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Golden Oldies: Book Review: Managing Leadership

January 16th, 2017 by Miki Saxon

managing-leadership

It’s amazing to me, but looking back over more than a decade of writing I find posts that still impress, with information that is as useful now as when it was written.

Golden Oldies is a collection of what I consider some of the best posts during that time.

I’m not a fan of the leadership industry; I think it has corrupted the whole notion of leadership. Anybody/everybody can be leaders at a given moment. Life changes and Jim Stroup, who wrote Managing Leadership, one of the best blogs on that subject stopped writing a couple of years ago. But all his wonderful posts are at the link and he also wrote an excellent book on the subject.

Read other Golden Oldies here.

During a conversation about positional leadership Richard Barrett said, “Reminds me of a Seinfeld joke. He pointed to professional sports teams and asked about team loyalty. The players change, the coaches change, and sometimes even the stadium changes. So, the people are really loyal to the logos on the team uniforms, just a pile of laundry. Maybe positional leadership is just laundry leadership?”

I like that—laundry leadership. Great term.

So what’s available instead of laundry leadership, especially these days when so much of the laundry is dirty?

Why not organizational leadership? Leadership that percolates from every nook and cranny of the enterprise driving innovation and productivity far beyond the norm.

Following this to its natural conclusion makes leadership a corporate asset and one that needs to be managed for it to have the highest possible impact.

Jim Stroup, whose blog I love, is a major proponent of this idea and defines and explains it in his book Managing Leadership: Toward a New and Usable Understanding of What Leadership Really Is And How To Manage It.

Of all the leadership books, Managing Leadership is the first book I’ve seen that breaks with the accepted idea of the larger-than-life leader whose visions people embrace and follow almost blindly.

Stroup says today’s corporations are far too complex for one person to know everything; that, given a chance, leadership will come naturally and unstoppably from all parts and levels of the organization making it a characteristic of the organization, rather than one person’s crown.

Sadly, fear makes the idea that leadership comes from all people at all levels and should be managed to make the most of it anathema to many senior managers; they consider leadership a perk of seniority and prefer squashing it when the source doesn’t occupy the ‘correct’ position.

I highly recommend Jim’s book. Even if the management above you doesn’t embrace this paradigm, you can within your own group. Encourage your people to take the initiative, guide them as needed, then get out of the way and watch them fly.

If the Shoe Fits: Keep The Best — Get Rid Of The Rest

January 13th, 2017 by Miki Saxon

A Friday series exploring Startups and the people who make them go. Read all If the Shoe Fits posts here.

5726760809_bf0bf0f558_mAs I’ve said before, Steve Jobs may be a good role model for building a company, but not for building a culture.

Just think what would you could build if you combined the best of Apple’s culture with the best of cultural benchmarks — the way Pearl Automation is doing.

Founded in 2014 by three former senior managers from Apple’s iPod and iPhone groups, Pearl has tried to replicate what its leaders view as the best parts of Apple’s culture, like its fanatical dedication to quality and beautiful design. But the founders also consciously rejected some of the less appealing aspects of life at Apple, like its legendary secrecy and top-down management style.

Pearl’s cultural focus is totally inclusive, based on the idea that, since, every employee is contributing to its success, every employee has a “need to know.”

The start-up, which makes high-tech accessories for cars, holds weekly meetings with its entire staff. Managers brief them on coming products, company finances, technical problems, even the presentations made to the board.

Of course, the first thing you need to do is accept that you are not Steve Jobs.

The next thing is to understand that both creativity and failure are necessary to succeed.

Eswar Priyadarshan, who sold his mobile advertising company, Quattro Wireless, to Apple in 2010 and stayed for four years, said that he learned about design and aesthetics during his time there. But he noted that Apple’s high compensation, focused product mission and top-down decision-making tended to damp the risk-taking necessary to start a company.

Mr. Priyadarshan, who is now chief executive of BotCentral, a six-person start-up, compared Apple to a community of warrior monks. “Warrior monks don’t talk and do whatever is asked,” he said.

The actual question you need to answer is: do you want to lead a team of warrior monks or are you more excited about herding a team of innovative, quirky, creative cats.

Image credit: HikingArtist

Ryan’s Journal: Why Does Culture Matter?

January 12th, 2017 by Ryan Pew

http://www.fairwarning.com/For those of you who may have read my introduction I stated that my main question I want to always ask is ‘why’.

