A Grand Strategy—Five Questions

The following information is offered as a restatement of the ground-breaking work of Patrick C. Doherty, Director, and Col. Mark “Puck” Mykleby USMC (ret), Senior Fellow, both at the New America Foundation.

1. What is the reality of our current and growing challenges, including recession, depletion, inclusion, and resilience?

  • The U.S. macro-economy is in a deleveraging, not a cyclical, downturn. The spiral has been contained, not solved, by extraordinary federal intervention. Demand has shifted away from the Cold War-era, U.S. economic engine.
  • The climate is warming. Two-thirds of ecosystem services are being depleted (e.g., soil, fish, and forests). Three of nine planetary boundaries (carbon, nitrogen, and biodiversity loss) have been crossed.
  • Three billion people will be entering the global middle class in 20 years. Commodity prices are already at or near all-time highs. Access to energy, water, food, and minerals is driving conflicts between major economies.
  • Critical systems, supply chains, and infrastructure (bridges, roads, and energy grids) lack resilience. U.S. infrastructure is $2.2T in arrears.

2. Is there a Grand Strategy that could address all of these national and global issues, built on a foundation of historical research?

Yes. During both WWII and the Cold War, Washington shaped the economy to do the heavy lifting, out-producing the Axis and outperforming and outlasting the Soviets. These earlier versions of a Grand Strategy aligned our economic engine, governing institutions, and foreign policy to meet the global challenge of the era.

3. What would a modern Grand Strategy plan look like for both the sustainable economic engine and the required foreign policy focus to meet today’s challenges? It would:

  • Create new demand by focusing on mega-trends in communities, agriculture, and productivity.
  • Utilize record corporate cash reserves and other underperforming assets.
  • Leverage stranded human capital, infrastructure, and ecological assets.
  • Develop new global partnerships that facilitate regional economic blocs.
  • Assure security with consistent U.S. strategic behavior ensuring predictable regional economic transitions.

4. What could happen if the United States stepped up again with a Grand Strategy?

  • The U.S. economic house would be in order with widespread prosperity and public revenue.
  • U.S. interests would be aligned with major economies and partners.
  • A positive narrative of America’s role would restore global credibility.
  • Greater citizen participation and trust in government would return.
  • Price signals would reshape global markets toward sustainability.
  • Agile U.S. firms would receive early-adopter trade advantage.
  • Tensions over resources would be reduced.
  • Ecological depletion would slow.
  • Vulnerability to geopolitical disruption would lower.

5. Would you be interested in learning more?

For a video of Patrick and Puck sharing the central messages of their Grand Strategy, go to bit.ly/GrandStrategy. Patrick is scheduled to present the Grand Strategy in November at the SRI (Sustainable, Responsible, Impact Investing) Conference. Or connect with either of these superstars at doherty@newamerica.net or mykleby@newamerica.net.

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The World’s Greatest Leaders

We love lists. There is something about a top 10 or a top 50 list that draws us in. On Fortune magazine’s recently released list, The World’s 50 Greatest Leaders, we find individuals with experience in business, government, religion, philanthropy, acting, education, sports, and activism. A majority are well known and all have made (according to Fortune) meaningful contributions to society.

Like many others, I enjoy reading these types of lists to learn and be inspired. At the same time, I like to use these lists as an impetus to develop my own list of great leaders, made up of individuals who I know personally. I use that list to make sure I let each and every one of them know how I admire them for what they do and who they are.

What do all truly great leaders haven common? They serve others naturally as they connect what they do to who they are. I refer to these leaders as Chiefs. With or without the title, real Chiefs take three steps:

  1. They choose what they do: Real Chiefs consistently act as servants, they act with disciple through hard work, and they act to create the future.
  2. They understand who they are: Real Chiefs demonstrate their values by building insight. They are present and focused on the moment at hand, accepting of the world as it is, grateful for all they have in their lives, generous with others, and they are able to be still long enough to hear their own voice.
  3. They connect what they do with who they are: Real Chiefs are powerful in a way that has nothing to do with their position. Real Chiefs are powerful because they connect what they do to who they are. Have you ever been so involved in a project that you lost all sense of time? Have you felt “in the zone”? Real Chiefs operate in this way on a regular basis.

