. For this reason, it’s easy for people to dismiss robotics as science fiction because it seems so far away and the tipping point moments so elusive.

Understanding what that future may actually look like comes back to understanding the technological and economic drivers that are making robotics peek right now.

Don’t miss out!  Learn more about Andra Keay’s vision for the future of robotics by tuning-in for the webinar “How robotics will change everything, including your business.”

Register here for free.

“In many cases it will be taking this ubiquitous connectivity that mobility computing delivers and making a gradual transition to products that are just that much more powerful and versatile,” Keay says. “It’s not going to be a disruption, but once in a while one of those devices will change in how we use it and that will lead to other changes. I think that, with time, robotics will account for the same kind of seismic shift that the internet and computers had in the 20th century.”

One popular belief is that the growth of robotic technology will inevitably equate to the loss of human jobs. But Keay says there is good reason to believe that the opposite will be true.

“Everywhere I look there are industries that have increased the number of robots that they employ. They’ve also increased the number of people that they employ,” she says. “An exciting vision of the future is that of the skilled mobile tradesperson. They’ll still drive a pickup or an SUV but instead of a leaf blower, or a power tool, they’re working with smarter tools that are used in applications to take care of robots.”

Keay sees a correlation between this future of robot builders and technicians and the opportunity to create small, regional pockets of highly-specialized, entrepreneurial manufacturers and service providers of a variety of stripes to support niche industrial and commercial requirements for robotic technology. “Robots increase the number of jobs that are needed and they also increase the productivity of a company that allow it to expand and create even more jobs,” she says. “That will create opportunities for a new class of entrepreneurs.”

Ultimately, the future of robotic technology means creating machines that augment, not replace, humans and socializing the idea that people can work with robots in an integrated fashion.

“Some of those fences are starting to come down as computing power and intelligent algorithms lead us to a better understanding of how people can work alongside robots,” Keay says. “To make a significant impact on our economy, we need to build a lot of robots because there are not that many out there today.”

“People need to build them and people need to maintain them and the only way we can do that is to create opportunities for the industry to grow in Silicon Valley and elsewhere.”

What you’ll learn:

  • The key consumer and commercial applications of robots and drones
  • The role robots will play in societies and economies
  • How smartphone technologies will pave the way to robotics’ future
  • How cognitive technologies will transform our lives and business
  • The foundation of many IoT applications in shaping the way to robotics

Speakers:

Jim McGregor, Principal Analyst, Tirias Research
Andra Keay, Managing Director of Silicon Valley Robotics
Anthony Lewis, Senior Director of Technology, Qualcomm
Maged Zaki, Director of Technical Marketing, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.

This webinar is sponsored by Qualcomm.



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