Little known true leader that changed the company into great performance

Darwin E Smith, ex CEO Kimberly-ClarxDo you know Darwin E. Smith? I bet you know people like Jack Welch or Lee Iacocca. But who is Darwin E. Smith?

When he was appointed ceo of Kimberly-Clark in 1971, he just was the companies lawyer. Shy, never in a leading position but willing to work. He was even pullee aside by one of the directors, saying that he really lacked some of the qualifications to become CEO. Nevertheless he was appointed and he stayed CEO for more then 20 years.

At that time, kimberly-Clark was really struggling in the paper products market with harsh competition like Scott Paper and Procter & Gamble. Darwin turned the company outperforming companies like Hewlett-Packard, 3M, Coca-Cola and GE. The generated stock returns were 4.0 times greater than these companies in these 20 years.

How did Darwin lead?

He lead the company with a level 5 leadership. Level 5 leadership is a concept by Jim Collins and I will explain it briefly hereunder.

Level 5: Executive. The leader builds greatness to the combination of personal humility and professional will. Once when a journalist asked for his style of leadership he just stared back at the scribe from the other side of his thick black-rimmed glasses. He was dressed unfashionably and finally he said, “eccentric.”

How do you manifest humility? You credit others, external factors and good luck for the companies’ success. you act quietly, calmly and determinedly-relying on inspired standards to motivate.

Level 4 :Effective leader: He catalyses commitment to and vigorous pursuit of a clear and compelling vision; stimulates the group to high performance standards.

Level 3:Competent manager. He organizes people and resources toward the effective and efficient pursuit of predetermined objectives.

Level 2:Contributing team member. Contributes to the achievement of the group objectives, works effectively with others in group setting.

Level 1:Highly capable individual. Makes productive contributions through talent, knowledge, skills, and good work habits.

Now rate yourself on a scale from 0-10 for each of the levels! Be brutally honest with yourself and you can see where you are compared to Mr. Smith!

How many of your employees are inspired by your leadership?(infographic)

The Leadership Disconnect
So, did you already did this research in you organisation?
What if your leadership is as bad/as good as the others?
Do you wonder how you can improve your leadership?
For me leadership is “being able to develop a vision, implement it and sustain to it ” .
Now ask yourself  the following questions to see how you are leading:

  1. Do you have a vision?
  2. Are you a role model?
  3. Can you inspire this vision
  4. Can you challenge the process that helps to implement it?
  5. Do you enable others to act?
  6. Do you encourage the heart by gratitude?

Have your energy on all 6 elements and your leadership improves drastically!

The 3 most hidden secrets on how top companies attract and retain top talents.

According to a recent Monster study on employee loyalty, 82% of surveyed employees have updated their resume in the past six months. Moreover, a whopping 59% say they are looking for a job “all the time up to 50 % reports indifference or dissatisfaction on their current job.

These are all alarming facts to consider and should get the attention of managers on what people are busy with.

How do top companies like Google or Apple play that game?

First of all it is only fair to say that attracting people for these giants is a piece of cake. They really soak people to them, so they can easily take out the top talents out of it. To give you an idea, according to Bloomberg, in February 2011 Google got 75.000 applications for only 6.000 openings! That is a more than 1:10 ratio.

Now, holding them on board is a totally other game and if you can’t do it properly the costs of letting someone go and replacing him/her could cost you 250% of the year salary due to losing knowledge, inefficiencies at work, recruitment costs etc…

Usually, people speak about bonuses or perks in general. You can easily find the list of the top 100 companies forwho score best for each of them on

But that is not what I would like to tell you about. Recent studies have unveiled that more and more people are not in for only money or perks as they used to be up till now. They need other things to stay.

Daniel Pink, one of my favourite authors writes in his book ” Drive : the surprising truth about what motivates us” that there are 3 elements to take into account when you want to get employee loyalty and identification with your company.

  1. Autonomy: People want to decide for themselves how, what, with whom and where they want to work. It is astonishing to see students succeeding on campus in their own way. They decide when to go to class, they decide whether or not they go to some social event and how frequently they do it and they decide when to learn for exams or other projects. When they graduate, suddenly they are forced into a clockwise scheme of companies that says to them when to arrive, where to work, with who and so on. This really frightens them and it isn’t fruitful after all. Studies already showed that this isn’t helpfull to foster creativity nor does it generate employee loyalty. Best Buy got the idea for its headquarters and started a program called R.O.W.E, Results-Only-Work-Environment. People get to choose for themselves where they work, when they work, with who etc. this enabled the company to raise productivity at the headquarters with 25 %. Employee turnover crashed to an all time low for the company. People are very reluctant to leave the company because they know this “employee-driven” environment is so unique.
  2. Purpose: Connection with a greater good. In general people want to know where they do it for. People are purpose seekers, so you should enable people to connect to a greater good that reunites them. Therefore having leadership trainings, mission statement trainings etc…are of the greatest importance for companies and it will get even more important in the future, considering that generation X, who is entering the employee market, is really demanding this.
  3. Mastery:People want to experience that they grow. Never forget that when you are good in something, that in general you really adore what you are doing then. Loving what you do and getting better at it go hand in hand. Coached practice gets perfect! People in general know more and more that being busy is not enough. You should be busy with the right things and you should get the opportunity to grow. This element requires coaching or mentoring, traineeships etc…

Therefore, companies should focus on these 3 elements to retain there people. Strategies to empower autonomy, purpose and mastery are attainable for big and small companies. Perhaps that is the best news for all those Small and Medium companies amongst us.

