The past few months I ramped up efforts to listen to business podcasts. One of my favorites is ‘Freakonomics Radio’ with Stephen Dubner, co-author of the well-known book. Currently, he’s doing a series with CEO’s – and I listened to him interview Jack Welch, Indra Nooyi and Sir Richard Branson.
Welch, the revered former head of GE, said one of the essentials of leadership is to provide candid feedback so employees know where they stand. Then, if they aren’t able to improve, to provide them a reasonable severance so they can find another company that might be a better fit.
Nooyi, CEO of Pepsico who once played lead guitar in an all-girl rock band, said she spends a lot of time in grocery stores: seeing how products are displayed, talking to managers and listening to customers. Being close to the end user, she said, is essential to remaining innovative and relevant,
Branson, the legendary founder of all things Virgin, said it’s essential for leaders to trust employees and to support them with benefits, such as a flexible work schedule. He pointed out employees go the extra distance during tough times if the company takes care of them along the way.
Personally, I find listening to podcasts to be a wonderful learning environment – and they motivate me to climb on the stationary bike and rowing machine with earbuds in place before jumping into the pool for my thrice-weekly 2,000-yard swim.