WHAT IS ONE CHARACTERISTIC THAT YOU BELIEVE EVERY LEADER SHOULD POSSESS?
To me, every leader should be able to mobilize a team. By that, there must first be a shared vision of where the team is headed, and then each member should know his or her specific contribution to get there. The leader should ensure the vision is understood and that there is full buy-in, and then he or she should empower the team to execute the work.
I also think great leaders have the right players on the team and create an environment of trust and open communication. I often refer to the book, Good to Great. “Who’s on the bus” as far as who is on the team, can make all the difference.
WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST JOB AND IS THERE SOMETHING YOU LEARNED THERE THAT YOU STILL USE IN YOUR WORK TODAY?
I worked for my dad in his clothing store called Lazarus and Sons. He had an old fashioned cash register so I had to count change back manually. That’s probably why I’m good at math. I worked there my whole childhood — summers and holidays, and learned my work ethic from my dad.
WHAT NEW WORDS OR BUSINESS CONCEPTS HAVE YOU LEARNED ABOUT RECENTLY?
I just completed a three-day certification course using the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument® (HBDI®). The tool shows a person’s thinking preference, whether it be strategic, analytical, organizational or perceptive. Through the years, I’ve seen similar tools, but this assessment is unique in how it displays the output graphed in one of four quadrants.
I recently lead a team-building exercise for a client where we used the HBDI® assessment. We first made sure everyone understood their individual profiles, their dominant thinking preferences and how they changed under stress. Then, we overlaid the entire team’s profile to show their collective strengths and where they may have blind spots. I think they found the exercise enlightening, and I heard from the group’s manager that they have been referring to their profiles ever since.
WHAT WERE SOME OF THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES YOU’VE FACED IN THIS ECONOMIC DOWNTURN AND HOW HAVE YOU ADDRESSED THEM?
I left GE right in the middle of it. I asked myself, “Who in their right mind leaves their job in this economy?” But, the lesson I learned is not to let fear paralyze you.
If you know what you want to do and it’s been on your mind for a while, do it. Now I wouldn’t recommend jumping recklessly, without a backup plan, but it’s okay to take a leap. In fact, the book, The Leap, by Rick Smith, was a big help in my making that decision.
WHAT IS A PIECE OF ADVICE THAT YOU WERE GIVEN THAT HAS IMPACTED YOUR CAREER/LIFE?
One of my former bosses told me a nugget of information that has stayed with me over the years. He said, “People are often good at playing up to their boss and taking care of their direct reports, but they often forget to play well with their peers. The people who make it to the executive band are the ones who get along with their peers.”
WITH ALL THE COMMUNICATION AIDS AVAILABLE TODAY THROUGH TECHNOLOGY, WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE BIGGEST COMMUNICATION CHALLENGE?
Today’s world brings e-mail overload. To help handle that, I used a technique with my team so that everything that was sent to me had a header label in one of three categories:
- FYI (for your information, not urgent)
- Help (need your help)
- Fire (emergency)
I found that whatever we were communicating fell into one of those three categories, which helped me immensely. I even challenged the team to come up with a fourth category, but there didn’t seem to be anything that fell outside these categories.