Tag-Archive for ◊ leadership ◊

• Sunday, December 15th, 2013

Close Encounters with Nelson Mandela

South African President Nelson Mandela at Howard University in 1994. Photo credit: Howard University

As I sit watching Nelson Mandela’s funeral this morning on television, I thought about how this titan who championed for equality, humanity, and harmony influenced so many people across the globe. Drawing world leaders who said goodbye to South Africa’s father during the week-long celebration of Mr. Mandela’s life, they laid aside differences to salute a courageous man who endured more than most of us would willingly suffer.

But, as I watch his funeral, I think back to when I was a child and hearing about Nelson Mandela for the first time. He was still imprisoned then, and apartheid and its effects on South Africa’s people and economy seemed like a mystical concept to my naïve self. I could not imagine experiencing such oppression and the dismal outlook that many residents must have felt at the time.

The increasing spotlight on apartheid, and its wide-reaching effects in South Africa, influenced music celebrating Mr. Mandela’s courageous stand and denouncement of the separatist institution, including the song Free Nelson Mandela, released in 1984, by Jerry Dammers and The Special A.K.A. I remember hearing the song and seeing the video, wondering how one man could spark such an outpour of support and love from his country and people from around the globe.

VIDEO: Jerry Dammers, Special A.K.A., featuring Amy Winehouse, sing to Mandela on his birthday in 2008

Years later, I experienced my own close encounter with Nelson Mandela, a Herculean symbol of leadership to me, whom I laid eyes on at my undergraduate alma mater, Howard University, in Washington, DC. I still recall the buzz that permeated the campus when Nelson Mandela received an Honorary Doctorate degree during the University’s Convocation in October 1994, the same year he became president of South Africa, and just four years after serving almost three decades in prison.

Sometimes, especially as carefree youth, we don’t know when we are facing close encounters with history; but, on that extraordinary day on campus, many of us knew we had encountered greatness – if only briefly – in a man whose legacy would live on in us all. And, it will.

Rest in peace, Madiba.

 

DISCLAIMER: ASK THE STRATEGIST is a blog that highlights information on business, entrepreneurship, careers and the workplace, health, community, and women’s issues. Any content or advice dispensed through Ask The Strategist is solely for informational and entertainment purposes. All content is the property of Ask The Strategist and affiliated companies unless otherwise noted. We occasionally address questions from our readers and subscribers in posts. Send your question or conundrum  via video or regular email to ask@ksgsc.com. All submissions become the property of Ask The Strategist. Names and other identifying information may be changed to protect the person asking for advice.

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• Friday, December 06th, 2013
Sneak Peek: Super Soul Sunday with Oprah Winfrey and Howard Schultz

Ask The Strategist has been given an exclusive preview of Oprah  Winfrey’s interview with Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz on Super Soul Sunday, which airs this Sunday, December 8, 2013 at 11 a.m. ET on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network. Winfrey sits down with Schultz, who shares the story of his inspiring rise from the housing projects in Brooklyn, New York, to his current role as a successful entrepreneur, global thought leader, and innovator.

Schultz will share the leadership lessons he’s learned while guiding this iconic brand for more than three decades, discussing how an emphasis on ethics, authenticity and a people-before-profit philosophy helped to grow and sustain his multi-billion dollar company.

Reflecting on his #1 New York Times bestseller, “Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life Without Losing Its Soul,” Schultz recounts the story behind the global coffee company’s comeback in 2008, when he decided to return as the CEO to help restore Starbucks’ core values and mission to inspire and nurture the human spirit – “one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time.”

 

Oprah Winfrey with Howard Schultz. Photo Credit © Harpo Studios, Inc./George Burns

Following are three excerpts and video clips of Oprah Winfrey’s interview with Howard Schultz on Super Soul Sunday on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network.

EXCERPT: One of Howard’s Principles: “Don’t Be Threatened By People Smarter Than You”

OPRAH: And I know that you’re guided by your own values and your own set of principles.  There are four that you talk about that I love: Don’t be threatened by people smarter than you. Can you speak to that?

HOWARD: You can’t build any kind of organization if you’re not gonna surround yourself with people who have experience and skill base beyond your own.  Only as if those people have like-minded values.