Of the amazing leaders highlighted in Fortune’s top 50 list, two leaders stand out to me. They are both without fancy titles or large organizations to run, and yet they are true leaders in every sense of the word. Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani women’s rights and education activist who began standing up to the Taliban at the tender age of 11, has inspired a worldwide movement to educate children and has been twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. While less known, Tetiana Chornovol is a Ukranian journalist and civic activist who was severely beaten for her investigative reporting on Ukranian corruption. She is a true hero.

These two women connect who they are with what they do every single day. They are real Chiefs. Chiefs are all around us—in business, education, religion, and right next door. What it takes to be Chief is not who you know or even what you know. It’s who you are—and then what you do with it.

I encourage you to create your own list of Chiefs and let them know how much you appreciate what they do, how they do it, and who they are.

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The Inclusion Manifesto

Last week 50 leaders of business associations and related affiliations assembled with the expressed intent to amplify, enhance, coordinate, and accelerate world-changing initiatives already occurring throughout the business community.

Held March 17–19 in Santa Barbara, the event was sponsored by the World Business Academy and driven by the leadership team at The Praemia Group—most notably, Steering Committee leader Vince DiBianca. Together, we agreed “the future of business is making the future its business.”

The 50 members of this initial meeting of the Business Alliance for the Future (#BizAlliance4Future) share a common conviction: It is time for a defining moment in business leadership wherein the business community steps up its responsibility and actions to create what facilitator David Cooperrider calls “a full spectrum economy” where businesses can excel, people can thrive, and nature can flourish.

A significant contribution was made by Patrick Doherty, Senior Fellow at the New America Foundation, who shared his breakthrough work, “A New U.S. Grand Strategy.” Doherty’s presentation set the stage for focused and coordinated conversation, collaboration, and action as we explored ways to leverage the work each organization is already doing.

As part of our work together, we drafted what was termed The Inclusion Manifesto to clearly state our intention to ensure focus on, and participation by, all groups. The Inclusion Manifesto draft is offered below for comment followed by a list of associations involved.

Thanks to the leaders who participated. We are excited to now expand the team!

The Inclusion Manifesto

“Critical challenges collide in the 21st century that include global climate change, economic dislocation, exploding populations, increasing income disparity, and persistent poverty for billions. Unenlightened business practices are at the heart of the challenges. Only new business understanding and practice can help us confront them.

The most significant source of underutilized capital and excess liquidity in the global economy consists of human beings—women, marginalized ethnic groups, the economically disadvantaged, and the population of the developing world. The most powerful driver of balanced, sustainable economic development will be the full inclusion of the human community in all its diversity in the leadership and management of business in our deeply interconnected and integrated world.

We call upon business leaders, governments, and civil society to demand and expect the full inclusion of those who are today marginalized and excluded. We will create the healthy, successful, sustainable businesses and communities of tomorrow by beginning to model those inclusive institutions in every startup, in every global corporation, in every small business, in every country today.

We will tell a new story of the power of inclusion. We will publically recognize the powerful examples of organizations that model inclusive behavior. We will demand that those currently excluded are included in decision-making bodies at every level of corporate life and consistent with their representation in any company’s community of stakeholders. We will transform our world through inclusion.”

Represented Business Associations

American Sustainable Business Council
Aspen Institute
B Team
Business as an Agent of World Benefit/Fowler Center for Sustainable Values
Business for Social Responsibility
Charter for Compassion International
Clinton Foundation
Conscious Capitalism, Inc.
Emerging Changemakers Network
Esalen Institute
Fair Trade USA
Founding Family
Future 500
Great Work Cultures Big Tent Initiatives
Institute for Sustainable Enterprise
Move to Amend
National Association of Women Business Owners
Net Impact
New America Foundation
1% for the Planet
Opportunity Collaboration
Pachamama Alliance
Socially Responsible Investors
Social Venture Network
The Philanthropic Initiative
Transitioning to Green
World Association of Women Entrepreneurs (FCEM)
World Business Academy
Young Presidents’ Organization

