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Regardless of which side you are on, the US is clearly in one of the most fundamental debates on the role of government in a long, long time. Passions are high. Rhetoric is flying. Fears abound. Yet neither side wants to budge – ‘tough’ rules the day.

Which may be the only salvation.

There are no simple solutions left. And the realization is starting to sink in. Lou Gerstner once said, “No institution will go through fundamental change unless it believes it is in deep trouble and needs to do something different to survive.” Andy Grove said it differently: “only the paranoid survive.”

Survival ruled the day at IBM. It did in Greece. And it will in the US.

The question is, does survival rule the day at your organization?

If not, get tough.

Here’s another one: ‘work smarter, not harder!’

I hope you’ve never used this one in a misguided attempt to motivate a subordinate. If you have, you’ve just told the employee they’re dumb. Not very motivational, eh?

Personally, I don’t think employees are dumb (and if you have one, how did they get hired in the first place? And in the second place, why are they still with you?). Read the rest of this entry »

Who hasn’t heard at one time during their career, from a boss, ‘don’t bring me problems, bring me a solution?’

How silly is this? If all your boss does is ratify a solution, what good is s/he? Further, if you have a solution, why the heck aren’t you out there implementing it?

Worse, Read the rest of this entry »

Why do some companies consistently outperform their peers?

The debate on CEO pay may seem to be only simmering for the moment, while other events dominate the news cycle, but it has not gone away. Working where I do, one of the things we study is the value of, and how to recognize, effective leadership – now, the Best Companies for Leadership; later, the Most Admired Companies. Read the rest of this entry »

Lord Horatio Nelson

For several decades now, I’ve been a student, observer and participator in strategy (corporate, branding and marketing) and organization – getting these right is, of course, critical to success. But I’ve seen many cases where carefully prepared plans and their support structures have not resulted in the desired results.

Reading To Rule the Waves, a gripping history by Arthur Herman, I was struck by the role communications played in two Royal Navy engagements, 25 years apart, each of immense strategic consequences: Yorktown in 1781 and Trafalgar in 1805.

Communications dictated the outcome of each, one a failure that lost a continent and one a victory that established naval pre-eminence for more than a century. The lesson: everyone in the organization must understand what needs to be done for a plan to be successfully executed. Read the rest of this entry »

Once again, I find myself flabbergasted at service levels in the midst of the worst recession most of us have ever seen.  In my post How not to make a sale, I describe how a retailer drove us from a physical establishment after we had committed to buy. But it appears that direct retail operations are also not immune mistakes in organization, job design and incentives that result in lousy service.  Read the rest of this entry »

Hay Group‘s research on the Fortune Most Admired Companies shows that those who make the matrix work get results: better and faster decisions. The seemingly simple trick is getting managers to act in the best interests of the company as a whole, not just maximizing their own results.

But this has implications for jobs, rewards, behaviors, culture and structure. Most critical: command-and-control management styles must give way to collaboration and cooperation. To crack the matrix code, organizations must: Read the rest of this entry »

Since 2005, Hay Group has researched the Best Companies for Leadership. In previous years our research focused on understanding how organizations were planning on meeting the impending leadership shortage, driven by growth in emerging markets coinciding with the retirement of the baby boomer generation. Read the rest of this entry »

Thanks to my Hay Group colleague Scott Spreier, who has done a lot of work with CEOs, for this guest post. NOTE – since the original posting, I’ve received a number of partisan comments, which was far from our intent; we were really looking at how leaders communicate and so, to be fair, we are going to code one of Reagan’s early term speeches for comparison. Stay tuned…
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Memo to senior executives in the finance and auto industry:

Regardless of your political persuasion, before you leave the office today have your assistant print out a copy of President Obama’s Cairo speech. When you get home, pour yourself a Scotch, pull it out of your briefcase, and read it – slowly and carefully. It may be the most productive time you’ve spent all day. There’s a lot you can learn from the President on how to talk to the public and regain your credibility. Read the rest of this entry »

While CEO succession is much in the news, it is often discussed from the point of view of board members, consultants and search firms. To understand the perspectives of today’s CEOs on succession planning, we spoke with 18 sitting CEOs, one recently retired CEO and one sitting chairman…They shared practical suggestions on how to make CEO succession work more effectively for the company, the board, potential candidates and the CEO in this Chief Executive magazine article entitle Succession in practice.

The median salaries and bonuses for the chief executives of 200 big U.S. companies fell 8.5% to $2.24 million, according to an analysis for The Wall Street Journal by Hay Group, a management consulting firm. The analysis examined proxy statements for companies with more than $5 billion in annual revenue. Survey details here.

[from the Hay Group Leader:] While companies are battening down the hatches trying to weather today’s tough economic climate, the best companies for leaders also have their eyes on the long-term. Read the rest of this entry »

“By most measures, 2008 was a terrible year for home builder Hovnanian Enterprises Inc. Its stock plunged 62%, revenue fell 31% and the company posted a $1.1 billion loss in the fiscal year ended Oct. 31. Yet Hovnanian’s board awarded Chief Executive Ara Hovnanian a bonus of $1.5 million in cash and stock. The reason: Mr. Hovnanian had helped the company stockpile cash, according to Hovnanian’s Feb. 4 proxy statement…” Read more here of Phred Dvorak’s WSJ article here: Poor year doesn’t stop CEO bonuses.

The reference post was really fun to write, and it generated a HUGE response.  It was a treat to read all the comments from various forums – a very sincere thanks to everyone who contributed! Here are some extracts that I found really compelling – I want to share these verbatim while I structure my thinking on what I think they mean – apologies for the length, but this is worth reading to the end:

More than one challenged my sanity, e.g.: Read the rest of this entry »

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