Seven Insights on Leadership, Success and Diversity from Duke Energy CEO Lynn Good

Photo of Lynn Good when she was announced by Duke Energy as their new CEO and President in June, 2013

Photo of Lynn Good when she was announced by Duke Energy as their new CEO and President in June, 2013

As often as I can, I try to attend the Triangle (NC) Business Journal’s quarterly “Power Breakfasts” where area business leaders are invited to hear from key large corporate executives (see links at the bottom of this blog to a past blog about another TBJ Power Breakfast, and to two TBJ articles about Duke Energy.)

Yes, Duke Energy can be considered quite controversial with their sudden turnover in leadership after the Duke Energy – Progress Energy merger and with the 2014 Dan River coal ash spill. And some of these subjects were broached at this breakfast, but I often more listen for leadership and diversity topics from these speakers since those are my consulting areas.

As a diversity consultant, I do appreciate hearing from a female senior corporate leader, especially one like Lynn Good, who was ranked by Fortune Magazine as the 13th most powerful woman in business.

Here are the 7 insights I noted that Lynn shared around leadership and diversity at this March 1, 2016 breakfast:

1. As a senior leader of 28,000 people, Lynn feels it is very important to develop a culture of collaboration and inspiring others.

2. It is critical for people to hear the corporate vision and messages and understand that their role is important in the larger picture.

3. Diversity is indeed important – the strongest solution is reached when multiple views are brought to the table.

4. The three foundations of Duke Energy’s culture are safety, integrity and service.

5. Lynn Good herself is an excellent role model for success and work-life balance. When asked about what most satisfies her in life, she responded “I love what I do (at work) but am truly satisfied at home with a family and 2 college age sons.”

6. Diversity is important to Duke Energy since they want to have a workforce that reflects the markets they serve.

7. Their innovative diversity efforts include their “Aging in Place” initiative where more senior employees are paired with junior employees to foster knowledge transfer.

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As mentioned at the top of this blog, here are links to my past blog about an earlier TBJ Power Breakfast I wrote about, and to two TBJ articles published soon after the breakfast meeting:

Link to past blog on an earlier TBJ Power Breakfast I attended: “Career and Leadership Inspiration from a Local Business Executive” with former Biogen RTP Site Executive Machelle Sanders.

The TBJ’s more in depth article about all items Lynn Good discussed at this power breakfast.

A second article from the TBJ about Duke Energy restructuring and impact on the RTP, NC area workforce.

Top Strategic Human Resource Initiatives for the 21st Century – A Discussion with Sheila Forte-Trammell

Sheila Forte-Trammell, Total HR Services, LLC

Sheila Forte-Trammell, Total HR Services, LLC

During my 31-year career at IBM, one of the most remarkable and insightful Human Resources leaders I worked with was Sheila Forte-Trammell. After over 30 years herself in IBM in a diverse range of HR leadership roles in recruiting, placement, compensation, diversity, learning and employee development, she has now retired and consults as the owner of Total HR Services, LLC.

Recently I had a discussion with Sheila about the most key strategic areas in the future for human resources professionals. In this blog I share Sheila’s insights and in part 2 Sheila and I will discuss more of her accomplishments and current projects.

STAN: Sheila, as a globally recognized expert on a broad range of human resources topics, what would you say must be the key focus for HR leaders from today on into the future?
SHEILA: The 21st Century has presented a variety of new challenges and business complexities that HR Leaders are grappling with. Because organizations are functioning in a competitive knowledge economy, it makes it important for leaders to create processes for employees to acquire the right business skills in a timely manner. Speed to competence, learning agility, innovative application of knowledge and the easy distribution of relevant information throughout the organization have become critical in maintaining competitiveness.

STAN: How does leadership development and succession planning fit in with this complex business environment?
SHEILA: Now more than ever, the development of the leadership pipeline has taken center stage. No longer should HR leaders restrict the use of succession planning as a means to identify the next generation of executive leaders. The succession planning process must be expanded to include the identification of critical technical and key functional skills at all levels of the organization. This approach ensures there is an adequate pool of employees who have these capabilities to execute on the tactical and strategic plans.

STAN: Sheila, can you talk a little more about this expansion of succession planning to a broader set of employees. Why is this so important?
SHEILA: Many organizations are “lowering the center of gravity” whereby, allowing business decisions to be made at lower levels within the organization. Thus, the new normal is to create a high trust culture where knowledge transfer is occurring. In addition, employees must be encouraged to take bold but intelligent actions which deliver measurable results. Empowering employees in this manner helps them to feel a sense of value.

STAN: What is the role of HR leaders in fostering this broader employee and leadership development environment?
SHEILA: When employees feel that they are valued, engagement and retention tend to be high. Given the dynamic and disruptive nature of business today, HR leaders have to communicate business vision with better clarity and help employees develop greater flexibility and adaptability to perform in an ever changing environment. HR leaders are expected to help employees to develop the skills to show resilience and resolve in the face of challenge. This way, instead of retreating they are able to see the business opportunities that reside within disruption, challenge and crisis.

STAN: Thank you, Sheila. In Part 2, I look forward to discussing your accomplishments, books and current projects.

ADDED LATER: Now here is the link to read part 2!

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Sheila Forte-Trammell is now the owner of Total HR Services, LLC. Her professional information is available via LinkedIn (Link to Sheila’s Profile.)