Inspiration all around

At a recent event with Dr. Alan Merten, George Mason University President, Sudhakar Shenoy, CEO iMC, and Ted Leonsis, Founder, Chairman and Majority Owner, Monumental Sports and Entertainment (includes the Washington Capitals, Wizards, Verizon Center and much more).

This week, I had the opportunity to see Ursla Burns, the CEO of Xerox, speak to a large audience of CEOs from a variety of industries.  She was so impressive in her accomplishments and her thoughts. She is actually the first and only African American woman CEO of a fortune 500 company.

Some of her comments on leadership and culture really struck me.  To paraphrase her comments:

  • Create motivating and galvanizing purpose in the work that you do.
  • Be passionate and incredibly focused on it. People who make the biggest difference in life are impatient for improving things around themselves and they are successful at transforming that into bold action.
  • We can succeed by moving things faster than others think is possible. This one hits home for me,  I believe that in our culture formal and informal leaders need to celebrate impatience. It is okay to want performance improvement to be your battle cry. This focus makes indifference and apathy unacceptable. In healthcare, these two things, indifference and apathy, don’t just mean that a job is done a bit sloppily, without really caring–they could make the difference between life and death.

So to effectively lead and transform, we all need to take a stance and stand behind it.  At the end of the day, we have to be accountable for that and be willing to take the shots and criticism when we are wrong.  And most importantly, share the glory when you are right.  This week one of the great leaders, Steve Jobs, passed away.  Who is it that inspires you and why?

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