Saturday, October 3, 2015

Notations For the weekend: A "View of the Week" On Leadership

One of the key driving force that ultimately insures that a "Vision of the Possible" can be made possible is through a simple concept that has been debated ever since the beginning of time:  Leadership.  It is a sense of leadership that shows the path ahead and provides the motivation for all to truly be transformational in their own right.    

Our team wanted to feature this very interesting primer on leadership that the Fortune's Geoff Colvin put together on a number of incoming CEO's.    It provides an analysis of the good, the bad and the ugly.    As we settled on this to share this as a "View of the Week", we were especially congiznant of the transition at Twitter and could not help but wonder whether Jack Dorsey would actually pull off the miracle all are hoping--Our founder noted that he sent off a congratulatory note to Jack Dorsey via Twitter earlier this week as we saw reports of him being touted as the permanent CEO For Twitter:

Fortune Power Sheet By Geoff Colvin.
Daily insights on leaders and leadership
By Geoff Colvin

October 2, 2015
It’s been a newsy few weeks for CEO turnover. Let’s assess the prospects of three newly minted chiefs and one who’s maybe-minted:
Jack Dorsey is the maybe CEO of Twitter, which he cofounded. He returned as interim CEO a few months ago when Dick Costolo stepped down, and news reportsWednesday said he was getting the job permanently. The company has still made no announcement, but investors have spoken: They hate the idea. The stock dropped yesterday on the news. The Dorsey idea faces at least two big problems. One, he’s already CEO of Square, the payments company that he founded and that he says he won’t be leaving, especially now that it’s preparing for an IPO. Could he really run two companies? Two, investors for now have no reason to believe Dorsey can solve Twitter’s big strategic problems, like where it will find more users and revenue. If he gets the job, his odds of succeeding look no better than even.
Stefan Larsson was named CEO of Ralph Lauren Corp. on Wednesday, and initially it looked like a home-run transition. Larsson, 41, came in from Old Navy and looked like just the kind of outsider who could restore Lauren’s growth. The stock jumped, after falling some 40% this year. But then Ralph himself sent a note to employees making clear that this wasn’t a transition at all. “I am not stepping down, nor am I stepping back. I am stepping up,” he said, and he noted pointedly that “As the largest shareholder, I will continue to nurture and grow this company.” Founders who can’t let go are an old story in business, and the story doesn’t usually end well. Larsson’s prospects look markedly worse today than they did two days ago.
Matthias Mueller became Volkswagen’s CEO one week ago, and so far it’s hard to tell if he might be the revolutionary that the company needs. In the best case, he could be like General Motors’ Mary Barra, an insider who understands the culture deeply and knows why and how to blow it up, and who uses the company’s current crisis to make it happen. That’s the best case. But he could also be a highly competent insider who’s hands are clean and who could be installed as CEO on short notice, but who has no intention of leading a revolution. And even if he wants to be a revolutionary, VW’s powerful supervisory board may not let him. For now his prospects are shrouded in fog, which is not an encouraging sign.
Carlos Munoz has been CEO of United Continental Holdings – United Airlines – for just over three weeks, and he’s starting off well. A headline at http://www.time.comthis morning sums up his stance: “United Airlines CEO Pledges to Stop Being Awful to Customers and Employees.” He is saying what needs to be said out loud, that the company has a problem, that it isn’t treating customers well, and that “this merger hasn’t gone as well as it could have.” That’s step one. Now he has to fix the culture and operations, and the hopeful news is that it can be done, as Gordon Bethunedemonstrated when he rescued Continental from far worse problems in the 1990s. Munoz faces a huge challenge, yet among all of September’s new CEOs, I like his prospects the best.

Fortune Power Sheet By Geoff Colvin.
Daily insights on leaders and leadership
By Geoff Colvin

September 30, 2015

Two of my favorite CEOs are in the news this morning, and while they could scarcely be more different, they share a leadership trait that’s worth a closer look: vision.
I know, not every company needs a vision. Lou Gerstner famously said it was the last thing IBM needed when he came in as CEO 20-plus years ago; the company was in desperate trouble and needed an operational rescue above all. But sometimes, especially when a company is new, an insanely audacious, exhilarating vision – and a founder who can see it so clearly that it’s real – can make all the difference.
Last night at an elaborate party in California, Elon Musk delivered the first Tesla Model X SUV, a vehicle that was clearly impossible to conventional thinkers. The auto industry is so crushingly capital intensive that obviously no new entrant other than a government could afford to get in. Musk disproved that view when he founded Tesla and produced the Model S, which then, in its latest version, again achieved the impossible by winning the first perfect score that the Consumer Reports auto rating system had ever delivered. And he says “the Model X is a better SUV than the Model S is a sedan.”
Another impossible Musk venture, SpaceX, delivers supplies to the International Space Station at a fraction of what government rockets incur, but that business is just R&D for Musk’s real vision, colonizing Mars. SpaceX designers are already creating the 100-passenger Mars Colonial Transport. Musk also wants to revolutionize the electric utility business and has proposed a Hyperloop transport system running through tubes between Los Angeles and San Francisco – but enough. He’s obviously nuts, except that he obviously isn’t. He’s visionary. And if he weren’t, he’d never attract the workers, customers, and investors who make his visions real.
Today’s other visionary leader in the news is Ralph Lauren, who announced yesterday that he’s stepping down as CEO of his company. You may say that his vision wasn’t remotely as grand and breathtaking as Musk’s, and in some ways that’s clearly right. But in some ways his vision was also unimaginable until he saw it. A multi-billion-dollar global fashion empire built on one person’s unique conception of style – a few of them exist today, but in the 1960s there were none.
Not that Lauren saw his future fully at first. He started by designing some wide ties when skinny ties were the norm and persuading Bloomingdale’s to carry them. In time he came to realize he was selling not clothing but a vision of a world that existed nowhere except in his mind, and it was a world that millions of consumers would want to inhabit. It took its design cues from old-money America and then went far beyond, to clothing, accessories, and furniture that no Rockefeller or DuPont ever possessed. Eventually his vision even took the form of a private club in Milan and a restaurant in Manhattan in the quarters of the old La Côte Basque, one-time haunt of the rich and elegant.
Gerstner was right, of course. Sometimes a vision is a distraction from what needs doing. And it will fail miserably if it isn’t genuine; people can tell instantly when there’s no true gleam in the visionary’s eye. But Musk and Lauren remind us how sometimes, when a leader’s vision is real, it’s power is beyond imagining.

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