I learned this mostly through trial and error as I entered the workplace. I had the opportunity to see this inside of companies and organizations and better understand what made them succeed, or fail. The simple answer was and continues to be culture.

Why have some companies with all the talent in the world failed? Why do some people address hardships with a will to succeed rather than sit back and wallow? Why do those who have made it to the top of their profession continue to push themselves? I think it boils down to the mindset of the individual, who then influences the greater group.

I work within the MedTech industry, specifically within the cybersecurity sector. My company, FairWarning, looks at user behavior to determine who the bad actors are, so that you can have confidence that when you seek treatment your records will remain confidential.

You would expect that due to the fact that our mission is to determine who is stealing data and identify it our leadership would treat most people with suspicion. It is only natural, we see bad actors everyday! However, that could not be further from the truth.

I had an opportunity to speak with our leadership about why that is. How is it that the organization which only exists to prevent abuse and misuse of confidential materials can not have a negative outlook on life and people?

The answer surprised me. My company is privately owned by our CEO who founded it. He has the “pull yourself up by your bootstraps through hard work” mentality. He told me that his outlook on life stems from the fact that as an individual you can always make a choice to do the right thing moving forward.

A person always has the opportunity to start today with a clean slate moving forward. The expectation is that every day should be better than the last. Now this doesn’t mean there are no consequences for actions, but it does mean that there are no lost individuals. That at the root of it is the culture of my company and it influences every action I and my teammates make everyday.

Why does that one mindset impact the rest of the group?

Part of it, of course, is the fact that he started and led the company successfully. The other part though, which, in my opinion, matters more, is that he has remained consistent and transparent.

If he only applied that mindset to people selectively or didn’t live it himself then it would not truly be culture. It would be some mission statement that sounds great but has no impact.

As I continue exploring this topic I will speak to others about what influences their decisions and how they came to those conclusions.

Until next week continue asking and seeking.

Image credit: Marko / Zak

Bill O’Reilly On Loyalty

January 11th, 2017 by Miki Saxon

https://www.flickr.com/photos/donkeyhotey/5335084162/

There is much talk about Megyn Kelly’s announced move from Fox News to NBC last week, but that’s not what this post is about.

It’s about Bill O’Reilly’s twisted thoughts on what constitutes loyalty.

“I’m not interested in making my network look bad.”

Later that day, he continued the thought in a commentary on his own show in which he appeared to question Ms. Kelly’s loyalty to Fox by saying, without naming her: “If somebody is paying you a wage, you owe that person or company allegiance. If you don’t like what’s happening in the workplace, go to human resources or leave.”

Agreeing with O’Reily means that if your boss hits, grabs, gropes, insults, harasses, etc., your only recourse is to tell a person/department that too often has little-to-no power, and sometimes no interest, in fixing the problem or get out of Dodge — even if it means breaking your contract.

Read anything about professional loyalty and you’ll find that it is the company’s responsibility to give people a reason to be loyal.

Reasons include a workplace that don’t tolerate any type of harassment no matter who it is from — up to and including the CEO.

Additional reasons include fairness and respect, although there are many others.

We do owe loyalty (and protection) to ourselves, but I don’t believe anyone owes loyalty to a a person or company where they have to constantly look out, whether for a knife in the back or death by a thousand cuts.

Flickr image credit: DonkeyHotey

January Dose Of Leadership

January 10th, 2017 by Miki Saxon

The monthly Leadership Development Carnival provides you with two useful things.

First, good info on a variety of “wetware” (AKA, people) issues, such as culture, leadership, management, etc.

Second, it introduces you to solid sources on these subjects with whom you may be unfamiliar.

So dig in and garner the intel that will help make 2017 a banner year for you.

So without further ado, here is the January 2017 Leadership Development Carnival.

leadership-development-carnival

Art Petty submitted Leveling Up to Change is THE Issue. Art summarizes, “For all of us, the need to help our firms navigate change while doing the same in our careers defines our level-up challenge.” Follow Art on Twitter at @artpetty.

Beth Beutler of H.O.P.E. Unlimited provided The Day I Messed Up. Beth recaps, “This post elaborates on some thoughts about when the mistake is your own.” Find Beth on Twitter at @bethbeutler.

Chris Edmonds of the Purposeful Culture Group contributed Culture Leadership Charge: The Right Culture Matters. In this post, Chris shares a real-world example of a client that did some “culture refinement” to improve employee engagement and customer service. Follow Chris on Twitter at @scedmonds.

