In a new book on leadership, author Jack Stahl offers up his framework for being an effective leader. Mr. Stahl began his career at Arthur Andersen. In 1979, he joined The Coco-Cola Company, eventually becoming at age thirty-six, the company’s chief financial officer. Then, after successfully leading the company’s businesses in North America and Latin America, he served as president of The Coca-Cola Company, before leaving in 2001. Stahl became president and CEO of Revlon in 2002 and led the company through a five-year period during which its market share, profitability, and balance sheet were strengthened. He left Revlon in 2006. I wanted to find out how his new book can help people develop and grow. Lessons on Leadership: The 7 Fundamental Management Skills for Leaders At All Levels is written in plain and economical language. Everything has utility in this book, which means you won’t waste any time searching for something that you need to know . . . now. He simplifies the complexities of running a business by sharing seven frameworks that cover many of the situations that leaders confront in building world-class organizations.
But don’t worry; none of it reads like a business textbook. His advice is based on his own experiences in the corporate world, as well as t he lessons he learned directly from leaders such as the late Coca-Cola Company CEO Roberto Goizueta. Stahl says, “These mentors were masters at managing situationally as well as strategically and their real-world lessons, many of which I share in these frameworks, expanded upon my training in economics and finance. Here’s part two of a Q&A with Mr. Stahl:
What do you mean exactly when you talk about leaders being visible, particularly your belief that those in leadership roles must get their hands dirty? That phrase encompasses a lot. It’s not just about rolling up ones sleeves anymore, right?
A good leader spends significant time meeting and talking with people up, down, and across their organization. By being visible in this way, the leader is positioned to ask questions of his or her people to learn about their challenges, where they are struggling and any barriers to success. The leader can then provide coaching to those individuals and has the ability to help solve any systemic roadblocks that can prevent success for the larger organization. I found I can talk to over one hundred people per week in one-on-one conversations simply by taking advantage of every opportunity to talk with people, before and after meetings, in the hallways, to and from the offices, and even in “elevator” conversations.
Please define “front lines.”
When I talk about front lines, I mean those people who interact directly with those who buy your products and services.
Feedback really is an essential ingredient for successfully developing employees, but it’s not as clear as some might think. What goes into effective feedback? Can managers learn how to do this effectively? What about their employees—can they “train” their managers to offer useful feedback? It seems to me that in some cases “feedback” is one of those words that has been tossed around for so many years that people actually have forgotten what it really means and how to use it. What do you think?