Interview Transcript

Moving on to look more fundamentally at leadership, Mike, what does leadership mean to you?

What leadership means to me is setting direction and working with folks to buy into that direction and then from there, giving them the tools they need to be able to execute. The other piece of that is making sure that your leaders are communicating with each other. Facilitating cross communication because they won’t do that on their own. I think it’s interesting, I once had feedback probably ten years ago that I wasn’t being strong enough in my direction from one of the people that were reporting to me. I said, what do you mean? She said, “You need to tell us what to do versus being participatory and so on.” I really took that to heart. People want to be guided; they want to know what to do. I think as a leader, you have to have the confidence to be able to do that.

It’s this paradox where people want to be guided but guided in a specific way.

I think that’s true. You spend time with your people, you develop a strategy and you work on it, you work on the tactics, then at some point, you all high five and go, here’s where we’re going. Leadership is making sure you get to that last step and people are knowing where they’re going, and they’re emotionally involved, and they feel like they should do that.

How do you gain follow-ship from employees or your direct reports as a leader?

I think it’s a balance. Again, they want to see leadership. You can’t be everybody’s friend. At the same time, people want you to give them guidance and feel comfortable in their skin about talking to you about issues they have or about things they need to do. I think it’s a delicate balance between those two things. I think that people want to be led. I really believe that. At every level. When I was president of international, I wanted the CEO to lead me. When I was the CEO, I wanted some feedback from the board. People want to be led. I think it’s a matter of being led versus being told how to dot the Is and cross the Ts.

How do you think about that difference between being led and being told, if I can put it that way?

If you’re being told and if you’re a trooper, which at some point in your career, you better be, you’re going to be a trooper and you’re going to do what they say. Your heart won’t be in it. We’ve all had to say things publicly or do things that we really didn’t agree with. Frankly, there’s nothing worse. At the same time, being led is where your boss says, “We need to look at doing this with Spain, let me know what you think.” That’s way different than being told, we need to close Spain. I think there’s a big difference between the two.

Sign up to test our content quality with a free sample of 50+ interviews