Dana Theus of InPower Coaching contributed Workplace Advice-Why Should I Bother Feeling Grateful For a Crappy Boss?. Dana writes, “When you have a tough work situation, finding ways to feel gratitude and appreciation can go a long way to turning the situation around, but is it really the best strategy? Often gratitude is the last thing you feel. Here’s how effective leaders approach gratitude in tough situations.” Find Dana on Twitter at @DanaTheus.

David Dye of Trailblaze submitted How to Lead When Everything Goes Crazy. David summarizes, “People act irrationally, circumstances change, and the truly unforeseeable happens. The good news is that you don’t need a specific step-by-step plan for the infinite number of problems you might face. David shares a better way to meet your leadership challenges.” Follow David on Twitter at @davidmdye.

David Grossman of The Grossman Group shared 7 Things Every Employee Wants from Their Boss. David writes, “What do employees want? While the answer varies by employee, our research and work reveals a collective ‘wish list’ every boss should know. Best of all, everything on the wish list is free.” Discover David on Twitter at @thoughtpartner.

Jill Malleck of Epiphany at Work contributed Everyday Recognition Matters Most. Jill shares, “At year-end leaders often think about how to thank their teams. The best leaders weave recognition into every day so that no one feels undervalued.” Find Jill on Twitter at @epiphanyatwork.

Jesse Lyn Stoner of the Seapoint Center shared Do an Ethics Check to Navigate the Gray Zone. Jesse Lyn recaps, “It’s easy to know what’s ethical when your choices are clear-cut. But there’s a huge gray zone where the choices are not so clear. Ethical decision-making can be challenging in our personal lives. And, when you are in a role that impacts others, it becomes even more critical. Use these 3 questions to provide ethical leadership through the gray zone.” Follow Jesse Lyn on Twitter at @JesseLynStoner.

Jim Taggart of Changing Winds provided Why America is Good and Great. Jim shares, “I chose this particular post because it’s about personal leadership and ordinary people stepping up to do good for society with no expectation of any form of remuneration. The setting happens to be the United States for my post, from the perspective of a Canadian. Given all the negativity in the media, we need to reflect on the good acts that people do each and every day.” Find Jim on Twitter at @72keys.

Joel Garfinkle of the Career Advancement Blog submitted The 16 Ways to Improve Your Work Performance in 2017. Joel recaps: “Learn the 16 ways to improve your work performance in 2017. These tips will help you start 2017 with a great year.” Discover Joel on Twitter at @JoelGarfinkle.

John Hunter of the Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog shared Podcast: Increasing the Capability of the Organization. John summarizes, “Changing how organizations are managed makes a huge difference in people’s lives. When this is done well people can go from dreading going to work to enjoying going to work, not every single day – but most days.  And it can change our lives so that most of the time we are doing things that we find valuable and we enjoy instead of just going to work to get a paycheck so we can enjoy the hours that we have away from work.” Find John on Twitter at @curiouscat_com.

Jon Mertz of Thin Difference contributed Join One20: A Day to Do Good. Jon shares, “Our country is divided. It’s time to heal our wound. On election day we need to show our good side, our good character, and do some good in our communities.” Follow Jon on Twitter at @thindifference.

Jon Verbeck of JonVerbeck.com provided The Key is Profit. In this post, Virtual CFO Jon Verbeck helps readers get back to basics—explaining that we’re in business to make a profit (which can help us do good things). Business owners must not ignore the goal of making a profit. Find Jon on Twitter at @jonverbeck1.

Julie Winkle-Giulioni of Julie Winkle-Giulioni provided The Magic of Making an Effort Julie recaps, “In a world where perfection and achievement are the eternal standard, effort might count for a lot more than many of us realize.” Find Julie on Twitter at @julie_wg.

Karin Hurt of Let’s Grow Leaders contributed 5 Questions to Help You Resolve Your Conflict. In the post, Karin reflects on a conflict that happened over the holidays, and what she and David Dye learned from it. Follow Karin on Twitter at @letsgrowleaders.

Linda Fisher Thornton of Leading in Context submitted Ethical Leadership is a Fear-Free Zone. Linda summarizes, “Fear is the toxic ingredient in many failed leadership strategies. In a fearful mode we may ‘rule out’ positive strategies that would help us solve collective problems – including dialogue, cooperation, long-term thinking and listening to understand.” Follow Linda on Twitter at @leadingincontxt.

