Leaders in Baking Innovation
I just attended the National Grocers Association annual convention, where George W. Bush delivered the keynote address, and wanted to share some of the insights I gained from his remarks. Many may wonder about the relevance here–what does a speech from our nation’s 43rd president have to do with the baking industry? Well, President Bush spoke at length and in candid terms about leadership, so given that this issue is Leaders In Baking Innovation, it seemed like a good fit for this column.
Here are some characteristics President Bush described that anyone in a position of leadership should take to heart:
• Develop a set of priciples and stick with them. Above all, what do you, and ultimately your company, want to be known for? Honesty. Integrity. Fairness. These are all important, but it takes a strong leader to be the driving force and, shall I say, the face of whatever principles you decide are key.
• Show calm in the face of crisis. The way you react, especially to the difficulties and unexpected turns of your business, will almost always set the tone for how others around you will feel and ultimately behave.
• Your motivation for doing certain things or how you do them should never be driven by what you expect others will think of you. President Bush described how so much of politics and policy is wrongly shaped by public opinion. As a business leader, many of the decisions you make will not always be popular, but in the end, don’t water down what you feel is right.
• Be decisive. This is not to be be confused with being knee-jerk. But rather, consider all of the information you have along with consequences and make decisions in a timely manner.
• Build a good team consisting of smart people who will not be afraid to come to you with recommendations or offer opinions. But, and this is something the president really stressed, those same people need to understand that once you make the final decision, they need to follow you.
During these challenging times, strong leadership is important regardless of the business you operate or industry in which you compete. As you are likely someone in a leadership position at your bakery operation, I hope some of these points are helpful. And finally, please closely examine the information in the 2010 edition of Leaders In Baking Innovation. The companies who have participated this year are ready to work with you and help you succeed. Give them the opportunity to do just that.
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