Monday, May 04, 2009

How to Avoid Becoming a Boiled Frog.

After 171 years of doing business, it's safe to say that the company Procter & Gamble (P&G) stands out as a strong survivor, not to mention, "thriver" in the cutthroat world of business. P&G is one of only nine companies from the Fortune 50 from 1955, to remain on that list. The other eight companies - six oil companies, Boeing, General Electric - may partially owe their survival to what's often called the "Military-industrial complex (MIC)", rather than their philosophy, way of doing business, reputation, "out of the box" thinking, and Value-Based Leadership.

According to Bob McDonald, current Chief Operating Officer of P & G, it’s not buildings, employees, brands, technology or product that qualify as the scarcest resource in today's's leadership, because nothing happens without leadership. And by leadership, he means distributed leadership, in other words, leadership that's not designated by a person’s title or position, but an environment that fosters the idea that everyone can be a leader and that the leadership shifts depending upon what the issue or situation is.

McDonald believes discovering your purpose is essential to good leadership and to do that one must examine his values by, in his own words, “getting in touch with my culture, experiences, education, family” and that “leading a life driven by purpose leads to a more meaningful and rewarding life than meandering without direction.”

Once discovered, reassessing those core vales and beliefs by self examination, and focusing on the capabilities that you do not have, are absolutely necessary to thrive and survive in this "volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous world."

In addition, he uses as an example of why some companies don't survive, the parable of the boiling frog, which is basically to remain alert and responsive to gradual changes all around you.

“Character is the most important trait of a leader -- defined as always putting the needs of the organization above your own. The officer eats last. ... If your ambition is for the organization, people will follow you. If you’re a leader whose ambition is all for your self, people will figure that out.”

Robert (Bob) McDonald


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