Marcella Bremer of Leadership and Change Magazine provided The 21 Best Articles on Positive Leadership, Culture, and Change. Marcella recaps, “I support positive organizations where both people and performance thrive. Positive organizations are better at change, more innovative, competitive, profitable, and they contribute to the world – while engaged people spread their positive vibes everywhere. Here’s a list of my best liked 21 articles to date- which do you like best?” Find Marcella on Twitter at @marcellabremer.

Mary Jo Asmus of Aspire Collaborative Services LLC submitted Ten Daily Practices that Show Respect to Your Team. Mary Jo summarizes, “Showing respect for your team helps them to be motivated, dedicated and loyal. The word gets out and you become a talent magnet. Here are some great ways to show your respect on a daily basis.” Follow Mary Jo on Twitter at @mjasmus.

Mary Ila Ward of Horizon Point Consulting contributed Bridging the Divide… Education for the Future. She recaps, “A country divided is what we are all hearing. I’m tired of hearing it, aren’t you? But as I examine the problem, I realize, like we all are, I am a part of it. So let’s do something about it! The solution is education!” Discover Mary Ila on Twitter at @maryilaward.

Mary Schaefer of Artemis Path, Inc. submitted One Way to be the Change You Want to See in Your Life. Mary summarizes, “You want to eliminate an unhelpful habit, address a hot-button issue or negotiate a change at work. You can take charge. Practice making a challenging change. There’s no substitute for firsthand experience.” Follow Mary on Twitter at @maryschaefer.

Miki Saxon of MAPping Company Success contributed 56 Words That Will Change Your Life. Miki writes, “The best advice isn’t complex or filled with multi-syllabic words. It is simple to understand and takes hard work to implement it consistently. However, the payoff is definitely worth the effort.” Discover Miki on Twitter at @optionsanity.

Neal Burgis of Burgis Successful Solutions submitted Happy New Year 2017: A Change to Be Creative in Your Business. Neal recaps, “With the New Year, change takes place. Here is your opportunity to boost your idea for creating and producing a breakthrough result of your own. These tips will help you move forward in your creativity and profit from what you create.” Find Neal on Twitter at @exec_solutions.

Paul LaRue of The UPwards Leader contributed 20+1 Thoughts for Reinventing Your Leadership. Paul summarizes, “Even leaders can get stuck in a rut of ineffective and stale leadership. Here are some quick thoughts to turn yourself around and reinvent your leadership impact.” Follow Paul on Twitter at @paul_larue.

Paula Kiger of Big Green Pen submitted Six Lessons from Six Years. Paula summarizes, “Although Rakan Stormer did not reach adulthood and become a leader in business, public service, or the arts, his life taught lessons every leader should heed.” Follow Paula on Twitter at @biggreenpen.

Randy Conley of Leading With Trust shared Too Many Priorities? 3 Tips to Focus on What Matters Most. Randy writes, “The excitement of starting off a new year can cause us to set too many goals that we don’t have a realistic chance of completing. That leads to us feeling ‘over:’ overwhelmed, overcommitted, and overstressed. To avoid feeling “over” in 2017, Randy Conley offers 3 tips to focus on what matters most.” Find Randy on Twitter at @randyconley.

Russ White and Jay Anderson of Development Dimensions International (DDI) shared Agile Ready Leaders Get Their Start in Kindergarten. Russ and Jay write, “To lead a cultural transformation to Agile, leaders require a very specific mindset. In this post, we discuss the four tenets of leading in an agile environment: Be Honest, Be Kind, Be Responsible, and Work in Small Increments.” Find Russ and Jay on Twitter at @ddiworld.

Shelley Row of Shelley Row submitted Come Out of the Closet: 4 Ways to Talk About Intuition at Work. About this piece, Shelley says, “We sometimes look down on ‘intuition’ as a reliable way to make business decisions, but intuition is an important part of the process.”  Discover Shelley on Twitter at @shelleyrow.

Susan Mazza of Random Acts of Leadership provided How to Find a Mentor. Susan explains, “Potential mentors are all around you. You may even have one or more, and simply have not recognized them for their role as a mentor in your life. If you are in search of a mentor, often all you need to do is look around you and ask for the support you need.” Follow Susan on Twitter at @susanmazza.

Tanveer Naseer of Tanveer Naseer submitted A Year-End Note Of Inspiration To Keep Pushing Ahead. Tanveer explains the post is “an end-of-year note to inspire leaders to challenge their outlook and understanding for how they will empower the best in those they lead.” Discover Tanveer on Twitter at @tanveernaseer.

