Starting From Scratch: Make Over Your Business (and Your Self)
Robert S. Kaplan is president and chief executive of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. Previously, he was the Senior Associate Dean for External Relations and Martin Marshall Professor of Management Practice in Business Administration at Harvard Business School. He is also co-chairman of Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation, a global venture philanthropy firm, as well as chairman and a founding partner of Indaba Capital Management. Before joining Harvard in 2005, Kaplan was vice chairman of the Goldman Sachs Group with responsibilities for Global Investment Banking and Investment Management.
He has written several books on leadership and goal development, including ‘What You’re Really Meant To Do: A Road Map For Reaching Your Unique Potential’ published by Harvard Business Review Press. You can read his most recent essay here.
Robert Kaplan: If you’re not talking to your people and you’re not seeking feedback from your people who are at the point of attack, or you’re not out with your clients or your customers sufficiently, you can find that you’re behind the curve and you’re a little bit out of touch, and you’ll catch these things too late. A leader needs to be out there, needs to be out there with clients, needs to be out there with his or her people and needs to be asking questions and seeking advice, but the other thing a leader needs to do is be stepping back every 6 or 12 months, or however often is necessary, and asking: what are the changes out there and, if we had to start with a clean sheet of paper, is this still the way we’d do it? Most of us in leadership positions often are too emotionally close to the way we currently do things to objectively do all of that exercise by ourselves.
Take two or three or four of your up and coming outstanding professionals and give them this assignment--it may be with the business unit or a department or maybe with the whole company, if necessary, and basically say: if we had to start from scratch, are these the markets we would serve, are these the people we would have here, are we organized in the right way, is this the way we would pay people, how should the leadership style of the leader change? Invariably, they will come back with fabulous advice. You as the leader may not agree with all of it, but you will get some great advice.
All of us have blind spots. I don’t care how good you are, how ever present you are, how insightful you are, there are just certain things that are going on in the world that you miss. A lot of change is almost imperceptible, and you can’t be everywhere, and so it pays to go back and ask this question and look at your business or your organization with a clean sheet of paper.
Directed / Produced by
Jonathan Fowler & Elizabeth Rodd
If you’re not talking to your people, seeking feedback, and listening to your clients or your customers, you'll find that you're behind the curve. Here's how you can start over.
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