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Men Need to Lean In Too

I am a fan of Sheryl Sandberg’s best seller Lean In. Specifically, the counsel she offers women to help them take charge of their lives is compelling. Sandberg speaks of the struggle for equal pay, equal treatment, and equal voice in the workplace and she provides specific advice to help women come into their rightful leadership roles with more confidence. In my view, however, the book is just as valuable to men as it is to women. I believe if more men read the book they will not only better understand the institutional challenges facing women—and to work to level the playing field because it’s the right thing to do—but they will also benefit personally from many of Sandberg’s insightful suggestions.

Among the many great ideas offered, the following stand out for me:

  • Acknowledge self-doubt and realize at times you may need to fake it to make it
  • Understand the relationship between likeability and success
  • Learn to withstand criticism
  • Build mutually supportive relationships in and outside work
  • Practice self-advocacy
  • Look for mentors by first being a great mentee, and mentor others
  • Bring your whole self to work
  • Learn to really listen
  • Be a role model of integrity in everything you are and do
  • Utilize “nudge techniques” to bring about important changes

The only area where I might differ from Ms. Sandberg’s hypothesis is in her assertion that “Having it all is a myth.” I

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prefer the view offered by Dr. Arlene Cardozo in her 1986 book Sequencing in which she asserts “you can have it all, but not all at once.” In this area, to Sandberg’s credit, she offers sage counsel in the chapter “Don’t leave before you leave.” Her message: Be all-in, and give it 100% every day you are at work. This is true for women and men.

Personally, I chose to leave the rigors of corporate life for a period when my oldest son entered high school with my daughter two years behind. I stepped off the ladder during several prime earning years knowing that my heavy workload had impacted family time during their early years. I knew that once college started I would not have the opportunity for a different level of family connection again. In this way, I was able to have it all, just not all at once.

In my view, Sandberg’s Lean In offers excellent advice to women and men. I think that if more people utilize her advice, both women and men will benefit.

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A Business Alliance for the Future

Do business leaders get it? Do they understand the critical role business must play to address today’s biggest challenges, including melting glaciers, widening income disparity, disappearing rainforests, and the global economic crisis? My answer to these questions is yes, and I’d like to share some good news.

Specifically, there are a number of business associations working for positive change in the business realm. These organizations are adding members regularly and are working to promote a future in which success is defined in terms of the triple bottom line—people, profits, and the planet.

Representing a full range of companies from startups to multinationals, these associations are supporting and sponsoring a change in how business decisions are made. They view the impact on society and the environment as equal to that of financial gains and are creating a paradigm shift for business as we know it.

Next month, on March 17–19 in Santa Barbara, 50 leaders from 26 of these organizations along with four global outreach groups are meeting together for the first time at a summit to find ways to better leverage their individual work with the understanding that business needs to be the driver of positive change in the world.

As a participant in this first-of-its-kind summit, I’d like to acknowledge the following organizations (and members) for their important work to date and their foresight to join forces to accelerate change. I urge anyone reading this blog to familiarize yourself with these powerful teams and to determine where you could add your voice to create a more positive future.

This influential group

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of business associations is taking an All-In approach, integrating discipline and support with creativity and insight, all rooted in a firm foundation of values. For true sustainability in business, I believe this is the only way forward.

More to follow…

Business Associations
American Sustainable Business Council
Aspen Institute
B Team
Business Alliance for Local Living Economies
Business as an Agent of World Benefit
Business for Social Responsibility
Charter for Compassion International
Conscious Capitalism, Inc.
Emerging Changemakers Network
Esalen Institute
Fair Trade USA
Future 500
Globally Responsible Leadership Initiative
Great Work Cultures Big Tent Initiatives
Green Biz Group, Inc.
Institute for Sustainable Enterprise
Net Impact
New America Foundation
Opportunity Collaboration
Socially Responsible Investors
Social Venture Network
Transitioning to Green
World Association of Women Entrepreneurs (FCEM)
World Business Academy
World Business Council for Stainable Development (USA)
Young Presidents’ Organization

