14. How has your leadership style changed as you have progressed in life?
Yes it has. When I was coming up in the Bell System during the ‘60s and ‘70s top-down leadership was the dominant style. That’s the way it was at every level. To get ahead, you just replicated what everyone wanted you to do—and which was the only way I had come to know. Once I turned about 50 and was running a fairly large business unit I had a lot of autonomy and resources. So I began to engage my organization and people much more—for example, 360 surveys and Meyers-Briggs to better understand ourselves and one another. I also became much more respectful of my people and more open as a person. My whole style of leadership really changed in my 50s—dramatically, in fact. I think I may have always inherently been this way, but we certainly weren’t rewarded for it. And I have been able to carry this changed leadership style forward to the present. When I work with good people I am at my best. And when I don’t I guess I’m not. Unfortunately, most people don’t understand how to nurture people and organizations. But when it happens, it is magical.
15. What is the one mistake you see leaders making more frequently than others?
Not engaging people in problem-solving and decision-making. Not making people feel valued. And also not communicating well, which leads to organizational paranoia. The worst boss I ever had spent all of his time ripping everyone. I came to conclude that despite his being smart as a whip, this was a defense mechanism hiding his personal insecurity. He knew everything, but he wouldn’t allow his organization to grow. I had another boss who would get to work at 4:00 am and had a reputation for knowing every detail of his organization. Everyone thought he was calling me and my peers at 5:00 am and ripping on us, but I never had that experience with him. He was like the Wizard of Oz, in that he created this impression that he was an ogre. Everyone thought he was ripping us a new one every day, so he must have thought it was important to have this facade.Download Article 1K Club