First learnings in a learning journey

21 Jan

I’m a fan of the New York Times’ Sunday Corner Office column, a conversation on leadership and management with leading CEOs. I found Cristóbal Conde’s interview Jan. 17 more enlightening and invigorating than usual. I was thrilled to hear he looks for staff who are thinking critically, people who are challenging standard ideas and notions. Whenever I’ve taken The Leadership Practices Inventory, (based on the book The Leadership Challenge), one of my top practices has been “Challenge the Process.” I felt re-inspired about the value of this talent in organizational life, that there ARE organizations which value questioning the status quo.

I also appreciated his praise of writing skills. I was a print journalism major as an undergrad, and I used to consider writing ability my No.-1 strength in the workplace. I often told students and new grads that writing skills were something they should hone in on, no matter what their major, no matter what their chosen career path. However, in the past few years I’ve sort of devolved away from an emphasis on writing, almost to the point of devaluing it in this Twitter-happy, 140-character society. I’m reminded afresh that it’s still a top-tier strength, and we should all recommit to its value.

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Another Conde point: He strongly recommends spending time in sales at some point in your career. About seven years ago, I consciously chose a sales job because I knew that at some level, a marketer with no sales experience lacks a certain credibility. I felt it was essential to my future advancement. While sales didn’t feel like a permanent career shift for me, and I don’t think I will seek out a purely sales job again, it was one of the most valuable and instructive roles in my career so far. And as a measures-oriented marketer, I loved the objectivity of sales. You either make your numbers or you don’t!

There’s much, much more of value in Conde’s interview — every answer is significant. His comments about the unsustainability of micromanagement are spot-on. Check it out for yourself.

Confidential P.S. to the New York Times: It will be a sad day when you make us pay for your content. Sigh.

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