Global Affiliations / Service Organizations / Outreach
Clinton Foundation
Democracy Unlimited
Pachamama Alliance
White House Office for Social Innovation and Civic Participation

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Veterans—Chiefs without Titles

Last month I was fortunate to spend time with an amazing group of men and women—alumni of the Entrepreneurial Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities. Over three days in Dallas, Texas these true heroes gathered to support each other and to add valuable skills necessary for them to continue to succeed in business. As one of the “instructors” at this national conference, I ran two sessions titled “Driving Next-Level Growth in Tough Times.” While I am sure I helped session participants, I am also very sure these veterans taught me as much as I taught them.

As a group, these role models for servant leadership were amazing. Despite the challenges they suffered in service to our country, they entered my class with a strength of spirit that was immediately apparent. Each veteran had a gentle smile, yet a steel resolve to fully use the opportunity given to them. In the military, they had been divided by rank. In my view, in business training they were now united under a single title—Chief. I use the term Chief to identify an individual who takes charge with full accountability for their choices.

You might imagine that the first strength of returning veterans is discipline, and you’d be right. These professionals can most certainly “plan the work and work the plan.” They are also well trained to adjust when the situation warrants change. These skills form the foundation of great business leaders, but they are just the start of what these Chiefs showed me.

I met Misty Birchall at Pub Cakes. I love Misty’s business card, which describes her as “owner, founder, and bad ass.” She is certainly all of that and more. Misty’s Pub Cakes was started as an outlet for her incredible creativity. Making great tasting cupcakes from beer, Misty’s entrepreneurial spirit and drive make her someone to bet on.

I met Lawrence Salone from the Post Trauma Institute of Louisiana. Lawrence’s business card has no title on it but that doesn’t matter. Spend a little time with him and you’ll feel the passion of someone totally committed to support the over 300,000 returning veterans in Louisiana. You would also be inspired by a true servant leader.

I met Art Salindong from Trabus Technologies. Consistent with so many other vets, Art’s business interests are a deep reflection of his values. Those values (integrity, commitment, respect for people, and partnerships) are prominently displayed on the website right next to the company overview. Trabus provides professional and technical services to federal, state, and local governments.

I also met Al Telese who founded Networking Warriors of America. Like Lawrence, Al left the service with a passion to help others who served. He describes himself as a no bull$#!% kind of guy who gets stuff done for vets when others can’t. His mission statement says it all: “Bridging the gap of the Who, What, Where, and How to get the benefits you deserve.” Al’s sense of insight is strong. He knows who he is and what he’s doing.

As we celebrate Veterans Day for the sacrifices these true heroes each made on our behalf, let’s also celebrate these true Chiefs for what they can continue to teach us: discipline, creativity, support, values, and insight. These leaders continue to inspire us all as true role models of servant leadership.

Thank you!

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Wisdom from a Great Chief—The Soul of Money

Lynne Twist will be a featured speaker at the TEDxWallStreet Conference on October 30, 2013. If you get the chance to see her live, or later on YouTube, you are in for a treat. I still remember the first time I heard Lynne speak at a conference focused on the future of business. Like the rest of the audience that day in La Jolla, I was struck by her experiences and her wisdom. Unlike those who use the term Chief to refer to people of a particular level or title, I use the term Chief to refer to anyone who is accountable for their choices and who is able to help others bring out the best in themselves. It was clear that I was listening to a great Chief that day.

As a veteran global activist and speaker, Lynne regularly shares stories from her work with leaders ranging from Mother Theresa to her mentor Buckminster Fuller. Lynne has spent decades on the front line working on world hunger, women’s rights, civil rights, and her current environmental focus working with the Panchamama Alliance. One common theme throughout her many diverse assignments has been her fundraising work. Lynne has developed an insightful view of money and of the business community that generates so much of it. She shares many of these lessons in her seminal book The Soul of Money.

