Fortune Leadership Forum Speakers Discuss Unique Perspectives on Leadership in Advance of Event on June 26-27, 2007

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Fortune Leadership Forum will bring together established and emerging leaders from a wide variety of organizations to explore high impact approaches at New York City event. Speakers will include Leaders from Southwest Airlines, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc., George W. Casey, Chief of Staff of U.S. Army.

When people resist adaptive work, their first goal is to shut down leadership in order to preserve what they have.

Three of the prominent speakers attending the upcoming FORTUNE Leadership Forum in New York City on June 26th & 27th have contributed their unique perspectives on the topic of leadership in advance of the event. Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson, Co-Founders of CultureRx, and Doris Kearns Goodwin, Pulitzer Winning Author and Presidential Historian, recently answered a series of questions about their personal thoughts on leadership. Those interested in learning even more about leadership from these and other world-renowned leadership experts still have time to register for the Fortune Leadership Forum.

Q&A - Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson - Co-Founders, CultureRx:

Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson will be leading the Fortune Leadership Forum workshop session entitled, "Leading Talent through Trust: The Best Buy Initiative."

1.) Who is the best leader you've encountered during your careers and why?

We realized quickly in our careers that the people that would 'lead us' would not be your typical 'weighted business card' leaders. In fact, if we'd been looking for leadership there and only there, we may have missed the opportunity to learn what leadership is all about.

Leadership means first and foremost having the ability to 'be led'. By listening to the voices of the people around us (and not above us) and carrying their voices with our own beliefs forward, we learned the true meaning of what it takes to lead. Leading is all about advocating and giving the work back. It's all about personal integrity and humility - not only as a value written on the walls of corporate America. People will follow great leaders.

As we lead from the middle, converting team by team to a "Results Only Work Environment" (ROWE), we found that it was the people's passion for the new lifestyle that in turn spawned hundreds of evangelists that continue to carry the change forward.

The leaders are the people living the ROWE lifestyle - the true leaders of the movement that will de-Dilbertize work in America and around the world. You can Google all of the attributes of effective leadership. Try it sometime and you will be inundated with articles and books on the topic. Did the famous leaders in history read about effective leadership before becoming great leaders?

2.) If you could only give one piece of advice to someone taking over your position, what would it be?

Any time you're faced with leading adaptive change, first read: Leadership on the Line: Staying Alive Through the Dangers of Leading by Ronald A. Heifetz and Marty Linsky. It provides a sobering analysis of how organizations connive to oppose change and how leaders get bruised, or even destroyed, in the process. In Ron's words, "When people resist adaptive work, their first goal is to shut down leadership in order to preserve what they have."

Know that as you are leading, many will be trying to shut you down every day. A can-do attitude is essential. In an adaptive journey that is all about challenging the status quo, there is no end to the battles that need to be fought and obstacles that need to be overcome.

There will be moments every day where you'll think, "It would be so much easier to just forget about this and not fight anymore." It's in those moments when you need to dig deep inside and ask yourself if you really believe in the cause. Do you really believe there is a better way to work? Do you really believe a ROWE can impact the quality of family life around the world? Do you really believe people are being lynched in a socially acceptable way in the work environment because they have kids, because they're young or old, or because they just can't play the office politics game? Holding strong to what you believe in day in and day out will help you orchestrate the change that you envision.

Finally, know that most often you will get booed instead of cheered. And know that in the act of leading, you may never hear applause. Ever.

3.) What difficulties have you met trying to implement "No Meeting, No Schedules" in Best Buy retail stores? What adjustments have you had to make? Do you remain optimistic that it will work in a retail setting?

At this time, CultureRx and Best Buy have partnered to bring a ROWE to 75% of the corporate employee population at the Richfield, MN headquarters. A ROWE for a retail environment will look and feel significantly different than a ROWE for a corporate environment as retail employees face fundamentally different issues and challenges than corporate employees.

We believe that some of the common retail work practices created based on beliefs about the way retail should operate are stifling not only employees' productivity and engagement, but their ability to effectively serve the customer.

CultureRx plans to remove targeted restrictions, reshaping the foundation of the culture to empower retail employees to make the best decisions for the company and their customers. In a ROWE, management can stop monitoring the hallways (or aisles), and focus their entire energy on the business. All associates are free to use the ROWE lifestyle as a way to harness new relationships between themselves and their work to perform better, focus better and deliver results.

ROWE is not compressed workweek. ROWE is not flextime. ROWE is not telecommuting. ROWE is a bold, cultural transformation that permeates the attitudes and operating style of an entire workplace. The ROWE lifestyle has foundational elements that can, and will work in any work environment.

Q&A - Doris Kearns Goodwin - Pulitzer Prize winning author and presidential historian

Doris Kearns Goodwin will be leading the Fortune Leadership Forum session, "The Ultimate Executive Office: Leadership in the White House."

1.) Who is the best leader you've encountered during your career and why?

Abraham Lincoln is the most effective leader I have studied. While FDR's conduct as commander in chief during World War II is a close second, Lincoln possessed a greater array of emotional strengths that grounded his leadership style and allowed him to create the most unusual cabinet in presidential history comprised of his chief rivals for the presidency, each of whom thought he should have been president instead of Lincoln.

Throughout, he possessed an uncanny ability to empathize and understand other people's points of view. Over and over, he repaired injured feelings that might have escalated into permanent hostility. He shared credit with ease, assumed responsibility for the failures of his subordinates, learned from his mistakes. He refused to be provoked by petty grievances, to submit to jealousy or to brood over perceived slights. Time and again, he was the one who dispelled his colleagues' anxiety and sustained their spirits with his gift for storytelling and his life-affirming sense of humor. And he expressed his unshakable convictions in a language of enduring beauty.

2.) What are the two or three contributing factors to the crisis of leadership in this country today?

People have sometimes asked whether Lincoln could be elected today. I think if he were running today - even with his unfortunate beard (which he might be convinced to cut) and his curious stovepipe hat (which he might be convinced to discard) - he would win hands down for people would recognize instantly how smart, funny, clever and wise he is, but the harder question is whether he would run for office today given the state of our political climate. Which raises the larger worry about whether our best people are entering public life. I think not -- due to the necessity to spend so many waking hours begging for funds before even beginning to compete, plus the intrusion of the press into one's private life, the ease with which one mistaken remark can undo a reputation and the difficulty of getting bipartisan cooperation even if one wins.

The Fortune Leadership Forum will teach attendees how to be better leaders, identify new leaders within an organization's pipeline, and explore the new rules of leadership. The day-and-a-half program will inspire, motivate, and help deliver competitive advantage and long-term value to your organization.

Those interested in attending should visit the Fortune Leadership Forum site.

Confirmed speakers for the conference include: Gary Kelly, Vice Chairman and CEO of Southwest Airlines; Susan Lyne, President and CEO of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc.; David Neeleman, Chairman of JetBlue Airways; George W. Casey, Chief of Staff of U.S. Army; and Dan DiMicco, Chairman, President and CEO of Nucor Corporation.

Major sponsors of the Fortune Leadership Forum include: CityCenter, Las Vegas, Herman Miller and NASDAQ.

Fortune Leadership Forum registration.

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Erin Clinton
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