Today’s entry focuses on the 57 minutes I spent watching Carly Fiorina’s talk about her book, Tough Choices. I am keen to read the book now based on the content of this talk. She had already been ousted from HP at the time of this talk so it was nice to see her reflect on her career and life experience. She said some interesting things on leadership, change and organisational culture which are worthy of meditation and implementation in your organization.
It is a leader’s job to identify what is wrong, understand all the issues and articulate this with clarity to the people. It is the job of the leader to see things that other people don’t see in an organization and ask the right questions to force people to think and encourage dialogue. A leader’s responsibility is to sense dangers and opportunities before most people and act upon them. Leadership is about change while management is about preserving the gains of change. It is the leader’s responsibility to see possibilities in both people and circumstances. Leaders do not fixate on things they can’t do but focus on the things they can do.
Effective leadership is speaking to people in the language which they understand so they can buy into the vision. Values are what guide our behaviour when no one is looking and you don’t think anyone will find out. You can’t have an effective strategy without effective execution otherwise it is just a mental exercise. A leader has to be connected enough to the people they lead to empathise and communicate, but also detached enough to see with clarity and make tough decisions. This is a tough balance to achieve. All of us make tough choices in life and business and the toughest choices you make, you make alone. Be willing to ask yourself the fundamental questions in order not to stray from the right path.“Leadership is about empowering others to reach their full potential. Leaders can no longer view strategy and execution as abstract concepts, but must realize that both elements are ultimately about people.” (Excerpt from her 2000 commencement speech to MIT students)