Whether listening to Lynne speak or reading her book, Lynne will challenge your assumptions. Here’s an excerpt from The Soul of Money:

When we believe there is not enough, that resources are scarce, then we accept that some will have what they need and some will not. We rationalize that someone is destined to end up with the short end of the stick. When we believe that more is better, and equate having more with being more—more smart and more able—then people on the short end of that resource stick are assumed to be less smart, less able, even less valuable as human beings. We feel we have permission to discount them. When we believe that’s just the way things are, then we assume a posture of helplessness. We believe that a problem is unsolvable.

We often philosophize about the great, unanswered questions in life. It’s time we looked instead at … our relationship with money. It is there that we keep alive—at a high cost—the flame and mythology of scarcity. We each have the choice in any setting to step back and let go of the mindset of scarcity. Once we let go of scarcity, we discover the surprising truth of sufficiency. By sufficiency, I don’t mean a quantity of anything. Sufficiency isn’t two steps up from poverty or one step short of abundance. Sufficiency isn’t about amount at all. It is an experience, a context we generate, a declaration, a knowing that there is enough, and we are enough.

Over the years … I have witnessed the phenomenal success of businesses where sufficiency is embraced as the guiding principle, making creative, efficient use of resources, and combining social responsibility with a deep commitment to service and quality. They haven’t abandoned the pursuit of profit or the commitment to increase market share. They have simply pursued their goals with conscious attention to integrity.

If you believe that money is the “root of all evil,” the definition of success, or anywhere in between, I encourage you to learn more about Lynne and her insights. We can all learn something from the wisdom of a great Chief.

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A True CFO is a Chief Fundamentals Officer

In my experience, the best CFOs take responsibility for far more than just “the numbers” in an organization. They also take a hands-on approach, and work the fundamentals of the business to drive its success.

I’ve had the opportunity to support several great financial leaders as a confidant over the past five years, but my view on what it takes to be a great CFO comes from what I learned from four strong individuals I worked with during my thirty years on the inside running businesses ranging from startups to multinationals.

My first job out of college was selling for technology company Sperry Corporation, which later became Unisys. My first exposure to a true business CFO came when I met Joe LaPilusa, who partnered with then Regional VP (and current EMC CEO) Joe Tucci, to lead the Eastern Region. In addition to traditional roles, Joe LaPilusa chose to involve himself in all aspects of operations, including sales strategies and customer relationships. Nobody was surprised when he was later promoted to lead the region as VP.

My next corporate assignment brought me to AT&T where CFO Rick Miller (not a typo—no relation) partnered with CEO Bob Allen to drive growth at Ma Bell. Rick came to AT&T from Wang Laboratories where he served as President, CEO, and Chairman. Rick began his career at General Electric where he earned a reputation as an aggressive business leader focused on details and execution. At AT&T, Rick’s deep and broad operational strength was invaluable running the $75B juggernaut.

In 2000, I left the world of (really) big business to serve as President and COO at the other end of the spectrum—at an internet startup. When I arrived, Opus360 was typical at that time—long on big dreams and short on operational excellence. One of our first moves was to strengthen the senior management team. We were fortunate to hire Pete Schwartz from Computer Associates. A former Marine Corp jet pilot, Pete brought deep operational expertise and experience that helped us grow our business when competitors were going out of business.

Later when I joined Lucent Technologies, I met then CFO (and current Pfizer CFO) Frank D’Amelio at a time when many were predicting bankruptcy for a company that had generated over $30B in revenue just two years earlier. Inheriting a disaster, CEO Pat Russo relied heavily on Frank to lead the charge. Frank ran the business like a cash business. He met with customers, supported people, and set the standard for transparency that became the bar for other companies to reach. In my mind at the time—Lucent wouldn’t have made it if it wasn’t for Frank.

Joe, Rick, Pete, and Frank are role models of great Chief Fundamentals Officers. If you work with similar professionals, you know how fortunate you are. Thanks guys.

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A View on Two Great CEO’s: Steve and Sam

Recently I had discussions with several C-suite clients about a comparison between the legacies of two great CEO’s: Steve and Sam.

