Category Archives: Leadership

Mining Your Company’s Talent

Mining Your Company’s Talent

by Douglas R. Conant in Harvard Business Review

Have you ever worked with someone who made your own job difficult? Someone who forced you to pick up the slack, or who had “personality issues”? Such people make you feel like you’re working two jobs — theirs and yours.

Such an experience makes you appreciate their rarer opposites — those who do their jobs really well. When you work with competent, caring people, you become more positive. The workplace isn’t a grind. It positively hums.

Getting the right people on the bus, to use Jim Collins’ phrase, is the single most important thing a manager can do. If you work for a large multinational organization, chances are that some of the right people are already on the bus. But how do you go about finding them? And once you do, how do you keep them?

I learned about the importance of talent-mining once again when I became CEO of Campbell Soup Company a decade ago. To help turn the company around, we needed exceptional leaders dedicated to delivering high performance and building a culture that could support the internal talent development. Over the first three years, we had to replace 300 of the top 350 leaders in the company. 150 were promoted from within, but we also needed to reach outside to find another 150 leaders capable of leading the change process. It was clear that we could not continue to attract so much talent from outside for long.

Attracting, developing and retaining talent is a multi-faceted, complex process. Here are a few things we’ve done to lift our own game.

Declare Yourself. Relatively early on, we very publicly made a commitment to each employee with our Campbell employee value proposition. This kind of declaration demonstrates a real commitment to talent development.

Organize to Execute. It’s critical to clearly signal your commitment to a quality talent-mining process. At Campbell, we have a very robust organization resource planning process that ensures our commitment to the development of each employee.

Clearly Define Expectations. Every leader needs to know what their own, and the company’s, “true north” is. Our six-point Campbell Leadership Model explicitly defines our leaders. This model is part of our performance evaluation process; our training and development programs strengthen skills in all six areas.

Break Bread. To make sure I’m touching all of the nooks and crannies of our talent base, I invite a mixture of people from administrative assistants to vice presidents to private CEO “Lunch and Discuss” sessions every six weeks or so. We meet under the Las Vegas Rule — what is said in the room, stays in the room. The discussions ultimately become quite candid. Over the years, I’ve met with hundreds of associates this way and it has enabled me to get further insights into how we can manage our talent more effectively.

Build Skills. To develop talent, you have to walk the talk. For example, I started an internal program called “The CEO Institute” that takes the next-generation leaders at Campbell through a two-year training course. With good support, I teach the course myself to 20 leaders per session. It’s demanding. I require reading, homework, 360° feedback and one-on-ones as well as attendance to five intense group off-sites. The program helps managers develop a leadership philosophy that is well-aligned with their personal objectives.

Wander Around. I take half an hour a day to literally wander around our offices and see our operation in action. If you do the same, you will eventually develop a “feeling” for your talent base that simply cannot be developed in your office. I also encourage leaders to “virtually” wander around their global operations via internal websites to get a better sense of the strong performers in other locations.

Douglas R. Conant is President and CEO of the Campbell Soup Company headquartered in Camden, New Jersey. He is the co-author, with Mette Norgaard, of Touchpoints: Creating Powerful Leadership Connections in the Smallest of Moments (Jossey-Bass, May 2011).

Comments Off on Mining Your Company’s Talent

Posted by on June 2, 2011 in Leadership


Excuses for not delegating

Duncan Brodie of Goals and Achievements helps accountants and health professionals to become highly effective leaders and managers. He invites you to take advantage of his free audio e-course Leadership Success at

He writes:

Ask managers what their biggest challenges are and the chances are delegation will appear as one of the things on their list. At the same time they also often come up with a whole host of excuses for not delegating. Here are my 4 favourites:

Excuse 1: I Don’t Have The Time

Now is this illogical or what? If you are drowning because you have too much to do, you need to get rid of some stuff. Sitting down and delegating something is a one time investment of time that pays back over and over again. It’s not that you don’t have the time; you do. It is the choice you make not to delegate that is the issue.

Excuse 2: They Won’t Do It As Well As Me

Maybe they won’t. At the same time could they do it to an acceptable level? If yes, what’s stopping you?

Excuse 3: They Might Do It Better Than Me

Perhaps they will and if they do it is conclusive proof that you should not be doing it in the first place. Ask yourself this; would the manager of a soccer team play their top goal scorer as goalkeeper? Of course they wouldn’t. Your job as a manager is to facilitate getting the best from everyone.

Excuse 4: They Might Let Me Down

They might or might not. Just because someone let you down in the past does not mean that it needs to be that way in the future. The key thing is to learn from the things that did not work out as you hoped.

The Bottom Line: Unless you are willing to delegate you will always be under pressure and struggle to deliver to your potential. So what choice will you make? Be the serial underperformer or be a highly successful manager?

Comments Off on Excuses for not delegating

Posted by on May 31, 2011 in Leadership



Foreseen: The Demise of the Maldives Tourism Industry

Today I sat at a table in a coffee shop with a man who was delighted with the success of their strike to “make things right” on a tourist resort in Maldives. Hce was delighted that they had won. He was delighted that the “culprit” lost and could not do a thing because of rights enshrined in the August Constitution of the Maldives and the new Labor Law.

