Archive for the ‘Organizational Culture’ Category

In 100 Words: Gift of Kindness

Saturday, December 15th, 2018 by Troy Schrock

Certain seasons or events of our life heighten our awareness of both blessings we enjoy and the needs of others. Caring about someone else more than ourselves sparks kindness. Kindness can be displayed simply – smile and say hello; share encouragement and appreciation; or help someone with an obvious need.

Leaders initiate words and acts of kindness because they realize:

• Kindness is infectious – it’s easy for people to imitate.
• Kindness is relational lubrication – we more easily overlook people’s irritating behaviors.
• Kindness, regularly practiced, strengthens organizational culture.

Kindness is a gift everyone deserves to receive … and a gift everyone can give.

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” Aesop

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In 100 Words: The Change Spark

Friday, September 15th, 2017 by Troy Schrock

We are comfortable in our habits which makes behavior change hard. For example, medical studies confirm 90% of patients do not change their lifestyle following open heart surgery. Think of a lasting habit change you made in your life. What prompted the change? Likely there was an emotional spark – something moved you beyond simply understanding the rational benefits.

How does this connect to leading teams and organizations? Both groups are collections of people with habits. A “culture change” will only happen when individuals change behavior. What are you doing to help people you lead identify emotional sparks for habit change?

“People are very open-minded about new things, as long as they’re exactly like the old ones.” Charles F. Kettering

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In 100 Words: Inadvertent Bad Advice

Thursday, June 15th, 2017 by Troy Schrock

“Bring me solutions, not problems!” can be poor advice. We want people to be pro-active so the adage applies at times. Leaders, however, deal with many complex and challenging problems which either require, or benefit from, collaborative work. Collaborative work entails conversation between two or more people to surface and debate alternative solutions. One person alone will not get to the best decision.

Some people disguise complaining or laziness by merely pointing out problems. Other people, though, raise genuine issues with a desire to be actively involved in collaborative work on a solution. A wise leader discerns between the two.

“Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind than the one where they sprang up.” Oliver Wendell Holmes

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In 100 Words: Key Practice of a Level 5 Leader

Thursday, May 1st, 2014 by Troy Schrock

Alan Mulally’s upcoming retirement as CEO of Ford Motor Company is big news these days. All organizations, not just those in the automotive sector, should take note. Mulally’s leadership in turning around Ford highlights a key Level 5 Leader practice he, and the executive leaders, used to take Ford to the top of the industry.

A tight weekly executive team meeting (Mulally’s BPR – Business Process Review) was implemented to drive both business plan execution and building a strong leadership team. Candor, along with accountability around data, virtually non-existent in past Ford culture, have paved the way for consistent business performance.

“Running a business is a design job. You need a point of view about the future, a really good plan to deliver that future, and then relentless implementation.” –Alan Mulally

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Practices of a Level 5 Leader

Thursday, May 1st, 2014 by Troy Schrock

Alan Mulally’s upcoming retirement as CEO of Ford Motor Company is big news these days. All organizations, not just those in the automotive sector, should take notice. Mulally’s leadership in turning around Ford highlights a Level 5 Leader (a leader who places the success and results of the organization ahead of their own individual accomplishments and legacy). Here are some key practices he, and the executive leaders, used to take Ford to the top of the industry.

Most significantly, or simply, Mulally used a tight weekly executive team meeting (his BPR, or Business Process Review) to drive both business plan execution and building a strong leadership team. Candor, trust and accountability, virtually non-existent in past Ford culture, now form the foundation for the executive level leaders. With that foundation, a deliberate focus on data culminated in a dramatic turn-around (2007 – 2009) followed by years of consistent business performance.

Second, Mulally created a simple vision for the organization, repeated that vision all the time and didn’t change the course even when people outside were constantly looking for the next “new plan”. His view was, we have the right plan and we’re still working on implementing it.

Third, Mulally focused the organization back on the customer. Significant money was invested in new product development and quality initiatives even during significant cuts to operations. What mattered to customers was appealing designs, good fuel economy and cars that didn’t break.

Fourth, Mulally simplified the business. Ford reduced the number of brands (auto name plates) down to two. They also reduced waste and redundancy in operations by coordinating design, engineering, quality and manufacturing efforts across the entire global organization.

Mulally’s final step will be completing a deliberate and orderly succession. Here is a link to a recent article highlighting the transition.

For more in-depth understanding, see the book, American Icon: Alan Mulally and the Fight to Save Ford Motor Company by Bryce G. Hoffman.

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Sergio Marchionne, an Exemplary Leader

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012 by Ellen Bryson

In December of 2011, Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Fiat and Chrysler, was awarded the Dwight D. Eisenhower Global Leadership award from the Business Council for International Understanding (BCIU). BCIU recognized Marchionne for his unprecendented success at turning around two automotive car makers in the last decade; first Fiat, then Chrysler. No small feat.

In less than two years after taking the reins at each company, both returned to profitability. When Marchionne assumed the role of CEO at Chrysler in 2008, most in the car industry thought he was crazy. Chrysler seemed headed for bankruptcy, but Marchionne and Fiat drove a hard bargain to take control of the company. Marchionne had a compelling vision and saw how Chrysler could complete the Fiat product range to make it a more global company.

Marchionne epitomizes great leadership! Chrysler returned to profitability in the first quarter of 2011, repaid its $6 billion high interest government loan in May…six years ahead of schedule, and hit sales of over $55 billion by the end of 2011. Plants were modernized, Fiat and Chrysler operations were integrated, and the management structure was flattened somewhat. Not only did Marchionne restore Chrysler to profitability, he changed the culture. The company went from being a bureaucratic organization run from the Chairman’s office to an innovative culture focused on quality and execution where the CEO builds the cars with the guys on the floor! Now that’s transformational!

If you are like me, I’m sometimes skeptical about what I read or hear in the media, so I decided to check out the situation at Chrysler with someone on the inside to see if the culture really is different, and this is what I learned from Scott Bahr, a friend that has recently returned to Chrysler after four years away. “Yes, this is a good time to be at Chrysler. Morale is very high, and there is an earnest desire company-wide for people to “push the envelope” toward improvement. Bureaucracies and “old ways” will always be present in an organization of this size, but I am impressed by how much we are developing a culture of not being limited by those things and even openly questioning them. It’s one of the things that won me over to coming back here.” This confirms it for me. I hope it does for you. Sergio Marchionne is a great leader and a man we can all learn from.

To get inspired in your role as a leader and learn how Sergio orchestrated the Chrysler resurgence, listen to his recent interview with Sixty Minutes. It’s about 14 minutes long, but worth your time.

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