A weekly roundup of the most interesting, useful and thought-provoking articles to help you be a better leader. This week we’re focusing on agility.
Our take: What to do after your co-CEO steps down unexpectedly, after only a year? For Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, major personnel changes in his management team was the answer (as well as laying off 10% of his global workforce).
After only 6 months, he had new hires in place for his chief positions, while changing the responsibilities of his COO.
The new hires were mostly employees who had previously worked for Salesforce, signalling his willingness to make improvements, while not completely disrupting the team dynamic.
Key takeaway: Benioff’s strategic agility in response to his co-CEO stepping down indicated his ability to make organizational changes quickly and efficiently, softening the blow (somewhat) of the simultaneous layoffs.
Get out of the middle. This Fast Company article advises CEOs to stop putting yourselves in the middle of all decisions – instead, set up strong strategic priorities and let your team find the best ways to execute them.
Our take: Building a company that can pivot on a dime during uncertain times is essential. The key to this is an agile leadership team.
If employees are provided with a solid plan and clear direction, management can create a team environment where members collaborate, adjust quickly, and always know the strategic priorities they’re aiming to achieve.
This kind of team functioning means that the CEO doesn’t need to step in to play umpire – you can focus on your own leadership style that ensures those who report to you know what your vision is and how you want it achieved.
Key takeaway: Agile teams require agile leadership. Ask yourself: Is my team clear about our strategic priorities? If the answer is no, be willing to change your approach so that your team can adjust theirs.
Our take: Why do some companies flounder in difficult times, while others thrive after adversity? These authors believe it’s because of strategic agility.
When disaster hits, the companies that succeed are the ones that are able to “deviate from their strategic plan and adapt to the changing environment.”
This requires a nimbleness to avoid the worst impacts, the ability to absorb the damage being inflicted, and resilience to accelerate past the problems faster than your competitors.
Key takeaway: Being agile is about seeing the problem clearly and quickly, and then adapting your strategic plan to the immediate issues. The key is speed over perfection during uncertainty or sudden difficulties.
🎧 For Leaders: Teradata CEO Steve McMillan
Steve McMillan has been interested in computer programming since he was 10 years old. Adding degrees in management and computer science led him to his role as CEO of Teradata.
His leadership philosophy aligns his company’s strategic goals with his focus on people and culture.
In this episode, Steve shares key insights on:
Transforming Teradata’s vision to emphasize innovation and progress
His leadership style of matching strategic goals with each situation’s nuances
What he dubs his “workout routine” when it comes to company culture
Every week, we share an interesting long-form piece of content to contemplate.
There are helpful examples of companies that have implemented successful agility programs (e.g., NASA, Ford Motor Company, Siemens, Daimler, and J.W. Thompson), which will evoke ideas for your own company.
The top takeaway, though, was what lies behind the strategies. The authors lead readers through a sort of sociological history of agile thinking in business, allowing for great reflection on how this type of thinking could be relevant to you.
Learning how to incorporate agile thinking for both yourself and in the way you lead your company can be a transformative journey.