What does Wall Street need to do to produce better leaders, a different culture and a more long-term focus? Interestingly, Lloyd C. Blankfein, the CEO of Goldman, set it out quite clearly in an interview with The New York Times this weekend. Goldman is the Wall Street institution that arguably best weathered the current economic storm. The key, according to Blankfein, is "communicating, teamwork, and driving and promoting this sense of partnership."
Blankfein emphasized the things a leader needs to do to truly engage employees that you can't do with financial incentives alone. Yes, incentives are important, but they need to be balanced with the actions that Blankfein prioritized, like sending a voicemail almost daily to the whole firm and using the shoe-leather strategy, walking around and directly answering people's questions.
People want to be actively engaged, to be part of a strong culture, to feel meaning and connection in their day-to-day work, and to have honest, emotionally literate leaders to whom they can relate and communicate. The more virtual the world gets, the more personal and approachable leadership has to be. This is doubly true in the aftermath of a downturn as steep as this one.
Over the last several years, studies indicate that fully half of managers don't trust leadership and do not believe their leaders have a credible plan, or the ability to execute upon it. Externally, meanwhile, a mere 17 percent of respondents believe what they hear from the lips of a CEO--so there's a mammoth work of reconstruction to be done. For the leader, then, credibility and integrity are key--we have to constantly reinforce what the company stands for, and what will not be tolerated.
Research and experience tells us that sustainable organizations need four elements: a culture with a reputation for integrity and a solid commitment to corporate responsibility; employees able to see a clear path from their day-to-day work to the strategy of the organization; leaders who are honest, adaptable, and engaged, and sensible financial incentives. That combination produces real engagement: It's what President Kennedy did for the American public when he observed that space possibly held "the key to our future on earth." Today's leader needs to make a similar leap, connecting employees directly to their customers and the markets that they serve.
Posted by: llllllllllll1163887541111dd | September 15, 2009 8:28 PM
Report Offensive Comment
The comments to this entry are closed.