Global management expert Peter Drucker once said, “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”
Farmers whose businesses have grown over the years have extensive experience in managing farms and animals. Managing people is another story. It takes an altogether different skill set and requires the ability to lead people to excellence.
Individuals, companies, and organizations can be deemed “leaders,” though the practice of influencing others and setting an example varies substantially from one entity to another.
MetLife board chairman Rob Henrikson has led by example his entire career, earned presidential appointments, and attained the respect of global titans, as described in the article, “Dynamic global leadership,” by Michelle Valigursky. Henrikson believes managing change and effectively leading through it is the keystone of a leader. He uses the conversion of MetLife from a private to public company as an example.
“MetLife was a mutual life insurance company,” he said in the article. “Can you imagine being with a huge financial institution with a history of mutual insurance then converting to a public company?”
The company is now the 49th largest in the Fortune 500. This identity challenge faced, Henrikson reflected. “We have very smart people, but we didn’t have all the competencies to take the company public. We needed to hire and we had to see who could survive that massive change. Sometimes you have to make choices, and you can’t wait too long. In people management, always strive for getting the right balance between acting too fast or waiting too long.”
Lead with Integrity
Allen Morrison, associate dean of executive development at the Ivey Business School, University of Western Ontario, feels integrity forms the bedrock of character and is essential in sustainable leadership. His research interests focus on global leadership, global strategy, and the management of multinational companies.
“Without integrity, managers will never engender the goodwill and trust of the organization, both essential for effective leadership. While all managers inevitably confront ethical issues, leaders confront them on a regular basis. Because of the frequency and depth of ethical challenges they face, global leaders need a unique set of competencies in order to maintain their personal integrity and build a consistent set of values for the global organization.
Morrison feels Integrity is demonstrated at two levels: interactions that are external to the business and interactions that are internal to it.
“External interactions include those activities through which the company is represented to the outside world. They can involve negotiations with suppliers or customers, interactions with government officials, relationships with competitors, and so on. Internal interactions are those that involve individuals or groups within the company,” Morrison says.
The commitment to high personal and company standards not only prevents hazards, but also promotes numerous benefits. It is only through the exercise of integrity that a leader can bring out the most in employees.
Case Study: Du Pont Greater China
A good example of this is found in Du Pont in China. Morrison explains that in 1997, Du Pont Greater China employed over 1,000 people in 8 different cities in China. Du Pont recognizes the importance of maximizing employee commitment and has worked hard to strengthen the loyalty of its Chinese employees. Beijing-based Sonny Matocha, Managing Director, Operations for Du Pont Greater China provided some unique insights on the role of integrity in leadership:
“In China, people do not naturally differentiate between management and leadership. They have a tendency to do what they are told. . . . In the past, they have been told that the managers are the leaders, so management has automatically come to mean leadership. And so they don't differentiate between the two and do not fully understand the implications of true leadership. This has been compounded by the many instances where their superiors have not kept their commitments. One of the results of this is that the Chinese have come to listen to the words of superiors, but gauge their interpretation and personal behavior based on the manager's actions. While they do not challenge authority, they are very cynical about it. They tend to do their jobs and nothing more. [We have learned that] if you want to lead in China, your employees must believe in you. They must trust you fully. Once this happens, their productivity, commitment, and creativity go way up. But they must see you as an ethical, trustworthy person, who will not compromise no matter what.”
The connection between leadership and trust is clear. The example from Du Pont Greater China suggests that a strong positive relationship between trust and employee contributions.
No matter where you lead in the world, no matter what your cultural expectations, “When you reach a certain level, you face challenges every day,” says Geri Schachner, Estee Lauder’s senior vice president of global communications. In her world, managing the dynamics of cultural interaction requires the diplomacy and attention to detail.
She attributes her success and ability to push boundaries to the help and guidance of valuable mentors throughout her career.
“Find a mentor or two. You’ll be lucky if you find one early on,” Schachner says, noting her first mentor at Pepsico who still gives her advice. “In different cultures, I’m learning how to do business in places not within my comfort zone. So I found another mentor at Estée Lauder. Beauty was not the industry I grew up into. Sometimes your mentors are not as obvious as you want them to be. But look for that person, get close to that person and learn from him or her.”
Schachner also feels leaders must embrace the industry they represent and make a connection. “You have to represent the brand in everything you do, the way you interact, the way you communicate. Live your industry,” she suggests.
Leaders are powerful communicators, and future leaders would do well to hone their skills. Speaking and writing effectively is vital, because leaders must be able to take complicated ideas and distill them into easily understandable terms in a persuasive manner.
Henrikson reflects on his tenure as a highly visible global leader and offers this advice to those setting their sights high: “I am a big believer in learning more about yourself, learning how to learn, learning how to communicate, and more specifically, learning how to write. All of this has been extremely important in my career.
“Your life experiences shape everything about you as a leader, from the vision you lay out to the strategies you think will be effective,” he says. “Learning from those experiences is critical to becoming an effective leader.”
Success can be measured in many ways, but Henrikson makes a point about failure, and the importance of allowing followers the opportunity to fail, and learn from those failures.
“You have to be in the batter’s box. You can’t take someone at two balls and a strike and pull them out and put them in another job. They have to learn on their own,” Henrikson says.
Integrity First, Always
Creating and maintaining a moral environment for an organization is a never-ending job, says Morrison. “In a world that is often uncomfortable passing judgement on anything, global leaders stand out for their resolve and are often under attack.”
In the final analysis, integrity and leadership are inextricably linked.
This article originally appeared in the June 2016 issue of Pork Network.