Leadership Advice from a Senior Lenovo Executive

Blog author Stan Kimer on the phone with a client discussing his career mapping methodology proudly from his Lenovo Laptop

Blog author Stan Kimer on the phone with a client discussing his career mapping methodology proudly from his Lenovo Laptop

A few times per year, I like to deviate from my expertise areas of diversity and career development and write about various events I attend that provide me general insight and inspiration. I especially enjoy hearing from successful senior leaders about their principles and advice in reaching their lofty leadership pinnacles. I attended such an event sponsored by the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce, “C-Suite Perspectives” with Jay Parker, President of North America for Lenovo, on February 26th.

Before delving into his principles for successful leadership, Jay provided an overview of Lenovo (link.) He shared that though Lenovo is not yet a household name like Apple, it is one of the fastest growing companies in North America in the technology sector, and provides smartphones and tablets as well as its better known Lenovo PC line. He shared that his goal as the Lenovo North American senior leader was to change this market recognition. Then after confessing what areas he was weak in as a leader, he shared his own critical success factors which can apply to any leader.

“C-Suite Perspectives” speaker Jay Parker, President of North America for Lenovo

“C-Suite Perspectives” speaker Jay Parker, President of North America for Lenovo

Jay shared three main themes with several points under each one:

1) There is a difference between a great performer and a potential leader. Good leaders:
• Know how to deal with ambiguity. They focus on solving problems and providing clear direction to their team.
• Communicate clearly, simply, effectively
• Are able to take charge, especially during difficult challenges
• Show strategic acumen

2) Good leaders effectively manage their organizations. Good leaders:
• Drive accountability and do not tolerate finger-pointing, especially when things are going poorly
• Have measurements that are aligned with responsibility
• Give people the freedom to both succeed and fail
• Recruit and select the very best people for their organization without rationalizing doing otherwise

3) Good leaders know how to manage themselves. They:
• Listen to others, realizing they are not always the smartest one in the room
• They are honest and candid, even when it is uncomfortable
• They achieve balance in their lives
• They enjoy themselves while facing the challenges of leadership

I appreciate all these words of wisdom from this successful leader, and look forward to the Raleigh Chamber’s next “C-Suite Perspectives” session on April 23 with Greg Scheu, president and CEO of global energy sector company ABB Inc. (Link for event info)

If you are in the Raleigh / Durham / Chapel Hill area and would like more information on how you and your company can get involved with the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce (link), including membership benefits, contact Kim Niskey, (919)-360-8665, [email protected]

Fortunate is the NFL Team that Drafts Out Gay Football Standout Michael Sam!

In the middle of February, I published the blog “Football, Bullying and LGBT Diversity – The Good, The Bad and the Ugly” (link). On the bad side, I highlighted the continuing unfolding saga of the bullying incidents with the Miami Dolphins, which has expanded to multiple people and to racial prejudice. On the good side, I wrote of Michael Sam, the University of Missouri All-American Defensive end who came out publicly as an “openly, proud gay man.”

Michael Sam was perhaps the most interviewed future pro football player at the February 22 press conference prior to the "NFL Combine" (photo from thenation.com)

Michael Sam was perhaps the most interviewed future pro football player at the February 22 press conference prior to the “NFL Combine” (photo from thenation.com)

Since that blog, Michael Sam spoke at a press conference on February 22 prior to the NFL Combine where the NFL teams “try out” various college players prior to the NFL draft. Sam received accolades for his candid and dignified handling of reporters’ questions. (Link to USA Today Article and Interview excerpts).

Some articles in the sports press believe that Sam could have reduced his ranking among NFL teams prior to the draft (which will be held at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall May 8-10) by his announcement. I beg to differ! NFL teams need to “think outside the typical hetero-dominated box” and consider the advantages of drafting Sam. I say “Fortunate is the team that drafts Sam!”

I offer three reasons why drafting Sam would be a most fortuitous move for any NFL team: economics, community relations and team success. In addition to getting an extremely talented and hard-working football player, let me expand:

1. Economics. A creative NFL team should market to a whole new segment. The LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) market segment in the US has over $830B in disposable according to Bob Witeck (Witeck Communications – link), one of the nation’s leading LGBT Marketing Consultants. In addition to spending millions of dollars on theatre, opera and WNBA season tickets, this segment can be purchasing season football tickets! NFL teams, get creative and sell to this huge lucrative segment.

2. Community Relations. Having the first out gay active NFL player on the team can greatly enhance community outreach programs including anti-bullying campaigns. As NFL teams routinely visit children in hospitals and inner-city school programs, they can deliver the message that all children can pursue any area where they have passion and talent. Gay teens do not need to join the drama club if they have the talent and interest to play football or basketball instead.

3. Team Success. The football team that drafts Sam can leverage the lesson that many large American businesses have learned long ago; that valuing the diversity and unique attributes of each team member and providing an affirming environment where each person can contribute their very best leads to better results. I bet the team that drafts Sam will get an extra boost by welcoming the NFL’s first out gay player and will coalesce into an awesome performing team.

If anyone reading this knows any NFL team general manager or owners, please send it to them prior to the draft. And of course I would be honored to be hired as the LGBT marketing / community relations / team building consultant to help the fortunate team that drafts Sam to get the most of their excellent decision.