September 18, 2009
Simon Moutter the Auckland Airport chief executive said this afternoon that lots of little things have made a difference to the airport visitor experience. Historically, the airlines managed which baggage conveyor belt in the baggage claim area their flights used, through a schedule prepared a month out. Of course, planes don’t always arrive on time and passengers can get frustrated when bags take forever to appear, especially when there are unused baggage claim areas. So Auckland Airport gave the control of which baggage claim area is used to the folk that run the baggage system. Seems pretty simply really. Why weren’t they doing that before Simon wondered?
What baggage are you carrying around that you think someone else is going to sort out for you? Leadership starts from the inside – knowing how we’re wired, how we interact with others and empowering and mentoring others to do what needs to be done.
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September 16, 2009
The burglar operates best under cover of dark, stealing your most precious valuables. So, nothing is more likely to deflect the burglar than a well-lit shop front.
For the last year or so a friend has been attempting to have a quasi-government agency look into a matter of some significance. For reasons that remain obscure the agency did nothing for six months. When the lack of attention to her matter was brought to the agency’s attention, the initial response was to apologise and a promise to deal with my friend. These promises came to nothing and my friend wrote and questioned the agency’s conduct.
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September 14, 2009
I had the pleasure of hearing the CFO of Microsoft Chris Liddell speak today. Chris is very much one of us Kiwis and he has made it to the top levels of organisational leadership on the international business stage. Chris spoke of the 5 strategies that Microsoft is adopting to deal with the current financial position (is it still a crisis?):
- Market Share
- Cost reduction
Where did all this come from? Well it looks like pretty good common sense, but it seems that Microsoft have researched extensively the winners and losers from the 1929-37 Great Depression. Those that survived, survived with a greater market share than at the beginning of the depression. Those that invested in R&D were well placed for the 5-10 years ahead. Microsoft has cut 5% of its workforce but has maintained its R&D spend.
R&D spend for them is typically 5-10 years into the future.
What does it mean? Leadership is about looking forward isn’t it: ”There is only the future”, ” The past has gone” we hear, and maybe even say.
Certainly Microsoft is a company looking forward. But even this giant in international terms (hey they have $30b cash in the bank!) has taken time to reflect and look back for lessons from another era.
There are lessons here for organisations, battling to survive and retain focus.
And there are lessons for all of us at a personal level as we face our leadership challenges. We might ask: are we learning from the past? If so, what? Learned not do or to do something? But what of those things that underpin our behaviours?
What are our mental models that shape our view of the world? Are we prepared to look at them? Do we even know what they are?
Thanks to Ali at TransTasman Business Circle for the invitation. Please feel free to comment below. I’ll be writing more about mental models soon.
September 8, 2009
“What makes you a leader?” is the question posed on my Centre’s promotional card. I have it proudly affixed to the whiteboard in the office kitchen area so my colleagues can see that we’re making progress. It can be pretty serious stuff at times, this developing ourselves, and at times there’s nothing like a good laugh. Next to my proudly placed card now reads a series of “on the wall” comments starting with “It’s about how much time you can have off”, “It’s the pay!” and “the ability to hunt down and destroy anonymous comment writers” (not me I promise!).
Is it okay to laugh? Does a sense of humour have a role in leadership? I would say YES!, most definitely. As we navigate our way through our team’s challenges, aren’t there times when a great leader can bring the group instantly together with a short sharp dose of irony or joke?
What are your experiences of humour in leadership? What makes a sense of humour?