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POWERFUL QUOTES FROM LEADERS

1. Not on some analogical version of vicarious liability. Evidence has demonstrated step by painstaking step.

2. A company is much more than the sum of its inputs and outputs. It is people that matter more than anything else in business. it is people – their collective ability and energy, how they feel about working in the organisation, how passionate and engaged they are in its agenda and how they work together for a common purpose – that makes a company great.

3. It could only be explained, she argued, by prurience, callousness, and lack of judgment.

4. Focusing on core – what we are good at, where we are good at it, what is material, what is financially compelling, and where we are and can be successful.

5. Instil a high performance ethic, with personal accountability, reduced unnecessary bureaucracy, spending less time internally and more externally, and continuing to build on our values and culture.

6. I have therefore made personal accountability central to how we should operate, eliminating unnecessary committees, and speeding up decision making, which enriches everyone’s roles.

7. We also need to instil a greater sense of urgency in the way we operate. Our shareholders have been incredibly patient, but won’t be for long.

8. The future is one of great opportunities and that requires confidence and leadership and it will be lost if we embrace the politics of fear and scaremongering.

9. He said policies would change in the light of changed conditions, but did not signal any immediate amendments to contentious issues including same sex marriage and climate policy.

10. He said the prime minister had failed to provide economic leadership; had lost the confidence of the business sector; had failed to explain to the public the challenges and opportunities the nation faced; and had developed policy on the run.

11. We need advocacy, not slogans.

12. And it’s fair to say that anybody who does this has a sickness in their minds, regardless of what they think their motivations may be.

13. The United States of America is the one advanced nation on Earth in which we do not have sufficient common-sense gun-safety laws – even in the face of repeated mass killings.”

14. When Americans are killed in mine disasters, we work to make mines safer. When Americans are killed in floods and hurricanes, we make communities safer. When roads are unsafe, we fix them to reduce auto fatalities. We have seat belt laws because we know it saves lives. So the notion that gun violence is somehow different, that our freedom and our Constitution prohibits any modest regulation of how we use a deadly weapon, when there are law-abiding gun owners all across the country who could hunt and protect their families and do everything they do under such regulations doesn’t make sense.

PROFILE OF GREG SOLOMON, MD OF McDONALD’s SA

The father of McDonald’s SA, Greg Solomon, is not one to turn down an opportunity. His journey from engineer to managing director is no secret recipe either.

As far as interviews go, meeting up with McDonald’s MD, Greg Solomon, at the launch of the company’s newest and greenest restaurant in Goodwood outside Cape Town, was by far the most colourful and exciting.

It was a beautiful Saturday morning. We were surrounded by so much colour and excitement. The celebrations were in aid of newest and greenest McDonald’s restaurant in Goodwood outside Cape Town. This newly erected steel frame restaurant is the latest creation forming part of many other sustainability measures the company has recently launched.

Before the interview, the Leadership team was privileged to be among the first to sample the latest addition to the McDonald’s stable — the all-new Texan burger.

From the start it becomes clear that the new shop is another grand step towards showcasing the direction of McDonalds in South Africa — and how the ‘green and growing’ vision is driven steadfastly by Solomon — and how his leadership is key to the success that the company has seen in recent times. Solomon confesses; he is all about the brand he represents.

From being a successful civil engineer, looking for a move into the commercial and residential sector, as opposed to the industrial environment, Greg Solomon found himself immersed in an industry that was, at the time, not quite what he was looking for, but it certainly was the right path to his success.

Solomon believes wholeheartedly that with a brand like McDonalds there is lots of room for growth, as he has experienced. “If you’re passionate, you can easily move through the ranks. If I think back, I have to be honest, I would have never thought that I would be here today — running this business and being you know the managing director.”

Solomon joined the McDonald’s group as a project manager in the construction department in 1996. During his tenure in this position he was instrumental in building some of the very first McDonald’s restaurants in South Africa. Almost eight years ago Solomon was approached by the then managing director Terry Reese, who was at the time in the process of localising management. Solomon spent extensive time gaining cross-function exposure, education and experience across the departments. Before assuming the role of managing director, he spent five years learning the science behind the McDonald’s business and gained experience in all the company’s operations.

Solomon is a revered leader and his style is somewhat unique. He displays a quiet confidence and strength when questioned about leadership. He places emphasis on growing new leaders out of his staff. He is quick to refer to the “next Greg Solomon” and together with a robust management system within the company, Solomon is set to grow, develop, inspire and identify any potential candidates who could rise to the role of leadership within the McDonald’s corporation.

He insists that being a leader is an organic role, which he has assumed and developed through inspiration from the people around him.

