Tag Archives: leadership transition

March 18, 2011 | cwinters | Tagged , ,

Can Leadership be Google-ized?

Google is an organization at a crossroads. Like most tech darlings, they began with a game-changing outward focus, grew exponentially, and suddenly found the world had changed due to the rise of a new darling. No longer trendy, Google quickly found itself as the tech version of a pashmina – you still love ‘em, and use ‘em, but you sort of take them for granted.

Google’s solution? Look inward. Take Google’s famous, analytical, algorithmed expertise inward in an effort to grow better managers, and create a culture that will work for the larger, more mature organization. They’ve identified the 8 qualities they need in their leaders, ranked them and implemented quarterly reviews to see how their managers are performing.

One great take-away – we often give our employees a long list of what is important, with no prioritization….faced with too many things to think about, they become paralyzed. This is why so many culture initiatives suffer from “organ rejection” in the organization. At Google, they were placing the greatest value for leaders on the quality that employees valued the least – technical, code-writing expertise. The moral of that story – even engineers want someone who will talk to them.

But can people be algorithmed? In an engineering-centric organization full of analytical thinkers like Google, the answer may be yes. And I think all leaders appreciate clarity around how they will be judged, and a road map to success. And leadership transitions are a good time to look at culture – you are presented with an opportunity to refresh the organization’s priorities and common goals.

Will it be enough to get Google out-innovating the market again, providing growth in its mature business? If Google had the algorithm for that, we wouldn’t be reading about their leadership initiatives…we’d be reading about their new, game changing innovations.

November 6, 2009 | cwinters | Tagged ,

Constant Change. The New Status Quo?

Recently, a friend of mine experienced a leadership transition at work; CEO is leaving, and the replacement is not yet known.

Every PR person’s worst nightmare, right? Conventional wisdom says change is scary. Employees, customers, and suppliers will all be worried. That would be my reaction. I am the person who would rather add on to a house than move, reinvent my job rather than look for a new one. I take comfort in the familiar. And for a long time, I would have subscribed to the conventional wisdom that people fear change.

But the reality is that things change – often dramatically – all the time. People vote for change whenever we elect a candidate who is not the incumbent. People change jobs, and even careers, multiple times in their adulthood. Fifty percent of marriages end in divorce. And my friend told me that that CEO change barely raised an eyebrow….her colleagues felt that it either wasn’t relevant to them, or that it was time for a change at the top.

Do people really fear change? Or do they just fear the unknown? Is constant change the new familiar? And if so, how does that impact the conventional wisdom of communications?

My thoughts:

1. Trust becomes even more important in an environment where change is the new constant. You don’t have to have all the answers, but your stakeholders need to trust that you will make good decisions. The role of your leaders – and stakeholder trust and confidence in those leaders – is paramount. You can’t build, maintain or preserve reputation without considering and leveraging your leaders.

2. Speed is king. You can’t wait until you have all the answers, because answers change all the time. I’ve said before that in crisis communications 60 seconds in the new “first hour” (the traditional response time that was considered a “best practice”) – I think this holds true for all kinds of news – good, bad or indifferent. People equate speed with transparency, and trust is earned when they hear it from you first.

3. Define the “non-negotiables” – make sure people understand what the commitments and values are that won’t change….these become the “anchors” of their confidence and trust.

4. Seek input and involvement in the process. Change is a lot more fun when you feel you are a part of it, versus something that is happening to you.

I would love to hear what you think. Maybe you will change my point of view.

Carreen Winters can be reached at cwinters@mww.com

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