One of my favorite regular reads is the New York Times’ “Corner Office” column in which journalist Adam Bryant distills lessons and learnings from CEOs across a wide range of industries. In my post today are lessons from two recent columns on the importance of focus and relationships.
From Mike O’Neill, CEO of BMI, a music-rights management company:
O’Neill’s overriding message is one of focus – focus on individual people such that you see them for who each person uniquely is; focus on the task at hand to bring your best self to each moment; and focus on the journey itself for the moments of joy possible in every understanding.
- Respect the Individual: “You can’t treat everybody the same. People are different. You can have a tendency to think everyone’s going to receive information or react to it like you would, and they’re not.”
- Focus: “One of my favorite things when we go into a staff meeting is to say: ‘Anybody waiting on a call? Is there an emergency? If not, turn your phones off. We’re here for 35 minutes to an hour, whichever it may be. We can focus for that.’”
- Develop patience: “It’s not a race. I didn’t become chief executive when I graduated college. It took me a long time, and part of that journey is fun. You’ve got to enjoy the ride.”
From Pedro Pizarro, CEO of Edison International, the public utility holding company:
Pizarro speaks to the power of people and the importance of human connection – strong relationships are the basis for the trust needed for all team members to contribute from their unique strengths and achieve greater success together.
- Build strong relationships to create a feedback-ready culture: “You can have a strong relationship with somebody, but you also need to be ready to be candid and give feedback. I say to my team that they need to be ready to call me on something, and that requires a level of trust. Because there are times when I’m flat-out wrong."
- Demonstrate what you want to see: “One thing I do with some of my closest partners at work is to tell them that they should sometimes really disagree with me—genuinely, of course—in open settings, so people see that somebody whom I value can debate with me. You can talk all you want about trust and disagreement, but unless you provide concrete examples of it in action, it’s kind of flat.”
- Diversity strengthens: “With the first group I managed, I had somebody who was very different from the rest of us… The guy actually saved our bacon a couple of times because we had reached conclusions that were off. And even though we felt he was a pain, he made us look at the question again. It was a great lesson about diversity of viewpoints. We all had to adapt to each other.”
How does any of this relate to compensation? “Corner Office” columns tend to follow a formula of childhood, education, first job, leadership style, and hiring methodology. Except for a person’s childhood, all of those attributes play into the compensation decisions we make every day for new hires and tenured employees, alike. Gaining wisdom on the very human elements of good hiring and management practices nearly always boils down to good compensation practice.
What key compensation or leadership lessons have you learned during your career?
As Globoforce’s Vice President of Client Strategy and Consulting, Derek Irvine is an internationally minded management professional with over 20 years of experience helping global companies set a higher ambition for global strategic employee recognition, leading workshops, strategy meetings and industry sessions around the world.He is the co-author of "The Power of Thanks" and his articles on fostering and managing a culture of appreciation through strategic recognition have been published in Businessweek, Workspan and HR Management. Derek splits his time between Dublin and Boston. Follow Derek on Twitter at @DerekIrvine.