“When I look back now I think I wanted to lead. When I was younger, I just naturally lead. I did not have a dream to be some mega leader, but all the way through school I played a leadership role in some way or another. My final decision to sacrifice five years of engineering to work in the restaurants was about people and leading people.

“In hindsight I would say I followed my destiny. People inspire me in this business. I often do what I do for the people of this business. I wake up every single day to make somebody else’s dream materialise and somebody else becomes a leader in this business,” he says.

Leadership style

Solomon describes his leadership style as one of coaching and he enjoys a challenging environment surrounded by a diverse team. As head of the organisation, he likes to be challenged directly by his team as he believes that is how growth happens. Regarding his idea of, as he put it, creating an environment of positive discomfort: “This is not a business where I have just found a bunch of ‘Greg’s’ to follow me. That would make for a very boring and fragmented business. I purposely choose people who are going to challenge the system and challenge me. I have created an environment of positive discomfort if you want to put it that way, so that people are empowered.

“Leaders have to make decisions, but that is about 30%, maybe even 20%, of the time. The people who work for me are more clever than me. I am privileged to have recruited them, developed them and coached them. I need to listen to who they are and some of the best ideas come from the people in our franchises,” he says.

Solomon believes that it takes courage to challenge your leader but it takes courage as a leader to give permission to your people to challenge you.

“Good leaders need to make tough decisions and I guess I’ve never been scared to do that—to make those tough decisions when they need to be made,” he says.

Solomon points out, with pride, that although he cannot know the name of all 9 000 of his employees, he maintains an open door policy as does the rest of the McDonald’s company worldwide. He insists on managing his business through his people and has as strong a focus on accountability, as he has on profitability.

Solomon encourages communication with all his employees within the available means and is excited about a new digital platform the company has developed. He describes it as an internal Facebook where anybody in the company can write to or blog whoever they wish to communicate with.

What Solomon does not boast about is that under his leadership, the company has, over the past three years, enjoyed incremental sales growth, increased guest counts, improved customer service and operating income. The fact that he has been elected as the chairperson of the Board of Trustees of McDonald’s South Africa Pension and Provident Fund, is definitely a strong indication of the trust his people have in him.

Sustainability

Under Solomon’s direction, McDonald’s South Africa is now changing the way it builds its restaurants and has embarked on rolling out sustainable restaurants across the country. They have taken specific measures in their building design, making sure that natural light and heat from the sun complement a minimum air-conditioning design, which forms part of a programme that Solomon refers to as ‘Project Green and Growing’.

This visionary programme targets a 20% saving in water consumption, a 20% saving on electricity consumption, 20% saving on costs and 20% saving on construction time, as the brand continues on its strong growth path.

The new restaurants are built using light gauge steel and energy efficient cladding and insulation systems, which mean the restaurants cool down and warm up faster.

“We brought drive-thru to this country. We brought handheld breakfast to this country, we introduced 24/7 shops and now we’ve brought McCafe. McDonald’s need to continue to lead. We have an accountability, we have a responsibility to do that, so this building that we’re sitting in today is no different to probably 40% of the existing McDonald’s restaurants. What makes this fundamentally different is that it is a green McDonald’s. This is a McDonald’s that is striving to give back to the world and back to the planet. We started off with a vision, the green and growing vision,” he says.

Solomon is extremely passionate about his brand and due to his personal interest and passion in his work he strives to listen to his consumers as a consumer himself.

He has his favourites on the menu and is not afraid to share what he thoroughly enjoys on a weekly basis.

“I eat McDonald’s about five times a week, you know. My staple diet is the egg McMuffin. I ’eat my Big Mac once a week. The Big Tasty is my favourite dinner time food, which I have about every second week.

Regarding concerns about fast food being a major contributor to for example heart disease and obesity, Solomon told Leadership the company moving away from being a ‘fast food’ concern, to an establishment that is serving good food fast.

“We are a food business and we need to serve great tasting food that is good for people. At the end of the day we cannot serve people lettuce and tomatoes only—because we are a hamburger company with its heritage in the United States of America, but we are also very proudly a local South African company. Therefore we have to listen to what our local customs want, which explains why our menu has evolved so much.

“The chicken fold over is a local dish, and so is the corn option, the big breakfast and some of the McCafe products, like the carrot cake, is a real South African thing. So we are doing a lot of local meals because we are listening to the consumers.”

Solomon says health is paramount for him and the company and they will continue to pioneer and lead the way in this area.

“ Health extremists have defined health in a certain way, but for us it is about choice and education. The beauty is that we have built our business around a very diverse menu—from fresh juices, fish, chicken, beef and vegetarian meals. Interestingly enough, chicken is about 30% of our total business, fish is a growing part of our business right now. We’ve got different sizes, we’ve got fresh juices,” he says.