OPRAH: That is the key to starting anything.

HOWARD: That’s the key.  And I think when you discover perhaps that these people do not have those values, then you have to have a very quick conversation.  And if they don’t demonstrate that kind of behavior, not everyone deserves to be on the team.

OPRAH: Compromise anything but your core values.  That’s what you say.

HOWARD: Short-term success is not going to build long-term value for anyone.  And we live in an age where everything is based on the short term.  And I think what we’re trying to do and what we’ve demonstrated is very –

OPRAH: You had to fight that in your own culture.

HOWARD: We did.

OPRAH: Yeah.

HOWARD: It’s hard to do.

View the video: “Don’t Be Threatened by People Smarter Than You”

EXCERPT: Howard on the Importance of a Leader to be Vulnerable

OPRAH: You say it’s important as a leader –

HOWARD: To be vulnerable.

OPRAH: — to be vulnerable. Where’d you learn that?

HOWARD: Well, when I stood up in front of people and I — I apologized and started crying that first week.

OPRAH: Which is not what CEO’s do.

HOWARD: Especially men. I think we’re taught as men to — you know, but I think vulnerability is transparency.  And what I said earlier is I think the currency of leadership is transparency and you’ve got to be truthful. So I don’t think it’s — I don’t think you should be vulnerable every day.

OPRAH: Right.

HOWARD: But there are moments where you’ve got to share your soul and your conscience with people and show them who you are and not be afraid of it.

View the video: The Importance of a Leader to be Vulnerable

EXCERPT:  Howard finding Starbucks at a “Spiritual Crisis” Upon His Return to the Company in 2008

OPRAH: Would you say that Starbucks was in a spiritual crisis?

HOWARD: Yes, I would.

OPRAH: Mm-hmm.

HOWARD: And I would say that — I would also say that most of the problems we had were self-induced mistakes.  And I stood in front of the entire employee base of the company, our partners, and said — apologized for, as leaders, that we had let them and their families down.  But we were gonna return the company back to its glory days.

OPRAH: Okay.  So in those days where you knew the company — the company had lost its way –

HOWARD: Yes.

OPRAH: – was in its own spiritual crisis, did you debate whether or not you should jump back in or not?  I know — I know –

HOWARD: First of all, I never planned to come back to Starbucks.  But, again, this is about love.

OPRAH: Because you’d stepped down at CEO.

HOWARD: I did.  This is about love.  This is about passion.  This is about responsibility.  And it’s about leadership.  And there was no second thought whatsoever.  I came back to lead the company back.  But I also needed help from others. And I needed people to believe.  And we started doing things that were quite unorthodox, uncharacteristic of a company that was in trouble, especially during the financial crisis.

View the video: Starbucks Spiritual Crisis

Find OWN in your area

For more information about Super Soul Saturday, visit:

http://www.oprah.com/own-super-soul-sunday/super-soul-sunday.html

DISCLAIMER: ASK THE STRATEGIST is a blog that highlights information on business, entrepreneurship, careers and the workplace, health, community, and women’s issues. Any content or advice dispensed through Ask The Strategist is solely for informational and entertainment purposes. All content is the property of Ask The Strategist and affiliated companies unless otherwise noted. We occasionally address questions from our readers and subscribers in posts. Send your question or conundrum  via video or regular email to ask@ksgsc.com. All submissions become the property of Ask The Strategist. Names and other identifying information may be changed to protect the person asking for advice.

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• Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

Prosperity, Opportunity, and Freedom

1963 March on Washington, Wiki Media Commons

At 3:00 p.m. today, bells rang across the country to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the historic March on Washington, DC, and the stirring I Have a Dream speech delivered by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Half a century ago, marchers flocked to the Nation’s Capitol to rally for civil rights, including jobs and economic opportunity.

