Five things #6

Hello and thank you for reading, subscribing or sharing! The last week has been one of processing feedback, deep reflection and personal growth. Here is some of the talent, leadership and culture writing—and music—that resonated with me.


1) Creating the energy and belief in a strategy

In a turnaround, you have to create energy. In physics, we learn that energy is a finite quantity. In business and organizations, it’s not. It is something you can unleash. A company is a human organization made up of individuals working together in pursuit of a goal. If this is your central idea, it has significant implications for how you lead. You are not trying to be the smartest person in the room—you are trying to create an environment in which you can unleash this energy. (Hubert Joly as quoted in McKinsey & Company)

2) Purpose “turns the light on” if leaders exemplify it

Above all, leaders must continue to walk the talk. The choices made by leaders at every level send a powerful signal: leaders should not only publicly recognize and promote direct reports who consistently live the purpose, but they must also be willing to stand in the way of those who don’t, even those whose performance is otherwise strong. Leaders must also manage their time in a way that’s consistent with purpose. For example, if the company’s purpose requires a deep connection with customers, leaders should take the time to engage more frequently with them. This role-modeling behavior serves as a critical example for the rest of their team. (Cathy Carlisi, Jim Hemerling, Julie Kilmann, Dolly Meese and Doug Shipman, BCG)

3) Reimagining talent; reorienting for “spiky leaders”

Through virtually managing a team and revamping a business, leaders will find that so much of what we call “people development” is actually a set of processes that train people to manage complexity, rather than question it. Some CEOs are realizing they don’t need smooth operators—those all-rounders, devoid of obvious weakness, whose main strength is managing the complexity they often create themselves. Instead, CEOs need the messy folks who tell it like it is—those people who have “spikes,” or great strengths, in some areas and some glaring weaknesses in others. There’s magic to those diverse folks who help us find surprising ideas in surprising places. (James Allen, Bain & Company)

4) Invest in talent development irrespective of a crisis

To sideline talent development is to send a signal to people around you that your future is actually not that important now. How do you motivate people? You motivate people when they feel like they’re part of something, they’re contributing to something. So I don’t think I would do that.

That’s not just about spending money, which is sometimes what motivates that type of mindset – that we’ve got to cut back, we don’t have money. Training budgets are often the very first things that get cut when times are tough. The best way to develop talent is for an individual boss or individual leader to work directly with the people that work for her one-on-one. That’s what ‘superboss’ leaders do. (Sydney Finkelstein as quoted in Knowledge@Wharton)

5) Mark Lanegan Band — The Gravedigger’s Song (4AD Session)

[Mark Lanegan’s memoir, “Sing Backwards and Weep,” (audiobook read by the author) is a staggeringly brutal, bitingly introspective read.]

Until next time,

M.