You Want Change, Sit in the Same Office

On Monday, Lands’ End announced that its CEO had “stepped down” effective immediately, after only 19 months on the job.

There will be plenty of time for all the post-mortems to be written and dissected. However, I will chime in right now about a glaring aspect of Federica Marchionni’s abrupt departure.

It seems there was a serious disconnect between what she wanted to accomplish and where she was physically located. And that provides an important lesson reminder.

Credit: Lands End

Credit: Lands End

As background, Ms. Marchionni was tasked with evolving the company and the brand. Note this statement from the Chairman of the Board when she was hired:

“We are confident she will build upon the Company’s legacy as a classic American brand with a keen eye toward its future as a global lifestyle brand.”

That implies change. According to The Wall Street Journal, “she tried to fashion broad changes at the catalog retailer.” But: Continue reading

With Rolling Stone a Memory, General McChrystal Now Inspires Business Leaders

There’s much more to know about General Stanley McChrystal than what happened with Rolling Stone magazine.

Granting inside access to a journalist turned out to be a disaster, and the magazine essay led to the end of his military career. But don’t let what happened in 2010 diminish the superb business advice General Stanley McChrystal offers in his book.

Credit: McChrystal Group

In “Team of Teams – New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World,” the retired 4-star general and his colleague writers share ready-to-implement ideas on  leadership, teamwork and organizational effectiveness.

The book’s origins come from McChrystal’s leadership of the Joint Special Operations Task Force and the efforts to defeat Al Qaeda in Iraq. It’s an easy read, and one I recommend.

To get you started, I’ve organized five salient points that I particularly like and believe to be effective. 
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Movie “Burnt” Depicts Both Ugly & Good Teamwork Lessons

If you want a vivid training primer on how teamwork and collaboration make a winning recipe for business success, cut-up a few scenes from the movie “Burnt.”

Credit: Burnt Facebook movie page.

Credit: Burnt Facebook movie page.

Starring Bradley Cooper and Sienna Miller, the culinary-themed drama features a two-star Michelin chef (Cooper) trying to rebuild his life and career. He receives unexpected wisdom and inspiration from his sous chef (Miller) in his quest for a third star.

Three scenes stood out from a business perspective. Each one depicts a critical behavior and corresponding performance lesson for leaders and teams.

Plus, keep reading for my Ten Leadership, Collaboration & Teamwork Lessons.

Scene 1.  The kitchen is notified that Michelin reviewers are in the restaurant. Chef Cooper (not yet recovered from a beating inflicted for unpaid drug debts) takes charge in a crazed, dictatorial manner that completely unsettles the cooking team.  Not the way to instill camaraderie in pursuit of a shared objective! That Cooper is undone by the sabotage of a team member seeking revenge, and the diners are just plain businessmen, is not the point. We’ve all seen some version of this team leader dysfunction play-out in the workplace. It’s never positive. Continue reading

Duke’s President Offers Actionable Philosophy for Life and Work

Credit: Duke University.

Credit: Duke University.

It was a really pragmatic gift, but maybe tough to appreciate at age 18.

In his welcoming comments to the Class of 2019, Duke University President Richard Brodhead dispensed some wise philosophy.  He encouraged the new students to adopt a set of profound and powerful life and work ideas that are applicable to all of us.

Brodhead’s address, titled Building a Life at Duke, was themed off the massive construction and renovation underway on campus.  It provided an apt metaphor for his message.

I’ve culled and organized Four Key Takeaways.

1.  Expect Change & Embrace Where It Can Take You

If you want to make room for a new, improved version of yourself, you will have to tolerate some disruption— of your personal habits, of your preexisting networks, even of assumptions that once seemed certain. Disruption is not fun, but it is the opener of possibilities.

> I agree about the importance of disruption as a positive change enabler.  Focus on where it will take you.  It may be more fun than you think. Continue reading

How To Take a Fresh Look, Get New Ideas & Tackle A Challenging New Job

Let’s say you’re a new business unit leader or CMO.

You want to get an unvarnished, 360-degree view of the situation and challenge at-hand.  You have to get prepared to give your boss an action plan.

What do you do and how do you do it?

To demonstrate, let’s use a high-profile, global example that just happened.  I’ll tell you who it is at the end of the post.

Blackboard with words Look Listen Learn

Image: iStock

Here are some of the steps taken by the new leader:

* Invited a range of outside industry experts to a private dinner.  They represented views both consistent with, and alternate to, the company’s strategic direction.

* The guests had to earn their meal by commenting on the most pressing problems facing the company.  Specifically, they were asked:  “Tell me something I don’t know;” and “Give me a new way of thinking about things.”

Continue reading