After he left, I wondered to myself – what have we become? I have always believed that Allah has created enough of everything in such abundance that the wealth and the welfare of another cannot take away what is rightfully mine. That the other need not lose for me to win. Yet, there is so many amongst us who seem to believe that our happiness can only come from someone else’s misery, that our success can only be if others are to lose.

What is going on in the tourism industry today is to me a sign of this mentality that seem to have gripped our nation – which have been hailed as Paradise on Earth. The chaos and the fight to annihilate the other has come about for compelling reasons that would be spelled out in detail by each party to impress their case.

It was in July 2008 that the Maldives Association of the Tourism Industry (MATI) warned of a looming tourism decline.

The first high profile strike organized by TEAM was settled after intervention by the President’s Office. Since then we have seen strikes that have rocked the industry which is in a very fragile state. Maryam Omidi’s report on Minivan News says, there has been about ten strikes in the recent months according to Tourism Employee’s Association President Ahmed Easa. Some blame the Labor Law while others blame the attitude and treatment of local employees by their five-star rich employers.

Since then, the President has flown to Italy to woo tourists, and the Economic Development Minister has made an offical visit to Italy “create a suitable environment for investment.” He had “expessed surprise” [that] “discussions to seek investment had not occured in the past.” The Tourism Minister has just left for the Moscow International Tourism and Travel Fair (MITT) 2009. The government is “going all out” to attract tourists and to woo investors.

There seems to be an absence of a commitment or a will by the government, MATI or TEAM to put things right – to work out a timeline for creating the conditions required to enable the Labor Law through short-term, medium-term and long-term strategies that would sustain the “bread-basket” of the nation. When are we going to act as a nation – not as individuals looking for fame, not as lobbyists for self-interest groups, not as political parties; who wish to “win” by the “sheer loss” of those who are against them; so that we may survive the world economic crisis?

This arrogance and attitude of mind (for “them” to lose so that we can “win” in absolute terms)can only scare the employers (of local employees) and create a lack of investor confidence in Maldives investment climate. How on earth would tourists come to holiday in a “dead” paradise that is socially irresponsible as a corporate citizen, recklessness in its psyche, and can boast only of mayhem on its streets? How hospitable can we be?

President Nasheed (Anni) embarked on his Presidency on a promising note, with a commitment to fulfill his party’s election promises. His biggest challenge seems to be to provide sound economic, political and fiscal conditions that would enable the realization of those dreams and his party manifesto on which he believes he was elected to Office.

How important is it for “us” to win and them to “lose”? Are we prepared to sacrifice this nation for us to win!


Posted by on March 20, 2009 in Leadership, My Concerns, Nation Building


Breaking News: Police Officer Hospitalized

According to a police media report, a police officer has been hospitalized in ADK Hospital in Male’ after being attacked by gangsters and was found “thrown into a lane” around Alikilegefaanu Magu. The report says that the officer’s face has been severely beaten. The Police Officer was in plainclothes according to the report.

The local print and online media who were “reporting 24/7 round the clock” are silent on the matter at this moment in time.

Rumors say that the people who attacked the police officer are known to authorities and will be apprehended shortly. It is hard to believe that anything will come of it. There is little hope that anything meaningful can be done to maintain law and order in this country, while the current August Constitution and unfinished business related to establishing the legal and judicial infrastructure remain as is.

And Ibra writes to the President on his blog, in a post published 4 hours from the attack – which I thought was related. He writes:

[…] The entire nation has to be mobilized if we are to get out of this hell hole. You can see the reaction of the Mob in relation to efforts by the police to establish the authority of the law. They will come after the Police, the Cabinet, the MPs and any other who will stand in their way. Only the unifying of the Public, across political divisions can combat this evil.

That brings me to the point of this letter, Mr.President. It is only you who can unify the nation on this one. It is your Constitutional duty to do that. The Constitution spells out in black and white that it is your Constitutional duty and obligation to promote unity among the people. You can’t do that by ignoring the majority of the people in this country and just acknowledging people of a certain political membership. You will be deepening the divisions even further.

Mr. President. You are the PRESIDENT of this country, elected by UNIVERSAL SUFFRAGE. You are not the PRIME MINISTER appointed by a majority party in the Majlis. The Maldivian Constitution does not provide for a Prime Minister yet, Mr. President. I remind you, lest you forget.

Read the full post here


Chaiperson Anni vs. President Nasheed

I read in Miadhu News Online today that President Nasheed has called upon the Attorney General not to send an attorney to the Supreme Court to defend the government in the case against the state for the Parliament Decision to take recess before enacting the electoral laws required by the Constitution.

The recess of the Parliament was voted for by Presidential Appointees as well as MPs who belong to the President’s (former) party. The president has vehemently called for the Parliament to enact electoral laws before taking recess. His (former) party had no respect for the President’s wishes nor did the MPs appointed to represent him. The opposition parties in and outside the parliament has accused the President and parties of the coalition that got him the Presidency, of covert tactics to delay parliamentary elections.

