Bob Landis has joined ArchPoint Consulting. For more than 26 years, Landis has been helping teams of senior leaders to convert strategy into effective execution.
Most recently, Landis was Vice President, People & Organization for the global chocolate portfolio at Mars Incorporated. He specializes in human resources, change management and organization development and has worked for companies including Macy’s, Campbell Soup and Avery Dennison. In addition to his U.S. experience, he has cultivated a truly global business perspective by living and working in Asia (based in Hong Kong) and Europe (based in Brussels).
Landis earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance from Pennsylvania State University.
What do you read to stay up to date on the industry in general?
I like reading output from the TED conferences for new insights and provocations. I also read Harvard Business Review and The Week, a weekly news magazine.
What has been the most important lesson you’ve learned along the way?
I’ve learned that candor and authenticity (regardless of how difficult they might be in the moment) are the only way to survive in business.
When is it okay to break the rules?
Several times in my career, I was asked to do something that was clearly wrong or unethical. The only way we can avoid Enron-type debacles is to create work environments where employees always feel empowered to do what is right, regardless of the rules. In other words, principles should trump policy any day of the week.
What do you believe are the success markers for leaders during the first 90 days on a job?
LISTEN: Meet with LOTS of people—at all levels of the organization. This is your top priority. Ask tons of questions. Find out what really works and what doesn’t. Restate what you think you’ve heard to make sure you heard it correctly and to show others you were paying attention.
DISTILL: From all of those conversations, define the two or three biggest insights on which the business strategy or execution can be fine-tuned.
INSPIRE: At the end of the first 90 days, you need to give the troops a reason to believe. Why should they be excited about where you are taking them? What’s in it for them? Why are you so sure you can be successful?
What’s your favorite business book and why?
I think the two best books for practical business insight are Built to Last (Collins and Porras) and Now Discover Your Strengths (Buckingham & Clifton). One critical thing I’ve learned over the past 26 years is that leveraging an individual’s unique strengths is much easier and more impactful than trying to improve weaknesses that an individual is not motivated or excited to change.
What’s the best business advice you were ever given and what was its effect?
Don’t ever try to be like someone else. Your success comes from proudly living and working with the gifts you already have.
How do you personally define and measure success?
Life is a series of interactions with other people. My goal is to make those interactions as energizing and impactful as possible. Success to me is using my skills and abilities to unlock in others the full potential to accomplish all that they are capable of achieving.
What tools or habits do you use to stay organized?
Thank goodness for my smart phone. Without an electronic to-do list and calendar (complete with automatic reminders), I might become lost.
What steps should leaders take to encourage creative thinking and/or change within an organization?
Be clear about the vision/destination but promote discussion and debate around how to get there.
Hire direct reports with very different skills, perspectives and backgrounds.
Celebrate and recognize individuals and teams who demonstrate “out of the box” thinking.
Use behavior-based selection tools to recruit employees with high levels of learning agility.
Publicly admit mistakes. Doing so will show employees that it’s safe to be wrong once in awhile—thereby encouraging them to take more risks and volunteer creative solutions without fear of criticism.
What is the one quality you believe every leader should possess?
Empathy. Much has been written in recent years about emotional intelligence, and for good reason. Clearly, leaders must have a compelling vision, strong business acumen and good decision making skills. However, in order to have employees follow them willingly and earnestly—as opposed to following due to fear or to meet the minimal requirements of the job—leaders must be able to create genuine emotional connections with their teams.
If you had to describe human resources best practices in three words, what would those three words be?
Build outstanding teams.