By now, you know that the Sunday NY Times Corner Office series is oft-quoted here to highlight varying aspects of leadership that flow from Adam Bryant’s conversations with notable CEOs and business leaders.
This week he interviewed Drew Gilpin Faust, the first female President of Harvard University. Communication is a critical factor in her leadership style, and I can concur with the extraordinary importance this has in a university setting, having spent 6 months consulting with UCLA. The university community is a diverse governance conundrum with many cooks and few bottle washers, so communication is vital across all of the constituencies and leadership platforms. It’s no less important in your organization but the style required in a university setting sets a high standard for what’s required from all business leaders.
She also emphasizes the value of MBWA … the leadership tactic of “Management by Walking Around” mentioned often here. She also emphasizes the value of people … maybe more obvious in a university or service setting … but we are all in the people business … first and foremost … and the sooner business leaders realize that and focus their attention accordingly, the quicker they’ll harvest this extraordinary value that’s right in front of them.
Finally, an interesting take on strategy that she borrowed from Michael Porter, and a phrase that stuck with her: “Strategy is what you choose not to do.” There’s a lot to that phrase, and whether it reminds you that your strategy genuinely reflects what you choose NOT to do or is a result of what you don’t do, it will help you to keep it in focus as you consider taking shortcuts to arrive at the optimal strategy to drive your organization.