Steve became CEO in 1996 of a company he and a friend founded 20 years earlier and created the most visible company in the world. Today, Company A has the most valuable brand in the world. With its consumer focus, an amazing strength an innovation and product design, and world-class execution, Company A has dominated the world in its chosen markets to the tune of $108B in FY 2011. Company A is also the most valuable company in the world based on market valuation.

In a different situation, Sam took over as CEO in 2002 of a company founded in 1911. Through its long history, Company _B_ has created the 2nd most visible brand in the world. With its business focus, an amazing strength an innovation and product design, and world-class execution, Company B has dominated the world in its chosen marketplace to the tune of $107B in FY 2011. Company B is also 1 of the top 5 most valuable companies in the world based on market valuation. In fact, last year an investor named Warren bought almost $11B worth of company B stock citing the company’s long history of excellence.

FY 2012 brought CEO changes at both organizations for different reasons.

Tragically, Steve passed away after illness just as the new fiscal year is starting leaving the company in Tim’s hands. Much has been written about Steve’s legacy and leadership choices. Some have voiced concern about the future of Company A without Steve since he seemed to make himself indispensable. Externally, he was the visible face of Company A. Internally, projects that Steve was personally involved in got fast tracked while others languished.

At the same time, Sam retired from Company B and handed the CEO reins to Ginni. Little fanfare accompanied Sam’s departure. Some news outlets did cover the powerfully simple framework of questions Sam had used to lead the company’s world-wide employee group of over 350,000. Here they are:

Why would someone spend their money with you — so what is unique about you?

Why would somebody work for you?

Why would society allow you to operate in their defined geography — their country?

And why would somebody invest their money with you?

My C-suite clients and I were talking about the probability of future success of both organizations. We discussed the insight offered by author Jim Collins in his book How The Mighty Fall. In particular, we considered the results of Collins’ research on successfully resilient organizations and his advice for CEOs: utilize rigorous discipline, question relentlessly, be humble and avoid arrogance, watch for risk denial, be wary of silver-bullets.

In the end, our conversations return to the choices made by Steve and Sam. Choices around customers, competitors, costs, capital, and communities are very different between companies focused on consumers and businesses. At the same time, choices around discipline, insight, creativity, support, and values do not need to be different. Steve and Sam made very different choices yet were both been remarkably successful. Their legacies have yet to be written and will become clearer with time.

We did agree that Sam did not receive the notoriety he deserved.

What do you think?

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Zappos Great Model Can Work 4 U2!

I am over 50. I did not go to Harvard. I did not start my own business at age 22 and sell it 2 years later for hundreds of millions to Microsoft or Google. I am not a Twitter expert. Some could say I have little in common with Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh.

I am, however, a business leader. I have a broad range of experience leading companies, both large and small. I am also a huge supporter and practitioner of Zappos path to success:

1. focus primarily on employee culture and values, to

2. deliver the best possible customer service

Tony points to research on Happiness and how he applied it to run a better business. I point to research provided by John Kotter and James Heskett twenty years ago in Corporate Culture and Performance that leads to the same conclusion, and one offered by legendary management guru Peter Drucker – “Culture eats strategy for lunch.”

In businesses ranging from a start-up with $1M in revenue to a global organization with revenues exceeding $12B, I can point to many examples over 20 years where we used a Zappos-like focus to drive consistent growth. Further, I developed my own roadmap to establish strong, positive cultures in each of these situations. The roadmap is called All-In Leadership.

Critical parts of the All-In Leadership roadmap include a balance of Discipline, Insight, Support, Creativity, and Values that enable employees to excel and achieve the organization’s goals. Each of those choices can be further broken down into specific areas that help unlock the potential in others.

Access the free summary of All-In Leadership on this site that includes a specific case study of where we tripled the growth rate of a $3B global business and sustained that growth for three years.

I remain a fan and customer of Tony Hsieh and Zappos. Hopefully, many more companies will follow what has become known as a Zappos approach. It can work 4 U2!

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Flip Flopper or the Right Leader?

“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.” When Ralph Waldo Emerson penned these famous words in Self Reliance, he never envisioned 24-hour cable news or the craziness of today’s presidential nominating process. Emerson did, however, offer a key to successful leadership—the willingness to learn and adjust.

