January 30, 2006

Good day, team,

This week’s challenge comes from an article from “Fast Company” that one of my clients shared with me. In “Can C.K. Prahalad Pass the Test?” technology professor and CEO C.K. Prahalad shares what he’s learned so far in his many years in business, giving great advice on leadership and managerial skills.

1) *When the going is roughest, leadership matters*. In times of trouble, Prahalad says, “Leaders must behave like emotional and intellectual anchors. There are no external cues now. The critical issue is about faith, passion, and, most important, authenticity-so people know you are not pretending. People see a sham.”

2) *Successful managers embrace discomfort*. “If you do precisely what you’re supposed to do, and you’re boxed in, then you’re going to do that very well.” But if pressed to do things that aren’t in your normal job description, he says, the challenge can push you to a new level of achievement.

3) *Great leaders stay on message*. For Prahalad, nothing is more important than reminding people what his company stands for. “I spend a lot of time talking about what we’re doing in terms of strategy. You have to give the same message over and over again.”

4) *It’s not one person. It’s not the team. It’s both*. A painting of a pack of wolves in Prahalad’s office symbolizes the combination of leadership and teamwork that pervades successful organizations. “With wolves, solidarity is first,” says Prahalad. “But when they hunt, they change roles. The implicit hierarchy depends on who does what. In an organization, one unique person makes a difference, but you need teamwork to make it happen.”

5) *Think? Act? Balance the two*. “In a company like ours, if we want to do something, we can just call a meeting. But in a small company, you have to exercise caution and build your own personal dampers so that you don’t act on everything. Sometimes not acting may be smart. But if I get the feeling that everybody’s becoming so thoughtful that nobody’s doing anything, I want to go and light some fires somewhere.”

Your challenge this week is to choose one of these five suggestions and apply it practically in your job. Maybe you will try being more authentic with your team members, or perhaps you’ll consider not doing something instead of forging ahead. You might choose to consider whether you’re consistent in your messages to your team and whether you’re sharing strategic direction as well as tactical suggestions. Whatever you choose, see if it makes a difference with your team.

Have a great week!


Kathleen Doyle-White
Pathfinders Coaching
(503) 296-9249

*Many thanks to Mike Costello, manager from Wells Fargo Bank, and his team member Asha, whose uncle is the subject of this article. I appreciate your sharing his wisdom.

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