The publication of details of the President’s letter to the AG comes a day after the contents of the letter from the Advisor to President Nasheed and former AG Hassan Saeed was published in the media. The Advisor had asked the President to get his Appointed Members and Party and Coalition Members to initiate a petition to the Speaker for a recall of the recess.

President Nasheed now seems to have come to the edge of his honeymoon with the Presidency. I think that this is a sign of his transformation from Party Leader to Head of State and the Government.


Posted by on January 6, 2009 in Leadership


What next for Gayoom… (contd.)

The first person said that he would go to any extent to find him anywhere he came out into the public and to shout and remind him of the atrocities he has committed against the people of the Maldives. He said that even if President Anni has pardoned Gayoom, those who have suffered immensely under the dictatorial regime of Maumoon for 30 years cannot do the same. For him, it was important that Maumoon taste the hurt and pain of the people who suffered under his regime.

The second person said that Maumoon should leave the country and let the people taste paradise and its wonders without him. He said that the sight of Maumoon cannot be pleasing to any Maldivian today.

The third person was of the opinion that Maumoon is a statesman who has earned the respect of the international community. He said that Maumoon should build on this and contribute to national development though a foundation for the alleviation of poverty and national development. According to him, Maumoon Foundation could source international funding and assistance to develop designated areas and people issues.

I could not help wondering how different we could be in our outlook and attitude to the future. We want the same thing, yet in so different ways!


What Next for President Gayoom?

President Gayoom conceded defeat and moved out of his multi-million dollar palace handing over the responsibility of government to President Nasheed – more popularly known as President Anni. Gayoom now lives in a much smaller house – yet a luxury residence by local standards. Alivaage (the private residence of President Gayoom) belongs to his brother-in-law and former cabinet minister Ilyas Ibrahim.

In the wake of the change of power of government from President Gayoom’s thirty year rule to a more liberal and democratic form of government under President Nasheed, there is widespread speculation on the future of Maumoon and his legacy.

I had the opportunity to sit in separate conversations with three people – a resort operator, an activist, a young entrepreuner. The following are what they had in mind.

what they had to say… coming soon!


Posted by on November 12, 2008 in Leadership, Presidential Election 2008


President Nasheed takes Oath of Office

President Mohamed Nasheed (Anni) took Oath of Office of the President of Maldives around ten thirty this morning. He starts his first day of office with a renewed commitment to deliver on his five campaign promises and a promise to deliver good governance to the people.

Anni walks into office with several challenges. The first, to me, is the fact that he has decided to form a coalition government despite a candidacy that represents MDP and GIP. The new president has his hands tied by those who have demanded a portion of government in return for their support to him in the second round of presidential elections. I would have thought that in an executive presidency the government would consist of those who are from the president’s party.

There is confidence in the air that there will be change – good change. I wish the new president success in his commitment to serve the people to realize their aspirations.


Posted by on November 11, 2008 in Leadership, Presidential Election 2008


And the Winner is…

The second round of the presidential elections is over and so is its anticlimax finale. It will take a week for the elections commission to announce the obvious though the head of the current regime (as we like to call it) has conceded defeat to the leader of the opposition who won the elections with a clear majority.

Amidst the calm and the quiet that followed the announcement of the election results, the most fascinating thing that struck me was that I had a valid reason to be proud to be a Maldivian. [I have always argued against this slogan by President Maumoon, for reason I have explained in earlier blogposts here.]

The peace and the tranquility that is our heritage was at play on that day and it was enhanced by the true colors of the winners of the day. The true colors of Anni and Maumoon shocked the world in disbelief. Their collective wisdom and character in unprecedented for the history of bitterness they shared.

I was most impressed by how Maumoon, being an uncontestable leader for thirty years, conceded defeat and publicly gave his support for a peaceful transfer of power to the president-elect; as well as his simple response (“the problem of 30 years”) for why he lost the elections.

Anni’s call to the people to show humility in winning and to have strength in loosing, is examplary of an activist-turned-head-of-state. He also brought a new paradigm to the tranfer process and beyond, when he said that past rulers are an important institution of the nation.

I salute both men for their love of this nation. Now is Anni’s turn to lead the people, uninterrupted by friends and family. It will be for the future historians to determine who is the champion of our liberal democracy!

Anni and Maumoon won the game! Will the People?

Listen to Anni’s first statement to the media here.


Maldives too busy to take note of Financial Crisis 2008

IMF Reports that:

The world is going through the most dangerous financial crisis since the 1930s.

Coordinated global action is starting to reverse the tide of the financial crisis, but governments also need to “deploy all instruments” to limit damage to the real economy, IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn told world financial leaders meeting in Washington.

IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn also said that developing countries, “face reduced export demand and reduced access to trade credit.”

Read more here

The Maldives with the highest per capita income in the region, and highly vulnerable by the impact on its “export demand” through tourism and fisheries, and almost negligible trade credit, does not seem to be able to take note of the approaching “tsunami” – if you will.

What are we doing about it? How do we bring this to the attention of the nation’s leaders, who just appointed a Governor to the MMA who does not have any fiscal or monetary policy experience?


Posted by on October 17, 2008 in Economy, Leadership, Majlis, Neevey Adu Kon Adu

%d bloggers like this: