December 2019 | Nano Tools | Leadership
Nano Tools for Leaders® are fast, effective leadership tools that you can learn and start using in less than 15 minutes — with the potential to significantly impact your success as a leader and the engagement and productivity of the people you lead.
Contributor: Ram Charan, advisor to many of the world’s top CEOs and corporate boards, and author of the best-seller Execution and 25 other books.
Develop a set of habits that will help you advance your thinking, judgment, and imagination.
We all know that mental capacity can grow in a nanosecond if there’s a will, discipline, and time devoted to practice. Recall a time when a question or comment you heard made you say, “Wow, that really opened my eyes,” or “Now I get it.” You shouldn’t leave these moments, and the important insights they generate, to chance. With practice, you can build your mental capacity just as athletes build their physical capacity. Practicing the following skills will set the stage for important gains in your thinking, judgment, and imagination.
Aaron Levie was 20 when he and some friends from high school decided to build a company that would help users share files and collaborate via the cloud. They solicited seed money for Box from famed investor Mark Cuban by cold-calling him via email. To their surprise, he funded them. They moved to Palo Alto to keep working on their project, getting more venture capital and scaling up from seven people to around 25. Ten years later, Box had $303 million in sales for fiscal year 2016, but to Levie that was just the start. Because he was a big-picture thinker, Levie could see the pieces coming together to create a $40 billion market for the kind of service his company provides. “We think there is a tremendous amount of upside,” he told Fortune in March that year.
Thirty-something Kiran Kumar Grandhi was a leader at India’s GMR Group when he was put in charge of building an airport — something that neither he nor his company had done before. He set out to learn everything he could as fast as possible. He persuaded Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad, which operated 39 airports in Malaysia, to partner with GMR for a small financial stake and made the most of their expertise. He also attended conferences, studied reports, and went behind the scenes at 35 airports around the world. “I spent real quality time in those airports, learning from the operations people and top-level executives,” Grandhi said. He turned weekly staff meetings into learning events by devoting part of the time to discussing how other airport companies dealt with retailers, fueling, or cargo. Learning and execution went hand-in-hand and the first airport project was a success, followed by many others.
1. “Effects of Networking on Career Success: A Longitudinal Study,” Hans-Georg Wolff and Klaus Moser, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Journal of Applied Psychology, 2009, Vol. 94, No. 1, 196 –206
Nano Tools for Leaders® was conceived and developed by Deb Giffen, MCC, director of Custom Programs at Wharton Executive Education. Nano Tools for Leaders® is a collaboration between joint sponsors Wharton Executive Education and Wharton’s Center for Leadership and Change Management. This collaboration is led by Professors Michael Useem and John Paul MacDuffie.
Subscribe to the Wharton@Work RSS Feed