Developing-Leaders-issue - 23- Spring - 2016

Executive Development 48 | Developing Leaders Issue 23: 2016 Rather than directly opposing or disagreeing with her managers, Barra channeled everyone’s energy by empowering them to make some fairly obvious decisions for themselves. In the same interview, she added, “I want them to take ownership of the rules and say ‘You’re accountable to lead your team’.” That’s leadership jiu-jitsu at work. Leadership Lesson #1: Keep it honest and keep it simple. Even before she was appointed CEO, Barra had a tendency to be remarkably candid and honest with GM staff. As head of Product Development, her main directive to engineers and designers was simple: “No more crappy cars.” She elaborated on this idea in an interview with Fortune magazine, explaining that there were “ sometimes so many boundaries put on them [employees] that we didn’t give them a recipe for success. So now we’re saying no excuses. If it’s budget, if it’s resources, we have to do great cars, trucks and crossovers and it’s our job to enable you to do that.” In return for her candor, Barra appears to expect some frankness in return. She wants GM employees to speak up when something’s wrong and to confront problems directly. To aid in that effort, she is leveraging social media. She blogs monthly on Linked In’s Pulse, tweets regularly and posts to Facebook. Reflect on your leadership... Is your communication clear, honest and unequivocal? Are you using all available tools to convey, support and promote your leadership messages? Consider making your Twitter or Instagram account a place where your employees can connect with your thinking. Your associates want to know about you, how you approach a problem, what is important to you. They talk and speculate about you anyway. Like Barra, tell them who you are and what you are thinking. Leadership Lesson #2 Make it about the company and the customer