Many still debate if the quest for the American Dream is reasonable, or attainable. Fifty years ago, despite challenges that impeded progress at the time, hopeful marchers believed fervently that all should have access to the pursuit of the dream,  in the workplace and beyond. While many meaningful strides have been made since the historic gathering in Washington, DC, there remain hurdles to scale. Women account for only 16% of corporate board leadership positions in Fortune 500 companies (source: Catalyst). Sixteen percent of the population - almost 50,000,000 people - live in poverty (source: U.S. Census Bureau), and, while the nation’s overall unemployment rates have decreased, almost 24% of teenagers are out of jobs (source: Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Let us all continue to ring the bells of prosperity, opportunity, and freedom in our own lives by committing to:

  • Proactively seek opportunities to cultivate skills that bolster or benefit our professional expertise
  • Celebrate those who fought for progress during the Civil Rights movement and vow to make a difference for good in our individual communities
  • Enthusiastically mentor a teen or Tween and help him/her prepare for internships and career opportunities
  • Courageously confront barriers that block your progress, whether internal or external
  • Consistently and positively use skills, talents, and abilities to gain workplace promotion or establish a business

How will you pursue prosperity, opportunity, or freedom in your own life? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Related:

Declare Your Own Independence

New Year, New You

DISCLAIMER: ASK THE STRATEGIST is a blog that highlights information on business, entrepreneurship, careers and the workplace, health, community, and women’s issues. Any content or advice dispensed through Ask The Strategist is solely for informational and entertainment purposes. All content is the property of Ask The Strategist and affiliated companies unless otherwise noted, and may not be reproduced without express written permission from the author(s).

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• Thursday, August 25th, 2011

 

Apple names former COO Tim Cook as top leader (photo: official Apple portrait)

What Steve Jobs’ resignation letter reminds company leaders to do

Although Steve Jobs’ seemingly sudden departure yesterday as Apple’s CEO comes as no surprise to technologists and business leaders who have been following Jobs’ health concerns, his announcement continues to leave the global technology world reeling.

Steve Jobs’ resignation letter: “I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and   expectations as Apple’s CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come. I hereby resign as CEO of Apple. I would like to serve, if the Board sees fit, as Chairman of the Board, director and Apple employee. As far as my successor goes, I strongly recommend that we execute our succession plan and name Tim Cook as CEO of Apple. I believe Apple’s brightest and most innovative days are   ahead of it. And I look forward to watching and contributing to its success in a new role. I have made some of the best friends of my life at Apple, and I thank you all for the many years of being able to work alongside you.”

The part of Steve Jobs’ resignation that is most striking to me is not the declaration of his intention to resign from his current position. I am fascinated by the immediate launch of the succession plan the company already had in place, in case of emergency, such as the departure of its Chief Executive Officer – former Chief Operating Officer at the company, Tim Cook is already listed on Apple’s website as CEO. Whether it is a health issue, corporate restructuring, or merger and acquisition, the succession plan, if constructed and implemented well, causes minimal disruption to the flow of business. A company like Apple, as the unarguable leader in global technology with the iPad, the iPhone, and iPod, cannot afford the perception of an unstable entity – there are billions of dollars in sales and stocks riding on the organization’s smooth transition.

But, how many companies or smaller nonprofit organizations have taken the proverbial bull by the horns and sketched out a workable succession plan before a major event or upheaval?

By definition, a succession plan encompasses the process for identifying current employees to fill key leadership roles in the event that there becomes a vacancy. The executed plan minimizes a lag in leadership, allays employee worries about corporate uncertainty in the midst of transition, and provides as little disruption to the production of goods and services at an organization as possible.

 Following are key issues to consider when developing a succession plan that we have used to aid clients in this daunting task:

SUCCESSION PLAN PRIMER

Elements of a succession plan

  • Identify potential scenarios that would require the execution and implementation of a succession plan, such as funding changes, death, illness, corporate reorganization, merger or acquisition, physical move
  • Start with internal areas/departments that are most immediately affected by sudden change in the organization, including the executive level of leadership, customer service, human resources, program management, and fundraising
  • Assess employee knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) required to successfully handle the position, including technical skills, fiduciary and budgeting skills, knowledge of foreign languages, exercise sound judgment, and oral and written communication skills
  • Consult with department heads and employees to develop a list of individuals with promising leadership ability, their skill sets, and performance highlights to begin developing a list of potential employees to fill key roles
  • Engage the Board of Directors or Advisory Board and allow them to participate, as appropriate, in the succession planning process
  • Review your organization’s training programs and ensure that there is a methodology to capture employees’ KSAs, document them for future reference, and use them in the succession planning process
  • Conduct scenarios that enable selected staff to demonstrate skills and make critical decisions prior to transition into a new role, including managing projects, developing complex budgets and forecasts, employee supervision, and organizing a press conference
  • Document employees, their strengths, KSAs, and feedback from staff about the prospective leaders in a company database so that it can be referred to as needed to identify internal talent
  • Include a standard operating procedure (SOP) in the succession plan, so that if the plan needs to be implemented for a division with little warning, there is a step-by-step guide for selecting the employee, transitioning that person, and acclimating him to the new role

