six themes from the world business forum

What a day!  The World Business Forum featured phenomenal speakers and drew over 4,000 attendees from 60+ countries.  I’m so honored to have been invited to attend as a guest blogger.

I tweeted the best bits from today as they rolled off the speakers’ tongues and will be doing the same tomorrow morning (follow me: deniseleeyohn) but here are six of my main takeaways so far:

1.  Leadership is an art

Jim Collins, author of Built to Last, Good to Great, How the Mighty Fall:  Level 5 leaders share a special brand of humility – they have absolute burning ambition for the cause and company (not themselves) combined with the will to do whatever it takes (as long as it doesn’t breach the core values)

Bill McDermott, Co-CEO of SAP:  Leaders have followers – they set high expectations and are resolute in face of adversity — when others day it can’t be done, they say it can and they make it happen

Jack Welch, former CEO of GE, current founder of the Jack Welch Management Institute:  lead change before you have to – complacency is the biggest danger we have – change is happening all around us – be on the offense

Carlos Brito, CEO of InBev:  Dreaming big and dreaming small take same amount of energy, so dream big!

Charlene Li, author of Open Leadership:  You do have to be centralizing and controlling in terms of how open you’re going to be

Li:  Create a culture of sharing

Joseph Grenny, author of Influence:  The Power to Change Anything:    2 problems of leadership:

  • 1. what should we do (strategy)
  • 2. how do I get everyone to do it (influence)

Grenny:  Greeny’s law of leadership – there’s no strategy so brilliant that people can’t render it worthless

Grenny:  Influencers succeed where the rest of us fail because they over-determine success –  instead of focusing on one thing they need to do to get person to change; they marshall a critical mass of 6 sources of influences

2.  Success is not what we think it is

Les Hinton, Dow Jones & Company:  success requires seeing past your own operations and beyond the competition – leaders shouldn’t be bound by their own assumptions of their products or even peers or competitors

Collins:  Greatness is not a function of circumstance (not entirely) – if’s first and foremost a conscious choice and discipline

Collins:  It’s not about profit for X — being useful in a way that society values

Collins:  Don’t worry about whether going to be successful; ask how you can be useful

3.  Be wary of common pitfalls

Collins:  definition of hubris — outrageous arrogance that inflicts suffering on innocent

Collins:  It’s hubris to come in with less passion on day 1000 than on day 1

Collins:  Never confuse power with leadership – I can get you to do anything if I put a gun to your head but it doesn’t mean I have led

Welch:  Don’t celebrate successes; celebrate who’s doing their job

4.  Having the right team is critical

Collins:  If you allow growth in complexity to exceed your ability to have all key seats filled with the right people to execute brilliantly in that growth, you will fall

McDermott:  You can tell the best CEOs from their executive secretaries – if you can’t manage your own house, how can you expect to run a company

McDermott:  the best leaders hire over their heads every time

Welch:  The main job of a CEO is developing talent – the team that fields the best players wins

Brito:  Great people:

  • make great companies
  • attract more of the same
  • will push you to be better
  • like meritocracy (and they see through it if you’re not fair)

Brito:  You have to be the coach – people are not the responsibility of the HR dept

Brito:  We want owners vs. professionals or executives – owners make better decisions

David Gergen, former Presidential advisor:  Human resources are most valuable thing you have in company

5.  Leadership requires honesty and perseverance

Collins:  Just because our intentions are noble and good doesn’t mean our decisions are good and wise

Collins:  the Stockdale principle (named after Admiral Stockdale top ranking officer at Hanoi Hilton):  never confuse the need for unwavering faith that you will prevail in the end on one hand with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts

Collins:  Building greatest never happens in a single moment; it happens only by turning the flywheel in consistent intelligent direction and keeping pushing

Collins:  Don’t focus on career, focus on building pockets of greatness at every step

Welch:  Face reality as it is not as you want it to be

Welch:  Searching for a better way every day is a game-changing way to do business

6.  Why we do is more important than what we do

Collins:  if your enterprise went away, who would care? – what un-fillable hole would it leave? You have to have an answer to that question otherwise someday you WILL go away

McDermott:  you need a compelling vision for your business – why do you exist and why should people care?  SAP’s purpose is to make the world run better

Brtio:  We don’t have vision or mission, just a dream:  Be the best beer company in the world

notes and quotes from other conferences I’ve recently attended:

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