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Extraordinary Leadership Starts with Feedback
General Mills CEO Steve Sanger once told 90 of his colleagues: 'Last year my team told me that I needed to do a better job of coaching my direct reports. I just reviewed my 360-degree feedback. I have been working on becoming a better coach for the past year or so. I'm still not doing quite as well as I want, but I'm getting a lot better. My coworkers have been helping me improve. Also, I feel good about the fact that my scores on 'effectively responds to feedback' are so high this year.'
While listening to Steve speak openly to coworkers about his efforts to develop himself, I realized how much the world has changed. Twenty years ago, few CEOs received feedback from their colleagues--or candidly discussed that feedback and their personal developmental plans. Today, many respected leaders are setting a positive example by striving to develop themselves.
Organizations that crank out great leaders tend to have CEOs like Steve Sanger who are actively involved in leadership development. These organizations tend to actively manage their talent. They identify high-potential people, differentiate compensation, serve up the right development opportunities, closely watch turnover, and offer CEO support and involvement.
One of the best ways top executives can get their leaders to improve is to work on improving themselves. Leading by example can mean a lot more than leading by public-relations hype.
- Michael Dell is a perfect example. As a successful leader, he could easily have an attitude that says, 'I am Michael Dell and you aren't! I don't need to work on developing myself.' Michael, however, has the opposite approach. He sincerely discusses his personal challenges with leaders across the company. He is a living case study from whom everyone at Dell is learning. His leadership example makes it hard for any leader to act arrogant or to communicate that he or she has nothing to improve upon.
- Johnson & Johnson has successfully involved its executives in leadership development. Its top executive team regularly participate in a variety of leadership-building activities. Having a dialogue with the CEO about his business challenges and developmental needs makes it a lot easier for employees to discuss their own business challenges and developmental needs.
- At Northrop Grumman, CEO Kent Kresa and his leadership team reversed the company's poor image and engineered an amazing turnaround. From the beginning, Kent led by example. He communicated clear expectations for ethics, values, and behavior. He made sure that he was evaluated by the same standards that he set for everyone else.
As you work hard to improve yourself, you encourage the people around you to do the same thing.
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Marshall Goldsmith Effective Leadership Video Training
My newest book, MOJO, is a New York Times (advice), Wall Street Journal (business), USAToday (money) and Publisher's Weekly (non-fiction) best seller. It is now available online and at major bookstores.