While former Gov. Mitt Romney endures a relentless state-by-state marathon of delivering stump speeches and interviews along the campaign trail, we are treated to a seemingly non-stop set of reminders of the list of positions that he has adjusted over the course of a long and successful career in business and politics. Several of the shifts that occurred on major social issues, such as healthcare, have been described by his detractors as “flip-flops.”

But Romney’s not alone. Democrats have had their share of accused flip-floppers too, including President Barack Obama, whose more liberal wing is as frustrated with his lack of action on gun control and other issues than the more conservative wing

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is about Romney. In the polarizing, partisan world of today’s primary politics, Republicans and Democrats reward candidates that are clear, confident, concise, convincing, and above all, consistent.

While consistency and standing firm reinforces attitudes, builds confidence, becomes a rallying cry among followers, and often earns the derision and enmity of one’s competitors, it fails to account for changes in the social climate, the needs and desires of voters (consumers) and seesaw economic conditions. Being mindlessly rigid does not accomplish objectives, and frequently stifles rather than fosters progress.

The success of any enterprise, public or private, rests firmly on the ability of its leadership to adapt to constant change. In business, a leader must guide a company to adapt and meet the often shifting needs of the majority. A truly successful venture may need to change direction, take in new partners and fund investments that may have seemed uninviting in the past to contend with new markets and new competitors. This requires a high degree of flexibility and wisdom to apply the right amount of strategic and tactical adjustments that will deliver the desired results.

A company’s ability to adapt to the economy, climate, rapid marketplace fluctuations, and unforeseen situations is an essential characteristic for success. Consider that iconic 100 year-old IBM (formerly International Business Machines) now gets less than 20% of its revenue from machines. Also, consider the following two quotes: “640K ought to be enough for anybody,” and “There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home.” The first was made by Microsoft CEO Bill Gates. The second was offered by Digital Equipment Company CEO Ken Olsen. Any guess which executive adjusted?

A leader who is accused of flip-flopping on an issue, policy or a plan may have his or her eye on a much bigger picture and just may be adjusting for more than votes or short term gains. They may have a more insightful view of how to achieve sustainable, long term success. Whether it’s your new CEO or a presidential candidate, you may want to re-evaluate your opinion about their positions. Adaptability is a quality you should want in your leader; that is, if you want success.

Emerson was right.

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All-In Women Leaders: Just In Time

I first met Susan McKay more than 30 years ago when we were both hired by Sperry Corporation as sales trainees. In 1980, Susan joined Sperry in Philadelphia after four remarkable years at Franklin & Marshall College where she earned an amazing 12 Varsity letters in field hockey, basketball, and lacrosse. She was also a nationally ranked squash player who built an equally strong academic record. Susan and I did not work closely together after training ended, but I was not at all surprised to see Susan repeatedly promoted in subsequent years.

At Sperry, Susan stood out for several reasons. She displayed both strong personal discipline and confidence in spite of a new setting. She seemed to know where she was going and that insight led many to admire her. Susan had an aptitude for team building and liked to support others. She worked very hard to create her future. In addition, Susan’s humility struck her contemporaries as representative of a strong set of values. Susan quickly established a track record of success in a culture that was dominated by men.

Years later, I was running a marketing unit for the company and I had the opportunity to add Susan to my team. I jumped at it. While Susan continued to deliver strong results, it was clear that she needed help to continue her rise up the corporate ladder. There were very few female role models for her to follow. I approached senior executive Joseph Tucci to sponsor Susan for a $10,000 Executive Presence Program specifically developed for women. This was the first request of its kind and Joe agreed. With support, Susan continued to build a successful career and is representative of many other women who are leaders in American business today.

I share this story in part because many organizations are now benefitting from strong leadership by women who started their careers at a time when men dominated corporate leadership positions. While Meg Whitman at Hewlett-Packard and Virginia Rometty at IBM have earned recent headlines, they join a long list of women who are leading major companies. Indra Nooyi at Pepsico, Ursula Burns at Xerox, and Irene Rosenfeld at Kraft are among other women currently leading Fortune 500 companies.

