Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Want to Lead? Ask Tennyson and Shakespeare
Published NYT: September 3, 2011

Some important reflections for leaders in training

This interview with Enrique Salem, president and C.E.O. of Symantec, the computer security company, was conducted and condensed by Adam Bryant.

Key lessons from the interview:
… “Check your ego and your title at the door.” I learned that very early on. One of the things that my first manager said to me was: “Look, a lot of times you don’t lead by your position. You lead by how you influence other people’s thinking.” And so I absolutely believe that if it’s about you, you’re not going to do a great job. It can’t be about your success. It has to be about what you are trying to accomplish. So that’s No. 1. No. 2 came from Tennyson, his poem “Ulysses.” If you read the poem, there’s one little phrase that says, “I am a part of all that I have met.” I absolutely believe you learn from everybody you interact with.
Another one is from Colin Powell: “Positive attitude is a force multiplier.” I think that you’ve got to stay positive about things because when you go the other way, it’s de-motivating to everybody around you and you’re unlikely to be successful……….There’s a verse from William Shakespeare’s “Measure for Measure,” which is, “Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.” I have this presentation that I give to our advanced leadership class, and the title is, “Lessons I’ve Learned Along the Way.” One of the slides has that quote, because if you think about that quote, it really is how I want our company to be. You’ve got to take some chances. You’ve got to take some risks, and sometimes things don’t work out, but you’ve got to go for it….….One time the coach called a defensive play and I changed it, and after having some success with that I said, “Oh, this isn’t so hard.” But then another player runs on the field and replaces me, and I run to the bench and the coach says, “When you want to call what I’m calling, you can go back in the game.” So I sat on the bench for a play or two and then went over and said: “O.K., Coach. I got it. I’m sorry.” And he put me back in the game. I really learned this notion that whoever’s making the calls, you’ve got to listen to that person.
And he pulled me aside after the game and we talked about it, and he said: “I know you love the game. I know you study the game. But you’ve got to realize that when I make calls, I’m setting something up. I’m looking at something that’s happening, and you can’t be out there second-guessing me on this.” I still remember that story. In business, somebody has to make the call. I learned that pretty early on.

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