Shetland Ponies

Day 2 of i4cp’s 2012 Conference Keeps the Dog and Pony Show Rolling

And by dog and pony what I mean is an all-star lineup of exceptional speakers and a cute donkey bearing frosty libations.

Thursday in beautiful Scottsdale was another full day of fascinating presentations that brought the best of best practices to a completely engaged crowed of top-ranking human capital management practitioners. Doug Conant, former CEO of Campbell's Soup and coauthor of TouchPoints: Creating Powerful Leadership Connections in the Smallest of Moments kicked off the day’s learning with a presentation that blended his own philosophical approach to making the most of the moment with the hard business of people management. This bottom-line focused presentation was a refreshing way to start the day by putting perspective on the defining moments that allow leaders to make lasting impressions in a rapidly changing world. Through the personal insights gained in his own defining moments, Doug was able to show how the simplest interaction at the right time and in the right spirit can create lasting impressions … and how they can change a person in charge of leading into at truly inspirational leader. With all the practical and tactical challenges of leadership, this session taught us that the best way to make your input count is to remember that the greatest difference a leader can make is always in the now.

Next to the i4cp conference stage was Patti Cotter, VP of Human Resources at Nationwide Insurance, who literally started answering tough questions from our audience before her presentation even got started. I don’t think there were any in attendance who didn’t feel like they gained the ability to make their executive talent management and development functions more strategic by the time her presentation was through. I also couldn’t begin to lay out the breadth of knowledge she covered regarding 9-box application or the other tools in her arsenal. One particularly good insight, though, was that when executive leaders fail, it’s almost exclusively due to a lack of emotional intelligence and people leadership skills, not the technical competencies that more frequently define their role. All and all it was a very practical, practitioner view of what to do and how to do it when it comes to keeping an active, flowing and vibrant succession pipeline.

Three fascinating interviews with i4cp member next-practice pioneers followed, starting with Kee Meng Yeo, Director of Enterprise Talent Development for Amway. Amway is a leader in developing global talent that maintains a local focus and, among other initiatives, we learned that they are now pushing their model by developing global strategies and teams that don’t necessarily rely on physical mobility or relocation.

Allison Deaver, Senior Director of Talent Management for ConAgra Foods followed with a discussion of the elements of integrated talent management. From business case on, attendees learned how refining the various elements that comprise TM can smooth the road to integration.

Last but not least, John Shifflett, Director of Leadership, Professional and Technical Development at Newport News Shipbuilding shared his organization’s strategies on development. It was a good reminder of the critical component of pride in what you do, a force that inexorably compels those that are the best at something to seek out greater development of their potential.

After a short brake for a fabulously catered meal and networking round table discussions, the sessions started back with an awesomely inspiring presentation by Steven M.R. Covey, Global Practice Leader for the Speed of Trust Organization and author of The SPEED of Trust: The One Thing that Changes Everything. This presentation riveted our audience with yet another booster shot reminder of the human side of leadership. Although at heart we innately know it, there’s really nothing like the eye-opening realization that trust is vitally important to organizations. We know we work better with the ones we trust, and this presentation outlined the steps for making a culture of “deserved trust” – an optimistic balance of trust and risk consideration. We also learned how trust can become a self-perpetuating engine for increasing productivity and joy in the workplace. A nugget from this one (just one for the sake of time): Keeping commitments to yourself and trusting yourself is a necessary starting point for trusting others and inspiring them to trust in you.

Wednesday’s final presentation was from Garry Ridge, CEO of the WD-40 Company. Although he joked about following M.R.’s presentation, it was obvious early on that his would be another memorable favorite for i4cp members. Again, there’s not enough room here to gush, but by the time his presentation was finished a good portion of the audience was ready to send him their résumé. That’s what a compelling culture can do. Who wouldn’t want to work for an organization that models the servant leadership style and tribal sense of community at WD-40? I think what was most memorable for me was the concept of having an organization that defines itself through tribes over teams. Why? Because a team is what you’re a member of, but a tribe is what you belong to.

If there’s a theme emerging from this conference, it’s about the human-centered culture of high-performance organizations. Over and over our outstanding presenters are telling us that being the genuine people we all want to be not only doesn’t conflict with corporate agendas, but that it makes an organization that’s stronger, more resilient and more competitive than any exclusively profit-driven machine can match. Just keep reminding yourself to pull that real life people stuff out of the spreadsheets. If you need a mantra, just remember TouchPoints, Trust, Pride and Tribes.

Oh. We also got to end the day by partying with an adorable donkey named Mija. Sombreros and margaritas were optional.
Eric Davis
Eric received his master’s degree in journalism and mass communication from Marshall University in 1996. He has had 20+ years of workforce experience in a variety of fields. Before coming to i4cp, he worked as a laboratory technician for DuPont, a conference planner for Marshall University, the public relations manager for the Robert C. Byrd Institute for Advanced Technical Manufacturing, and a graphic designer for COX Communications.