Saturday, February 12, 2005

Carly! Are You Listening?

Carly Fiorina, one of the most powerful and celebrated women in business, was fired by her board of directors at HP.

Whoa!

My read of the news reports covering her axing is that she was in total denial. She got advice from almost everyone around her that she was taking HP in the wrong direction.

This whole trauma could have been avoided.

Even when we are certain we are right, if everyone around is challenging critical decisions it is time to reflect. It is not the time to put your hands over your ears!

LEADERSHIP is as contextual a skill as is Contextual Marketing.

We need to keep our leadership actions inside a context that goes beyond the one we see so clearly before our eyes. Absolute power is not a trivial thing to exploit, because few of us are in a position to plunge forward without due regard to those around us ... the essence of context.

Ego-driven authoritarian decision making cannot long survive. There's always someone else who is really in charge. Today, it is the customer, the shareholder, the stakeholder, the blogosphere. Leaders who go up against this constituency without adding value to overcome naysayers, walk on thin ice. Some like Ms. Fiorina fall through.

Better to live a model of servant leadership. When we serve our customers, employees and other vital communities, we become stronger leaders. Pride, arrogance and fear must be uprooted and replaced with love and concern. This does not mean replacing with weakness, ambivalence and indecision. If we listen real sharply to what people around us are saying (not what we want to hear them saying), then we can get good advice upon which to make great decisions.

Just because we are in positions of power does not excuse us from the need to listen. In fact, it makes listening even more essential.

Listening - all day long - is the most important skill we can use to build successful careers.

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