Tag Archives: Jim Kouzes

“Adversity Introduces You to Yourself”

Cheryl offers: Tony Hayward, the current CEO of BP, has had a lot more media coverage than he likely ever anticipated when he took over as CEO three years ago. His comments have ranged from naïve to crass, possibly plainly offensive. It’s an interesting way to have millions of people get to know you as a leader, which is certainly the role he’s been given and must fulfill for BP at this time. So what kind of leader is he? Judging by some of his off the cuff comments, he’s not one focused on others very often. His comment, “No one wants this over more than me: I want my life back” doesn’t sound like a leader who is high in compassion for others. His more measured and likely media coached comments regarding the spill come across with far more compassionate and concern for the multiple ways damage has been done. My question is, which one is the real Tony? I’d vote for his off the cuff persona myself. How leaders respond to crises is a huge indicator of who they really are at their core. They respond from habit, default, and core values developed over a life time. To me, that’s how each of us creates our true self, with practice, focus and attention to developing ourselves over time. As Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner tell us in A Leader’s Legacy, “Adversity introduces you to yourself.”   As the impact of the oil spill moves from weeks to months to years, Hayward builds his legacy each day. I wonder what Hayward is learning about himself and if he can leave a legacy worth admiration.

It’s All About Focus — A Lesson confirmed by Drucker and Collins

I had a conversation with a CEO of a company that is doing pretty well in the midst of this recession.  A lot of companies aren’t, and he is experiencing a new “challenge.”  Others — other people, other companies – are trying to get him to expand his company’s efforts into areas that really aren’t the business of his company.  He told me of his absolute intent to stay focused – to keep doing what that company is best at, and only do what that company is best at.  In other words, to say no to anything that would water down his emphatic yes that is most critical to his success.  To stay focused on the right thing – this is one of the great challenges of business (and life) success.

I thought of Jim Collins and Peter Drucker as I pondered the power of focus.  We all know Collin’s hedgehog principle:  what are you passionate about?  What can you be the best at?  And, what drives your economic engine – that is, how can you make money doing what you are passionate about and what you can be the best at?

Collins is helpful.  But Peter Drucker, forever providing great wisdom, boiled it down to three questions.  (I apologize – I know from whom I heard these, but I don’t know where Drucker first wrote/spoke them):

Question 1:  What is your business?
Question 2:  Who is your customer?
Question 3:  What does your customer consider value?

Focus.  Finding your passion and your true expertise helps you discover what your business should be.  But your customer will decide if it is valuable — and your job, from then on, is to provide such value.

I feel challenged.  What about you?


Note:  a later version of these questions, with a couple of new ones added, can be found in the book: The Five Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask About Your Organization (J-B Leader to Leader Institute/PF Drucker Foundation) by Peter Drucker.    Here is the new version (and the book offers essays on each, with co-authors):

Peter Drucker’s five questions are:

1)  What is our Mission? — with Jim Collins
2)  Who is our Customer? — with Phil Kotler
3)  What does the Customer Value? — with Jim Kouzes
4)  What are our Results? — with Judith Rodin
5)  What is our Plan? — with V. Kasturi Rangan