Greg Solomon and his team have an exceptionally inspirational outlook to how they run their business. Solomon says there is so much happening in the company and the growth factor is undeniable.

For this reason every employee gets a chance to be nurtured and everybody has the opportunity to gain something. Whether it be an education or simply being a part of a unique and innovative team.

Solomon’s vision and dream as a leader is to impact peoples lives positively, a vision he is fighting for within every decision he makes.

Megan Sell

Where is Your Inspirational Space?

Do you find time to get inspiration? And do you know how to become inspired? Some of us depend on other people to inspire us, and at other times we need to find inspiration for ourselves. I wonder what you do to find inspiration? I want to share what works for me:

  1. I need to be in a tidy spot. And I am a typical creative person, thus meaning I need to clean first…
  2. My head works best bright and early or very late at night.
  3. I need coffee and some snacks.
  4. Traveling really gets my inspiration working.
  5. Talking to someone, while having a white board close by to draw ideas on.
  6. Reading… I read a lot, the best fuel for knowledge and inspiration.
  7. Writing. I do write a lot to. Not all of it useful, but the fruit of this seed is ideas.

Finding my inspirational space is becoming more important to me as writing is getting more and more important in my life. But having inspirational space is not only for writing; it is for finding ideas, cleaning your thoughts and opening your mind. I use this time to reflect as well to balance my ideas to work in real life. But when inspiration is running on empty what do I do?

  1. I look at what I have done so far – Not what is left to do. You get more inspiration from what you have achieved so far; instead of looking at all you still have to do.
  2. A little progress is still progress. If you write one page each day, you will have a massive book in a year. If you do a little housework it is a little bit cleaner. Small steps are great.
  3. Do – Nike must have one of the best slogans in the world. “Just do it” – this is so true. I could plan my life to my grave, but to move forward I need to act.

Some dreams are small, some are life changing, do dare to follow some of your dreams. And one of my best tips for inspiration is to share your knowledge. Teaching other people what I already know is one of my best inspirational sources as it gives great meaning and purpose to my life.

By Gina Abudi, on December 5th, 2012

Do You Really Need to Say Thank You?

John, the CEO of a sales organization, sent an email to Tim, an employee several levels below, to complement him on his performance in a recent meeting. Tim did not respond to the email.

About a week later, he was in John’s office applying for an open position that would have been a promotion into a management role, when John asked him whether he had received the email. Yes, Tim said, he had. Why, John asked, hadn’t he responded? Tim said he didn’t see the need.

But Tim was wrong. John’s email deserved, at the very least, a “thank you.”

Tim didn’t get the promotion. Was he passed over solely because he didn’t thank John for the positive feedback? No. But was Tim’s lack of response one piece of the Tim puzzle that convinced John he should choose a better candidate? Undoubtedly.

Before you accuse John of being trivial or over-sensitive, before you condemn his poor hiring judgment, consider what saying “thank you” represents.

On a basic level, it communicates that you received the email. While there’s a lot of advice that discourages writing “thank you” emails because they contribute to email overload, I disagree. I answer every real email I receive because I want to avoid the recipient’s “Did Peter get my email and what’s he thinking?” angst. It takes three seconds to respond “thanks” and it completes the transaction initiated by the sender.

But an email that contains emotional content — like a compliment — deserves something longer: a real, thought-out “thank you” as opposed to a simple I-received-your-email “thank you.” When you offer a real thought-out “thank you” to someone, you’re acknowledging her effort, appreciating her thoughtfulness, recognizing her intent, and offering feedback on the impact of her actions.

Still, it’s more than that. Those things are rational, but saying “thank you” is mostly an emotional act. It connects one person to another. Saying “thank you” doesn’t just acknowledge someone’s effort, thoughtfulness, intent, or action. It acknowledges the person himself.

Acknowledging other people is a critical responsibility — perhaps the critical responsibility — of a great manager, especially in sales. Actually great manager is too high a bar. I might say it’s the critical skill of a good manager but even that’s understating it.

Acknowledging each other is our basic responsibility as human beings living in community with other human beings.

Go ahead and argue: We’re all too busy at work and in life to spend time exchanging pleasantries. If John needs so much stroking, he can’t possibly be a good CEO. He’s out of touch with the digital age where no answers are the accepted norm. If Tim is doing his work well, that’s all that matters. People are paid to do their jobs and they don’t need to be thanked. Saying “thank you” to your CEO for a nice email is nothing more than brown-nosing.