Wally Bock of Three Star Leadership submitted Learning to Lead. Wally recaps, “Learning to lead isn’t easy or automatic and it’s sometimes painful. But that’s the only way to get better.” Find Wally on Twitter at @wallybock.

Golden Oldies: It’s All In How You See It

January 9th, 2017 by Miki Saxon

It’s amazing to me, but looking back over more than a decade of writing I find posts that still impress, with information that is as useful now as when it was written.

Golden Oldies is a collection of what I consider some of the best posts during that time.

You hear a lot about “context” these days; mostly people claiming that their comments were taken “out of context” or some variation of that. People are very aware of context, but seem to forget about “perception.”  Context, in or out of, doesn’t really matter; what matters is the perception, whether your own or others. The recent campaign, no matter what side you were on, is a good example of how perception trumps everything.

Read other Golden Oldies here.

There is an ongoing debate in academic, and other, circles as to whether or not humans have free will.

Reading the latest arguments made for an interesting break, but my final reaction was, “Who cares.” However, the manager with whom I was discussing it was thoroughly upset and demanded to know how I could think that. He said that if he had no free will then all his efforts to improve had no value, since the results were predetermined, it didn’t matter what he did. (Hey, we all have bad days.)

When I explained why I thought his reaction was way out in left field, he said I should blog the answer, that it would do other’s a lot of good, so I did.

Primarily, I don’t care because I’ve found that everything is a matter of perception, and that for every person who proclaims TRUTH (in capitals), there is a counter perception held just as vehemently by someone else.

When people seek to improve/change skills, attitudes or whatever, they do so because they perceive a benefit in doing so, whether there actually is one of not is beside the point.

Fortunately, or not, no matter what the perception, one can find like-minded people who share it—the Earth is round, but not to everybody.

Life lasts a certain amount of time and all lives have highs and lows, but it’s the perception of the individual that determines which is which.

In other words, the choice is yours.

Ryan’s Journal: Meet Ryan Pew

January 5th, 2017 by Miki Saxon

I e-met Ryan through business dealings that led to several long, intelligent, wide-ranging conversations. I found Ryan thoughtful, knowledgeable, and wonderfully verbal. I asked him if he would be interested in writing a weekly post and, happily, he said yes.

I think you will find his views interesting; he is a Millennial, relatively new dad, works in a MedTech cyber startup and has a good sense of humor (and probably needs it.)

Ryan just came back from a holiday vacation in Canada and sent this picture.

snow ryan

When I asked if he skied, he replied, “Hey, I live in Florida. I don’t ski, I just stood next to the mountain, but never went up. lol”

So enough of me, here’s Ryan.

When I was asked to write the first thing that came to mind was why?

By that I mean I wanted to understand the why behind both this blog and Miki’s request for me to participate. I will keep that question in mind throughout my writings and look forward to this as an opportunity to learn.

I am approaching this as a platform for me to learn and hopefully convey some of my findings to you. My posts will focus on culture and values both from a personal perspective but more broadly from an organizational perspective. Now this is a topic that is covered far and wide so why bother? Because at the bedrock of it all, culture will make or break an organization.

Have you ever seen a group of people who one day have a different outcome from previous ones? Maybe they have a different leader, new goals or something else. I can guarantee that culture is somewhere to be found in there. Good or bad culture will have an impact in the long term.

I did not always believe this, but went through personal experiences that taught me otherwise. I hope to share some of those experiences along our journey together, as well as learn from others who have built successful organizations.

What is my background? I have had a varied life up till now and hope to continue upon that trajectory moving forward. I served several years as a United States Marine, I have worked in sales management in a fortune 50 company, tried my hand at a startup in college and currently work for a successful SaaS startup in Florida. I have used all of these experiences and more to forge a foundation for what makes success and will continue upon that path moving forward.

I look forward to your joining me on that path and sharing your experiences when moved to do so.

3 Steps To Being A Great Boss

January 4th, 2017 by Miki Saxon

http://www.flickr.com/photos/samchurchill/4182826573/

I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t want to be considered a great boss by their people from the time they receive that first promotion to the time they finally retire.

It doesn’t matter if they work for a giant corporation, start a company or run a small biz, they want to perceived as a great boss.

The problem is that there is so much advice as to what a great boss is to how to become one that accomplishing it can get lost in the effort.

That’s especially true since much of the advice out there is conflicting — whether with other advice or your own MAP.

Happily, there’s a simple answer to the what part of the question: a great boss is one for whom people want to work.

Period.

The how is accomplished in 3 simple steps.

