Did You Leave Fingerprints?

English: Fingerprint

Glenn Murphy resigned his CEO role with Gap, Inc. effective February 1, 2015.

While I don’t know Murphy, I do know one thing about his 8-year stint at the Gap: Murphy left “fingerprints.”

Murphy was brought at a time when Gap was generally described as “adrift” and “without focus.” While financial results were mixed during his tenure – retail is a tough place for anyone to perform well – the stock price doubled during his time holding the stick. The not-so-focused company is now focused, and holding its own.

Given the respect from stock analysts in the way Murphy has managed, it’s no surprise the stock dumped on his announcement.

The challenge in assessing most candidates is that unlike Murphy, they left few enduring marks. Their time at a company or in a role is too short.

Kevin Weill, at Twitter, for example, just became the fourth head of product in four years. His predecessor, hired from the outside, lasted all of six months. While I’d guess Kevin is talented, you have to wonder based on past in the role whether he’ll be around long enough to leave his mark.

Cut to the chase?

When you’re hiring, look for candidates who have been some place or in a role long enough to leave their mark, not just the fortunate (or unfortunate) recipient of timing (e.g. a rising tide lifts all boats, a falling tide sinks all boats).

Life Back West is an occasional set of writings focused on ways people, teams and organizations can be both more effective (doing the right thing) and more efficient (doing the right thing well). More about executive, career and team / leadership coaching services can be found at the “About J. Mike Smith and Back West, Inc.” sidebar or the “Hire Me” tab. You can also read an online interview with me at WhoHub.

 

Fingerprint (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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The Problem with Values

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Many organizations proudly tout them. But are value statements worth the time taken to write them? Here are some examples: “Observe and preserve our core values of open communication, empowerment, inclusion, integrity, and trust.” (Cisco) “A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.” (Boy Scouts of America) “Explore, enjoy and protect the […]

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The Litmus Test: Would Donald Sterling Work Here?

I heard Tim Wise speak yesterday regarding race, gender, and the bagful of what gets summarized as diversity and inclusion. #74716269 / gettyimages.com Wise was forceful, funny and spot-on. Sample lines: “If race is a card (e.g. “race card”) it’s a two of diamonds” and “Some execs like to colorize their organizations the ways Ted Turner […]

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[Mentors Count] Paging Sue Leeson

sleeson_bw

"The right mentor can help you get ahead" according to the Boston Globe.

An article in Forbes headlines "To build a great company, start with great mentors."

And the wrong or no mentor? A recipe for more career detours or a life in the slower lane.

I got a chance last weekend at my alma mater Willamette University's terrifically done Alumni Weekend to spend time with one of my college mentors, Susan Leeson.

I met Sue when she was fresh out of grad school from earning her PhD at Claremont, just a very few years after she had graduated from Willamette.

Short on years and experience, Sue was (and is) long on EQ (and IQ) and advising smarts. While mentoring can be trained and developed in people, Sue had clearly done coursework on her own time for all of her life.

After I'd nodded off at one 1 PM Friday 12-person seminar - a class I'd asked to sit in - she observed that I must have a lot going on and asked how I was doing.

After turning in some work that was OK but not great, Sue noted "You can do better" and then talked about ways to meet a bar I'd set myself.

Mentoring is a little like dating - there is no formula for finding a great mentor. And Sue has that touch to nudge and care, prod and nurture.

Post Willamette we lost touch, though I continued to follow Sue's career which led to her going to law school to get a JD, teach law school, serve on the Oregon Court of Appeals and later on the state of Oregon Supreme Court. She now teaches and works as a (much sought-after) mediator; it was sweet to feel that same strong connection we had 40 years ago when we say each other last week at Alumni Weekend.

The Forbes article mentioned above has a very helpful list of things to do - and things to don't - when identifying and working with mentors.

And when you're lucky enough to find people like Sue Leeson, cherish them. They are as precious as rare jewels, and when it comes to your career, more valuable.

Life Back West is an occasional set of writings focused on ways people, teams and organizations can be both more effective (doing the right thing) and more efficient (doing the right thing well). More about executive, career and team / leadership coaching services can be found at the “About J. Mike Smith and Back West, Inc.” sidebar or the “Hire Me” tab. You can also read an online interview with me at WhoHub.

Picture: Susan Leeson - James Madison University.

Mentoring is hot, both on college campuses and in the private sector. “The right mentor can help you get ahead” according to the Boston Globe. An article in Forbes headlines “To build a great company, start with great mentors.“ And the wrong or no mentor? A recipe for more career detours or a life in […]

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Why were you fired? “I’m not altogether sure”

Fired red stamp

It happens. Out of the blue an exec (or anyone else) gets whacked. Sometimes it’s a clear quantitative reason (e.g. sales goals weren’t met). But many times it’s not. And that not-so-clear can be for a host of reasons frequently including “bad” fit. And at the top, where competence is a given, fit is what what sometimes […]

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[Life Back West] Early Autumn 2014 – The Big Reset

English: Value function in Prospect Theory, dr...

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The Launch of Launch

ee97b218-598e-4af8-babb-55984ac3c7bcBecause Every Path is Different

My colleague Tricia Stone and her co-founder Kurt Wolfgang have started up a business geared to “connect education with the rest of life, starting in high school, and continuing throughout college.”  It’s a terrific and needed idea, and they’re going to be outstanding at this work. Here’s their August newsletter which has lessons for all of […]

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