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Watch And Learn

Vineet Nayar (HCL Technologies), Jim Goodnight (SAS Institute), Ricardo Semler (Semco), Terri Kelly (W. L. Gore), Tony Hsieh (Zappos.com), and John Mackey (Whole Foods Market). I try to follow and listen to what these CEOs say because they’re different, refreshing, authentic, and most importantly, eminently tweetable.

I’m happy to announce that I’ve just added Red Hat’s Jim Whitehurst to my CEO “watch and learn” list:

The quotes were plucked from “Management Tips From Red Hat’s Crazy Culture Every Company Should Steal”.

Gored

In her book, “The Stone Age Company“, author Sally Bibb cites W. L. Gore (which coincidentally is on my list of faves) as one of the exemplar companies that will continue to thrive in an increasingly chaotic future that is sure to be apocalyptic for legions of old guard CLORGs. Sally states that one of the leadership mantras inside Gore is: “Look over your shoulder to make sure someone is following you“. In other words, if people don’t willingly follow you, you won’t be a leader for very long at the company.

Serendipity being what it is, I recently stumbled upon this short essay by W. L. Gore CEO Terri Kelly: No More Heroes: Distributed Leadership. Here’s what Ms. Kelly, in spite of being a real-life CEO, authentically says:

Organizations that hold onto conventional leadership models will find it increasingly difficult to attract and retain top talent.

Leaders will need to recognize that their primary role is to empower others versus build their own power. They will no longer stand behind a title with assumed authority to tell people what to do.

Those who know their leaders best are typically the individuals they lead. If you want individuals to have a voice in the organization, they must also have a voice in selecting and evaluating their leaders.

All associates (at Gore) get the opportunity to rank members of their team, including their leaders. They are asked to create a contribution list in rank order based on who they believe is making the greatest contribution to the success of the enterprise.

Note that followers have a say in who leads them and they evaluate each other and their bosses by perceived contribution – not by rank or status or academic knowledge or “number of years of service”. Now that’s empowerment, no?

So what do you think? Is your company structurally and behaviorally oriented for success in an increasingly networked, complex, and flattened world? Or is it the same old, same old, business as usual….. waiting to get gored to death by competitors who are.

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