Sunday, April 8, 2012

Is being just a bid better than others good enough?

A bid more than ten years ago, my boss, who was head of portfolio management division of a big Swiss bank, told me his finding for a successful career. “You only have to be a bid better than others". Hearing this statement I was consternated and I totally disagreed. By no means I wanted to advance in my career just being a bid better than others.
Looking back now, was my boss right? Yes he was. If one’s first priority is to have a nice career and achieve a good title and salary (nothing wrong with that), then he was right. What comes along with this approach though is that you need to know when you should not speak up, that you should not criticize the wrong people and not oppose too much.
…and he was wrong too
To me a title is not an achievement. Most of the time a title is eventually something that comes along, if you achieve great things and if you bring a lot of value to your company. It occasionally also comes along without great achievements though.
Back then I decided, that I always wanted to choose a job where I could be significantly better than others. As a consequence it so happened that I even quit jobs, because I got to the point where I felt, that in the current environment I could not perform at my best anymore, and I have become only average. Looking back now I certainly did not choose the easiest way.  I always have been looking out for challenges and yes challenges have been assigned to me, mostly sooner and bigger ones than I had expected. It has been extremely exciting and satisfying to deal with these challenges.  Above all it felt great, because I have been choosing positions where I could make the most of my knowledge and my experience and where I could perform at my best.  
All of the gentlemen on the top Mr. Thomas Borer, Konrad Hummler, Ossi Gruebel, Christoph Blocher and Philipp Hildebrand have been significantly above average. They have been leaders, who did not care too much for what is the best for a smooth career but did what they felt is right. To me, this is definitely worthwhile and being just a bid better than others is just not enough, can’t be enough.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Management of Project Stakeholders I/II

The following graph you can download HERE

A (cooperation)
These project stakeholders are very often members of the middle or top management. They are the most important stakeholders in the project. An active maintenance of relationship is required. Whenever possible this relation should be even deepened. Since these stakeholders time is limited the information you provide should be accurate according to the position and function. The invested effort for understanding personality and needs of these executives and to provide a brief and concise information should be high. On the other hand ensure that you are not too active in providing information. By sending these stakeholders every project report and putting them cc: on every mail you will risk that the loose track a bid and even worse loose interest.

B (satisfy) 
As the ones from group B these project stakeholders are are very often members of the middle or top management as well. They are almost as important as the group B stakeholders. Even though the seem not to be interested they might feel not having enough information. As a result the might complain and influence your project or other project stakeholders negatively at a certain point in time. Satisfying them will maybe not make them support your project more actively, but not satisfying these project stakeholders, they might disturb or slowdown your project eventually. You should invest a lot of effort in understanding them better and build up or improve the relation with them. Whenever possible you should try to move them to group A. Your activity in providing information should be limited. Being too active would be counterproductively. The information should be short and very accurate.

C (regular information) 
These project stakeholders are important because they will help you to market the project. Since you can use the common project information such as status reports, project presentation, even put them cc: on mails the additional effort will be limited. To these project stakeholders you should provide provide information in an active way.

D (no specific activity) 
Since these project stakeholders importance for the project is limited just furnish them with the key project information for instance with the kick off presentation, key project results, final project report.


Sunday, January 29, 2012

Leadership – The Ossi Gruebel Approach

Back then, when Ossi was the CEO of Credit Suisse Private Banking we (Relationship and Portfolio Management Units Zurich) were invited for a presentation held by Ossi Gruebel himself.

In the essence the wording of Ossi's speech was the following:
  1. “Markets went down continuously and there is no sign that there will be a strong recovery in the nearer future. Our clients lost money. Because of the weaker markets assets under management decreased and as a result Credit Suisse income of fees declined”
  2. “We need to ensure that our clients can make money also during this volatile market period. We will launch the following product in order to achieve this. As a result we will meet with the targeted cost income ratio.”
  3. “Please identify the clients who could be interested, contact them, and if interested offer them this product”
  4. “If you are not able to achieve the mentioned goal we have to take some actions on the cost side and you might need to plan your future a bid differently”

The majority of the audience was a bid shocked about Ossi Gruebel's statements, which is understandable. For myself I liked these straight forward and maybe even a bid brutal statements. Why?

  1. Ossi Gruebel showed a clear picture about the current situation and problems
  2. He proposed a solution. That means he gave his subordinates a chance to react. He did not present us with a fait accompli
  3. He made crystal clear what we were to do
  4. He pointed out what the consequences would be if we were not to proceed according to his proposal

I found Ossi's aproach and the clear message by far fairer than other leadership approaches I have been experiencing during my career. Of course this example taught me as well, that such a messages should be transmitted in a bid a smother way in order get optimal results.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Quotes and Advices from Top Leaders given during WEF Open Forum 26th January 2012

Responsible Leadership in Times of Crisis

In an era of rapid change and complex crises, leaders need to be able to make bold decisions quickly. Yet they often struggle to take the action needed to tackle economic, political and social issues, allowing their judgement to be clouded by short-term policies aimed at winning elections. 

The following speakers participated:
Ehud Barak, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence of Israel
Jean-Claude Biver, Chairman of the Board, Hublot, Switzerland
Gordon Brown, Member of Parliament, United Kingdom
Martin Burt, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Fundacion Paraguaya 

Brice Koch, Member of the Group Executive Committee, Executive Vice-President, ABB, Switzerland
Jean-Claude Trichet, President of the European Central Bank (2003-2011)

Quotes and Advices from Speakers above

Brown: Women leadership will be very important for needed changes within coming 15 years 

Barak: A leader needs to have deep intuition 

Biver: A leader who doesn't listen is a very dangerous leader

Biver: If you don't know what to do for too long your not a leader

Barak: No shortage of leaders with bad character in the past 

Barak: Leadership is more about character than about IQ

Barak: Leader is someone who can convince people

Burt: Find your element, thats where your passion is crossing with what you are good at

Koch: Good leader needs to be fast

Koch: Be transparent, be yourself, be a person that can be trusted 

Biver: Qualities for leadership needed, same for business leaders and politicians

Biver: In business to be a leader is easier, in politics its much harder 

Biver: Fully agrees with Brown, leader needs vision, then needs courage

Brown: Huge pressure on politicians to act short term, but long term view/action is needed

Brown: Leadership requires courage, thats what matters most

Trichet: Leadership, sense of direction is needed