In this quote:
Mr. [X] “is disarmingly unpretentious,” he added. “…he towers over other C.E.O.’s when it comes to putting in people stronger than himself or his ability to talk about setbacks.”
Is this Toyota’s Katsuaki Watanabe? No, it’s Proctor & Gamble’s A.G. Lafley, who the NY Times (via Warren Bennis and Jeffrey Sonnenfeld) claims is the prototype for the new style CEO. If that’s really true, seems like a good trend. They say we’re moving away from the old CEO type – the empire builder with an “outsized ego” (they pointed at Jack Welch) who is too insecure to have strong people around or under them (they pointed at Stan O’Neal).
The new CEO has to be more than just smart, they also have to be leaders and to build teams. Imagine that! They also point to Boeing’s W. James McNerney Jr. as another prototype of this type of leader, along with Anne Mulcahy, chief executive of Xerox.
“They’ve got to have not just the cognitive ability to run a major firm, which Stan O’Neal definitely had, but the ability to make people feel like they’re working together,” Mr. Bennis said.
I hope Bennis meant that they wouldn’t just “feel” like they were working together, but that teamwork was actually happening.
“Both felt the need to make sure the top hundred people know that they’re in this together, that their fates are correlated,” Mr. Bennis says. “That’s what it will take to succeed in this century.”
Just the top hundred? That’s a start, I guess, although it’s a typically execu-centric view of the world. How about getting the whole company to think their fates are correlated? Now that would be amazing leadership, don’t you think?
So what do you think? Will we see the end of the top-down, command-and-control CEO who has to have all the answers? Are these researchers studying the leadership styles of Toyota, correlating that with their amazing financial performance? I’m anxious to read Jeff Liker’s new book, Toyota Culture: The Heart and Soul of the Toyota Way. Another outstanding book on the subject, maybe at more of a tactical level is Creating a Lean Culture: Tools to Sustain Lean Conversions by David Mann.
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