So, what is the next big thing you are going to do to retain your employees?



Motivation is more than mere money – Mervyn King (Governor of Bank of England)

The governor of the Bank of England has urged those in the scandal-hit finance sector to learn lessons from Britain’s Olympians.

Sir Mervyn King said the sportsmanship and work ethic displayed by the stars of the London Games needed to be embraced by those plying their trade in the City.

His comments come in the wake of the Libor scandal that has seen Barclays hit with a £290m fine for manipulating the key benchmark borrowing rate. At least 15 institutions, including Royal Bank of Scotland, are also being investigated over the controversy.

“For many years, our financial sector sustained the illusion that it was possible to become a millionaire overnight by buying and selling pieces of paper,” King wrote in the Mail on Sunday.

“But we have seen how paper fortunes in financial markets can disappear overnight. Things need to change.”

He added: “As recent scandals have shown, banks could learn a thing or two about fair play from the Olympic movement.”

King said the British economy could learn a number of key lessons from the Games.

“First, and most important, we have been reminded that an objective that is worth attaining, like a gold medal, requires years of hard work. Success does not come overnight,” he said.

“That is as true of our economy as it is of sport. It means reforming our banking system so that banks focus less on making money in the short term, and more on building businesses to serve their customers’ interests over the longer term.”

The Bank of England boss also said bankers should focus less on money and more on their customers.

“The financial sector has done us all a disservice in promoting the belief that massive financial compensation is necessary to motivate individuals,” he added.

“Look at the success of the volunteers whose presence at the Olympic Park and around London did so much to create the atmosphere of happiness that pervaded the Games, and who represented all of us so well when greeting and helping the many visitors from overseas.

“Motivation is more than mere money. Bankers should concentrate on laying a solid foundation for customers, not focusing on making quick cash.”

Press Association, Sunday 12 August 2012 15.58 BST

I think Daniel Pink, author of the best selling book ” Drive”,  would be very happy with this topic.
Motivation is indeed very much more than money.
The science about whether money is motivating or not is very clear. Please see this video on youtube.

The findings of scientists of MIT:

As long as the task only involves mechanical skills, monetary awards are useful. The higher the pay the better the performance.

Once a task asks for even RUDIMENTARY COGNITIVE SKILLS, a larger reward leads to a poorer performance.

This study and many others have been done over and over again in several institutes and universities and they all got the same results. So, I wonder, did Sir King read this study fianlly. Is he going to do something with it?



13 Guidelines of the Stunning Results-Only Work environment and leadership

ImageI just read the book “Why work sucks“by Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson.

(Ressler, Cali; Thompson, Jody (2008-05-29). Why Work Sucks and How to Fix It: The Results-Only Revolution (Kindle Locations 1325-1330). Penguin Group. Kindle Edition.)

They talk about the Results Only Work Environment, which gives the management of time back to the employee, resulting in a win-win for employer and employee. 
The idea is that people just decide for themselves how and when they work. The only measurement for management are the results. As long as the results are ok, then nothing is forbidden.
This, obviously asks for leadership for each of the employees. Everyone needs exactly to know what is expected.

Implementing this ROWE way of management, has a lot of challenges for both employees and managers. Are people going to work enough?
Are they focussed enough to do their work?
Do people really decide what is necessary and what not?

Experience with the ROWE principle in organizing at Best Buy, shows that (amazingly?) people can be trusted. The big break-through for the ROWE principle is that the calendar focus of time is lost and that all the focus goes to the results. 
People do show their capabilities and contributions by doing their job in stead of arriving early and stopping late.

the 13 guidelines for the ROWE principle are:

  1. People at all levels stop doing any activity that is a waste of their time, the customer’s time, or the company’s time.
  2. Employees have the freedom to work any way they want.
  3. Every day feels like Saturday.
  4. People have an unlimited amount of “paid time off ” as long as the work gets done.
  5. Work isn’t a place you go—it’s something you do.
  6. Arriving at the workplace at 2:00 PM is not considered coming in late. Leaving the workplace at 2:00 PM is not considered leaving early.
  7. Nobody talks about how many hours they work.
  8. Every meeting is optional.


  9. It’s okay to grocery shop on a Wednesday morning, catch a movie on a Tuesday afternoon, or take a nap on a Thursday afternoon.
  10. There are no work schedules.
  11. Nobody feels guilty, overworked, or stressed-out.
  12. There aren’t any last-minute fire drills.
  13. There is no judgment about how you spend your time

So please go through each of them as an employee or a manager, and think about how you think about these guidelines. Not all of them are easy to implement.
I had a lot of trouble with number 8, “every meeting is optional” . What if you really needed someone during the meeting? What if someone just decides not to come.

The moment I was thinking that I challenged my beliefs about meetings:

  • do I always invite the NECESSARY people to my meetings?
  • do I always attend meetings where I am totally present?
  • is someone who is commited to his/her job going to decide not to come when it is necessary/useful for the job?
  • are meetings always planned when needed or are meetings sometimes just held because they are planned
  • etc…

So I just let go the resistance and it immediately triggered the thought :” should people be trusted?”
I think this is the most important question we can ask when we would like to implement “ROWE”. Trusted that they will reserve their best performance for the job.
Ofcourse sometimes people choose jobs they hate, just to work for some money, but then again ROWE provides them the necessary flexibility to add joy and gratitude to their job.

What do you think of the 13 guidelines and do you think these could be implemented in your onrganisation?