I mentioned here before about the regular Sunday NY Times feature called the Corner Office, which summarizes conversations with various CEO’s about leadership, lessons learned, interviewing techniques, etc. Here are 4 key lessons:
- Build your Leadership Team. Sunday’s column interviewed Lawrence Kellner, CEO of Continental Airlines, who reaffirmed several points emphasized on this blog. First, it IS critical that you have the right people on the bus and in the right seats. Leaders are dependent upon many others to fulfill their responsibilities, so if you haven’t focused on strengthening your leadership team to the maximum extent possible, you’re simply extending your INability to get things done.
- Regular, Unbiased Feedback. Kellner also emphasizes how critical it is to provide regular, unbiased feedback to your people all along the way. There’s no value, and a lot of downside, to a negative review delivered to an unsuspecting colleague.
- Getting the Right Things Done. The bane of all of us getting the right work done. Kellner reminds us how easily we fall into the trap of setting our agenda by what comes along rather than what’s important.
- Incentives. When asked what the B-schools should be teaching, Kellner emphasized the need to teach more about “structuring incentives”. We have talked frequently here about Steven Levitt’s book, Freakonomics, and his view that “incentives are the cornerstone of life”. They are valuable but underused and underperforming tools that are invaluable to getting the right results from the right people.