A “Fireside Chat” with a Fortune 500 CEO – the Value of Organizational Development

On Monday, Nov 12, 2012, I attended a unique first-time event sponsored by the Triangle Organizational Development Network (TODN – link). The event was limited to a small number of participants to allow for more intimate discussion and interaction over a nice dinner in a restaurant private dining room. The event was billed as a “fireside chat” and titled “OD Value Proposition from the CEO Perspective.”

Rick Anicetti

The featured speaker (actually it was more of an informal interactive chat) was Rick Anicetti, a former “Fortune 500” CEO is now Founder and President of From One to Many Leadership Consulting LLC (an affiliate of Vistage International.) Prior to his latest venture, Rick was CEO of Delhaize America, which is the parent company for the well-known leading grocery chain Food Lion.

As one of relatively few CEOs who actually spent time in a Human Resources position, Rick offered us some excellent and profound insights into leadership. Rick was specifically asked to address how he as a CEO views the value of the Organizational Development practitioner. Some of the nuggets of wisdom I took away included:

• In today’s market, it is often difficult to differentiate between competitors. They can all get the same products, systems and processes. So therefore the one differentiator can be an organization’s people, and their ability to get it done better and faster.

• A company’s human resources (or people) are the most important investment of the company, but also its most expensive and fragile resource.

• Since most CEO’s do not have HR or Organizational Development experience, we in HR need to “ease into things” pertaining to HR and OD instead of blasting in with everything all at once. I liked Rick’s colorful analogy of “not leading the CEO out onto the skinny boards too quickly.”

• It is important for HR and OD practitioners to really know the core business and to look for strategic ways to make an impact on the business

• A simple way to look at leading others: share all you can, share where you are going, why we are going there, and each individual’s role in it.

It is a special opportunity to spend quality time in a small group setting with a senior business leader of Rick’s stature. I thank Bob Stapleton and the TODN leadership team for setting up this wonderful opportunity. And I encourage all TODN members and friends to take advantage of future “Fireside Chats.”

Career and Leadership Inspiration from a Local Business Executive

Here in the Raleigh – Durham – Chapel Hill area of Raleigh, the Triangle Business Journal sponsors a quarterly breakfast meeting called the “Power Breakfast” where business executives from across our region gather to network and hear from powerful area business leaders.

Machelle Sanders, VP of Manufacturing & GM for RTP Campus of Biogen Idec

Friday November 2 we were inspired by Machelle Sanders, an African-American woman from a small town in Eastern North Carolina who has risen to become the VP of Manufacturing and General Manager for the over 1000 person campus of pharmaceutical industry leader Biogen Idec. Before sharing her 12 “enablers for success,” she shared briefly about herself as a servant – leader, risk taker and hard worker.

Machelle Sander’s twelve enablers for success:

1. Follow your passion. For Machelle, her passion is serving and helping others, for which a senior leadership role is an ideal platform.

2. Be able to relate to anyone. This is particular helpful in resolving and mitigating disputes.

3. Seek opportunities with different levels of responsibility. Take educated calculated risks in leaving your comfort zone. Machelle did this in leaving a long time career into quality assurance to take on manufacturing leadership.

4. Take ownership of both your accomplishment and mistakes.

5. Learn to thrive in uncertainty. Today, constant change is the norm.

6. Don’t be afraid to promote and brand yourself. Focus on your strengths.

7. Leadership is key … and it comes in many forms. It does not only mean directly managing others. Building trust is the cornerstone for establishing yourself as a leader.

8. Be watchful for fear of failure. Do not let failure derail you or hold you back.

9. Inspire others. (And Machelle, you did that superbly in this session!)

10. Rewards those who excel. This helps motivate them. And rewards are not just financial.

11. Maintain your authenticity.

12. Be self-aware of your own blind spots.

If you are in the area, consider coming to this quarterly series. And for anyone who wants to provide an innovate career development framework for your organization, please contact me to discuss my career road mapping services.