  1. List the five most important things that you always wanted your manager to do for you.
  2. List the five most important ways in which you always wanted to be treated. (If you no longer have a manager think back to when you did.
  3. Do them for your own team.

Most people who do this learn two surprising facts.

  1. Most of the 10 require no additional budget and can be implemented by bosses at any level.
  2. You will attract and retain people looking for the same things that you wanted from your boss.

They also learn 3 surprising truths.

  1. They don’t like the people who like working for them.
  2. MAP is impossible to sustainably fake.
  3. People are smart. It won’t take long for new hires to recognize that one or more of the 10 are faked and they will leave.

Image credit: Sam Churchill

Role Models: Yuchun Lee

January 3rd, 2017 by Miki Saxon

Two old adages, “don’t waste time reinventing the wheel” and “profit from the mistakes of others, you don’t have time to make them all yourself” gave rise to a new series for 2017. Role Models is my effort to help you adhere to both, always remembering to tweak their ideas to fit your MAP.  

Yuchun LeeYuchun Lee was a member of the famous MIT blackjack team (the basis for the movie 21) and a serial entrepreneur since childhood. Unica, his first “real” startup, which went public in 2005 and sold for around $500 million to IBM in 2010 . He is currently co-founder/CEO of sales training startup Allego.

Lee learned early on that telling, let alone ordering, people to do whatever didn’t work and radically changed his approach.

But then you very soon realize that human beings have free will and you’ve got to persuade them.

He runs his company based on three core philosophies.

The first is the ability of the company to know what is true, what is not true, and what’s real and what’s not real. (…) The foundation is all about truth.

The second is how you behave as a team to solve problems. (…) Everybody’s trying to figure out how to look smart in front of the C.E.O. (…)  it’s actually O.K. if you sit there. If you’ve got nothing to say, don’t say it.

The third is about mistakes. We tell people you’ve got to love your mistake. If you go through a whole day without making a mistake, you just wasted a whole day because you probably haven’t pushed yourself. (…) You need to see mistakes as opportunities to improve.

Image credit: Allego

Golden Oldies: Paying For Hires Upfront

January 2nd, 2017 by Miki Saxon

It’s amazing to me, but looking back over more than a decade of writing I find posts that still impress, with information that is as useful now as when it was written.

Golden Oldies is a collection of what I consider some of the best posts during that time.

Greetings and welcome to 2017. I thought we’d start the year out with a bit of critical hiring wisdom, especially since hiring so-called stars is still high on most founders’ agendas.

The problem is that hiring often reverses the old adage, ‘one man’s junk is another man’s treasure’ and the promised star is, in the new environment, a dud. (Note: the compensation described is from 2007.)

Read other Golden Oldies here.

My entire career, even when I was a headhunter, I’ve condemned guaranteed pay packages and sign on bonuses, whether stock or cash, because of a passionate belief that people who join just for money/stock have no loyalty and will leave for more money/stock and that what a person did for their previous employer is not a guarantee of what they will do for their next one.

Obviously, my efforts have had no impact whatsoever, outside of my own clients, especially in the executive suite.

The practice is now so common that it’s been named the “golden hello,” a sure sign of broad acceptance.

Such packages are based totally on candidates’ historical actions for another company, frequently in a different business, their interviewing/negotiating skill, charm, and the threat that doing so is the only way to acquire their talent.

Just how much is all this worth? Penny gave its new COO “…a base salary of $750,000, to be reviewed annually starting in 2007, with a cash bonus that could be as much as 150 percent of her salary…stock option awards and restricted stock awards valued at more than $20 million in recognition of forfeited benefits at her former employer, Capital One, as well as a minimum cash bonus for 2006 of $1 million.”

She was fired six months later, because “…Ms. West not being a good fit for the company,” according to Deborah Weinswig, a Citigroup analyst.

Further, “…Ms. West had a severance agreement and that the retailer intended to honor its terms.” and you can bet that her golden goodby will contain a goodly portion of her golden hello.

I understand executive paranoia and the desire not to lose what they already have, but change always involves risk.

Penny isn’t talking, but if the analyst is correct about the fit, why was Ms. West hired in the first place?

Who wrote the job description? Who interviewed her? Who checked her references? Who thought she was such a good fit that it was worth doing anything necessary to land her?

“Who,” of course, is plural, nobody, especially at senior levels, is interviewed by just one person any more.

That’s why I keep telling my clients that, as their companies grow, they must make hiring, including skilled interviewing, a core competency at all levels.

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