While these elements of a succession plan are not exhaustive, they will help get your organization started on the right track when developing or tweaking the plan. The most important thing to remember is that once the succession plan is cultivated, it should be available to all leadership within a company, and updated as needed.

Does your company have an outstanding succession plan? Leave a reply below to tell us about it.

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• Friday, June 03rd, 2011

Ode to a Peacemaker

We could take a few lessons from The Peacemaker

A treasured mentor and fellow Sorority member passed away last week. She meant many things to many people in Philadelphia. To me, she was an exemplar; someone who had the uncanny ability to always know what to say and how to respond – even in the throes of conflict. For more than 50 years, this Peacemaker dedicated her life and wisdom to bettering the community in which she lived.

The reason I am writing about The Peacemaker on Ask The Strategist is that the lessons she taught me, and indeed, all she touched, are also germane to the principles of business. There are three that should become mainstays:

1. Hold your tongue: Before launching into action, and in the process saying things that may be regretted later, The Peacemaker always quietly reflected on the situation before saying anything. Most often, she did not say anything at all, wisely waiting to gauge the barometer and addressing concerns only when, and if, necessary. In business, we sometimes have a tendency to become defensive, often speaking before assessing the situation, and ultimately say things that may come back to haunt us – with coworkers and clients.

2. Hold others in high esteem: It is so easy to criticize and make suppositions when it comes to others. We may feel that the way they think is wrong, or that they are clueless in their actions. The Peacemaker always held others in high regard, even if she did not agree with them. She saw the best in others. You have undoubtedly heard about Jaheel Robinson, who was fired from his job at the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles yesterday, for complaining about customers and his employer via Twitter. He may have benefitted from The Peacemaker’s modus operandi on dealing with others before blasting them on social media sites.

RMV employee fired for Twitter rant : MyFoxBOSTON.com

3. Make Peace, Not War: I have witnessed The Peacemaker step in and create peaceful harmony in the community, when folks were at odds. Reaching out personally to everyone, whether they were involved or not, created such an air of camaraderie and widespread introspection that her actions inevitably led to a peaceable outcome. In the workplace, we can each be a peacemaker and inspire calm during intensive situations. Everyone has a part to play in creating a great environment in which we can work, play, and create.

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• Thursday, April 28th, 2011
     
 http://www.eventfarm.com/files/images/Ladies%20DC/Pat-Mitchell1.jpg
Pat Mitchell President & CEO
Paley Center for Media
 http://www.eventfarm.com/files/images/Ladies%20DC/Margie-Warrell1.jpg
Margie Warrell Author/Executive Life Coach
“Find Your Courage”
 http://www.eventfarm.com/files/images/Ladies%20DC/Joan-Amble1.jpg
Joan Amble Executive Vice President & Corporate Comptroller, American Express

 

Do you know these women?  You should.  They are leading ladies in America, shaping the world around us in business, politics, and media.  Come meet them personally and several more successful women from across the country THIS Saturday!  There is still time to join some of America’s most influential women at  www.WomenLeadingTheFuture.org.

Ladies DC and the UN Foundation have joined forces to host the inaugural “Women Leading the Future” day-long women’s conference, THIS Saturday, April 30, 2011, 9:00 am – 3:00 pm, bringing some of the most powerful women in America together to discuss major issues and topics important to women today.  Focusing on women making a difference in the world, some discussions will deal with where women are today and how they can become stronger, more effective leaders and why their leadership is important as we head into the future. 

www.WomenLeadingTheFuture.org

WomenLeadFutureInvite.jpg

Category: Women  | Tags: , ,  | Comments off