I would disagree with all those arguments. It doesn’t take long to say “thank you,” but it does take caring. John is an excellent CEO, with a staff, board, and shareholders who love him and for whom he delivers a high growth rate and excellent results. Not answering someone’s communication — text or email or phone call — is not an accepted norm, it represents a fundamental breakdown in communication about which I often hear people complain. Tim might be good at certain aspects of his job but he’s not “doing his work well,” if he’s not acknowledging the people around him. And, finally, saying “thank you” isn’t brown-nosing, it’s nice.

This all becomes more obvious if you take away the digital element. How would you feel if you complimented someone in person and he just walked away from you without saying anything? Weird, right?

Saying “thank you” — sincerely and with heart — feels good. Not just to the person receiving it, but also to the person offering it. And that’s part of work too. It’s hard to remember, as we process our hundredth email, that behind each message is a person..

Tim made a mistake by not appreciating John’s effort or acknowledging his sentiment. I don’t want to make that same mistake.

Peter Bregman  (HBR Blogger)

Communication Skills vrs Technology

Business leaders are typically great communicators and this is the number one quality they looked for in future leaders. They also recognise and value this precious skill in others.

A great communicator is someone who is comfortable talking to anyone, anywhere in the world. Someone who could make things happen across international borders and cultural barriers, someone who could walk into a room anywhere in the world and fix a problem, delight a customer, secure a partner, or close a deal.

Lack of communication skills or Inability to interact, articulate or persuade can have immediate and potentially consequences for any business. The combined effect over time can be an eventual loss of competitiveness and a negative effecton the bottom line. At the personal and career levels, smart and talented people lacking these skills will find the odds stacked against them. But when outstanding communication skills are married with brains and talent, the sky’s the limit for career oriented persons.

What this means is communication is the single most important business asset, absolutely essential to any company that hopes to grow and prosper.

But technology is rapidly dumbing us down. It’s quietly alienating us from one another and robbing us of our precious and unique gifts of face-to-face direct human interaction. Technology is robbing us of this precious skill of communication. Nowadays we email, we text, we tweet, we socialise online.

Many of us don’t read as much, nor socialize the way we used to, nor value speaking skills the way we once did.  All these are leading to the gradual loss of the art of conversation we once valued and cherished, and the steady erosion of our capacity to interact effectively at a very personal level. The more we rely on technology to do our talking for us, the more we can expect to see the costof that reliance in our business results and performance.

Excellence in business communications should be as routine as excellence in business performance. In successful corporations, communication is performance.

If you cannot communicate, then you cannot sell a product or service, command a room, run a meeting effectively, persuade investors, inspire employees, align team members, or compel key audiences. If you cannot communicate then it means that if you have a good idea, you might not be able to sell it. If you have a vision, no one will hear it. If you have a strategy, no one will follow it.

Unlike business people, politicians have long understood the value of leadership communications. In fact, word power is their entire stock and trade. Millions of people vote politicians who are able to  articulate their vision and  clearly define problems and solutions, simplify the complex, rationally debate any issue, This is not the kind of thing you can do with just text messages, e-mails, and tweets

Maybe business people should borrow from the experience of politicians. The question here is, can you walk into a room anywhere, anytime, and make things happen? Wonderful things unfold when people talk face-to-face in private offices, conference rooms, boardrooms, corridors, auditoriums.

It is time to capitalize on the huge added value that leadership communications brings to business proposition or transaction. We should not allow technology – the promise of this age, to rob us of this key skill.

Attitude is Everything

Your success or failure is not about how you dress how you look or even how you’re educated. It’s all about your Attitude! It’s true, most of us would prefer being around a positive person. It’s as true in our personal lives as it is in our business life.

You have heard Mac Anderson say, “Attitudes are contagious. Is yours worth catching?” How true it is. If you have co-workers and friends around you that gossip or complain often, it can bring you down and adversely affect your mood and productivity. In turn, if you are surrounded by upbeat people with a positive attitude, you can’t help but feel better and be more productive.

Positive people stay so upbeat. They brighten rooms just by walking in. No matter what trials may be going on in their lives, they give you the same hospitality you expect to receive while visiting them.  Everybody wants to be around them.

It’s no fun spending time with a person as chilly as an igloo. No! We enjoy warm, cheerful, upbeat folks who believe in us and remind us that tomorrow is ripe with possibility. Most of us want to be positive people. It’s advantageous to possess a sunny outlook.

Doors open to optimists. They make friends, earn respect, and others enjoy and want to be like them. They grin instead of grouch when facing challenge.

Never forget … Attitudes are contagious.

 Always ask … Is mine worth catching?

REMEMBER… ATTITITUDE IS EVERYTHING