More importantly, as American businesses struggle, the increasing number of women leaders at all levels is perhaps one of our best reasons for optimism. While each story of success is unique, these leaders share common threads. In the face of daunting odds, every successful woman has earned a place of leadership with a combination of strong skills, hard work, personal choices, and the support of others. They have demonstrated resilience and delivered results.

These role models displayed a combination of discipline, insight, support, creativity, and values that positioned them for greater impact. I refer to these actions and attributes as All-In Leadership because they lead to engagement of all the leaders in an organization. Further, these are the essential elements that enabled many women leaders to climb the corporate ladder as they made positive impacts along the way.

Significantly, these very same factors are also of paramount importance in our current volatile business environment where so many organizations are experiencing poor performance. Corporations are facing new challenges and an increasing need for leadership throughout their organizations. In fact, the ascension of All-In women leaders in American business is not only really good news—it may be just in time.

As companies search for every competitive advantage in challenging times, all leaders would benefit from the lessons taught by All-In women leaders. One of them is Susan McKay, who currently works at technology giant EMC in Hopkinton, Mass. EMC’s visionary CEO is Joe Tucci.

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Young War Veterans Redefine Leadership

Although Veterans Day was celebrated last week, Time magazine ran a great article focused on members of our military on August 29th with a cover story titled: “The New Greatest Generation—How young war veterans are redefining leadership at home.” While November 11th offers us all an important annual reminder of the debt we owe our veterans and the opportunity to say thank you for their sacrifices on our behalf today and in the past, Time’s Joe Klein makes the case that veterans also offer us hope for the future as they bring a new set of skills home—when we need them most. Here are some of the skills veterans offer:

Discipline – “Every military officer was trained to construct an action plan for every mission. We were taught to write a five-paragraph memo…The inevitable military acronym is SMESC…Situation: What’s the problem? Mission: What’s our strategy for solving it? Execution: What tactics are we going to use? Support: What are the logistics? Command: What other organizations will have to be involved?”

Insight/Self-understanding – It is true our completely volunteer military is comprised of individuals who join for varied reasons. Still, common threads of gratitude for freedom, generosity and service run throughout our armed forces. “Public-service warriors” include Seth Moultin, the Harvard valedictorian, who decided to join the Marines because it was the “highest form of service.”

Support – “The First Mission: Taking Care of One Another… Veterans are trained to believe that everyone in their unit rises and falls together. In the military, it’s never about you (according to former Special Operations leader Jason Lewis). It’s always about something larger. ”

Creativity – Military personnel are completely aligned in their speech and action. They create the future effectively with this clarity. “They look you straight in the eye when they talk; they can be funny as hell, but their language isn’t fancy…they don’t mince words.”

Values – Our military has been trained to live a life of values, including hard work, honesty, teamwork, respect, honor, humility, and service. “They tend to view public life through the prism of military values – which are, at times, contradictory.”

As many young veterans come back from war, they return to a country many would say is going in the wrong direction. Economically, socially and politically, it is true we are facing daunting challenges and are in need of effective leadership to turn things around. The article quotes General David Patraeus, who offers a perspective on why these young veterans provide a reason for optimism:

“These soldiers had to rebuild communities and make difficult decisions under huge pressure. They’ve had to show incredible flexibility, never knowing whether they’re going to be greeted with a handshake or a hand grenade. They’ve been exposed to experiences that are totally unique, compared with most Americans. Once they’ve seen the elephant, they surely can help rebuild Joplin. I believe they are our next great generation of leaders.”

Personally, I have never served in the military. I did meet General Patraeus in Iraq and worked closely with military personnel when I was President of Lucent’s Government unit and we installed a wireless communication system to support military operations in Baghdad and other major cities in Iraq. I was always in awe of the leadership skills displayed by our men and women in uniform.

At a time when leadership seems in short supply and high demand, Klein offers a perspective that young veterans are redefining leadership. I am not so sure. Perhaps the military’s definition of leadership has been there all the time and we are just now taking another look at a time when we need it most. Either way, we agree that we can look to our military as a source of pride, inspiration and true

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leadership.

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