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CEO Daily Brief – Nov. 22, 2010

Massey Energy CEO May Face Showdown with Directors Veteran CEOs often find themselves at odds with their boards of directors. …

Massey Energy CEO May Face Showdown with Directors

Veteran CEOs often find themselves at odds with their boards of directors. Sometimes, chief executives even have to respond to threats to continuing in their jobs. An example is going on this week. Massey Energy Co. directors may clash with longtime CEO Don Blankenship as they debate a possible sale of the coal company and some other options that could produce a leadership change.

Blankenship believes Massey wouldn’t attract a good price right now due to regulatory issues and related problems stemming from an April mine disaster that killed 29 workers, according to a story a Wall Street Journal story. However, the 20-year CEO of Massey may not be able to persuade fellow directors to keep the company independent during the board’s annual strategy-review meeting that began Sunday.

The Journal reports that a source told them Blankenship’s vote is only one of 10, and the 10-member board may choose a strategy based on a split vote. The final outcome may be based on a vote of eight to two or nine to one, according to this person. Two of the scenarios being considered by the board may lead to the need for a new CEO, The Journal says. For more from The Wall Street Journal, please click here.

Leadership Comes from Consistency, Implementing 100-Day Plans at Fahrenheit 212

Geoff Vuleta, CEO of Fahrenheit 212, a consulting firm in Manhattan, keeps his employees focused by having them contribute to its set of 100-day goals — and asking them to meet them. He explains in an interview with The New York Times, his approach to managing people focuses on trying to uncover what people are really good at doing and then give them of a lot of that to do. He has never believed in obsessing over trying to get people to do things that they are no good at anyway.

When it comes to leadership, one of the traits of a good leader is being able to build loyalty beyond reason, and getting people totally believing that something’s possible. And he has always believed that everybody wants to be led.

They want to know what they should be doing, and they want to know that what they’re doing is important. And an environment needs to be set up in which they totally trust that.

Consistency of behavior is the most important thing in running a group of people. To get consistency, they get together every 100 days as a group, and draw up a list of all the things that they want to get done in the next 100 days. Individual plans are put together. The sum of everybody’s plan nails the firm’s list. For more about Vuleta’s approach to leadership, as explained by The New York Times, please click here.

Value-Based Management Lessons from the Marines

A group of Atlanta business leaders recently spent time at the Marine Recruit Depot at Parris Island in South Carolina. The purpose of the trip, organized by the Center for Ethics and Corporate Responsibility, was to learn about the Marines’ values-based training strategy. They learned how the Marines’ foundational values of “Honor, Courage and Commitment” are integrated into nearly every aspect of basic training. Based on the time spent with the officers and recruits at Parris Island, there are some battlefield-tested disciplines for values-based leadership that can be applied to the business world.

Employees want to be a part of something bigger than themselves. The Marines use their history to connect recruits and veterans with a long legacy of proud, honorable service to the nation and to fellow Marines. In fact, values-based leadership is simply reinforcing what the Marines have been practicing, training and enforcing since the birth of the Corps in 1775.

The original commandant’s order to create the Marines’ Values Based Program came from General Charles C. Krulak. This order codified the core values of “Honor, Courage and Commitment,” and spelled out the management processes for integrating values throughout the corps. The original process is broken down into three steps:

Initial entry training — every Marine is formally instructed on the core values as soon as they enter the serviceReinforcement education — a comprehensive listing of values education during advanced training coursesSustainment education — the directive that the core values need to be demonstrated in the daily course of events by all leadersThe most effective values-based management programs in the private sector also have an enterprise-wide process of training, education and reinforcement. The key, however, is to have a CEO — like the commandant — who is the standard bearer for an organization’s values, modeling the behavior expected of others.

In addition, Walter Fluker, ethicist and author, says that storytelling is one of the principle roles leaders must play to advance values based management. The Marine Corps’ name for this is “tie-ins,” a specific reference to tying-in words and thoughts with actions.The military was the first to develop the idea of a force multiplier, an attribute that significantly increases the effectiveness of a group. The success of the troops can be boiled down to understanding that one plus one equals much more than two and, at the same time, the chain is only as strong as the weakest link.

For more lessons from the Marine Corps as explained in the Harvard Business Review, please click here.

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