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Today, I had the opportunity to hear a fascinating interview with Carly Fiorina, the former president and CEO of Hewlett-Packard. From 1995-2005, she reinvented HP in order to compete in the rapidly-changing business landscape. Under her tenure at HP, revenues were doubled, costs were lowered, and HP became a world leader in innovation. Then, without warning, she was fired. The story is told in her book, Tough Choices.

Consider these quotes from the interview:

People are afraid to change, afraid to risk, afraid something will not work. A good leader gives a vision more compelling than their fears.

We have to create experiences with people in order to stretch them. Otherwise, people will simply practice the same skills they already have.

Leadership requires passion and dispassion. Passion is heart for the mission Dispassion allows us to be objective, to see people for what they are, and the situation for what it is. Passion can motivate – and blind.

Innovation means listening to people who think differently.

People are people, wherever you find them.

In many ways, she has boiled leadership down to three words: “character” and “tough choices.”

She also gave her read on the firing: it boiled down to a small group on the Board who wanted power and control (what a surprise!), and used back-room political tactics to get rid of her (again, what a surprise).

The interviewer, Bill Hybels, led the audience to pray for Ms. Fiorina, that her marriage would be blessed and she would have the discernment to know the next step in her leadership.

I plan to read the book.

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2 Comments

  1. You have brought up interesting concepts in terms of leadership. From my view, ‘Leaders’ can be visionaries, builders, executives, marketers, and/or entrepenuers, among other things. ‘Winners’ are typically leaders who happen to get the most publicity for some sort of accomplishment. Real winners know that the difference between first and second place boils down to about 5% effort (or less!). And they know that they aren’t 5% better than their competition.
    You gave a very good sermon on winners about 3 years ago that still resonates with me. I would read Fiorina’s book looking for examples of how she inspired, empowered, communicated, held people responsible for their performance/actions, and, maybe most importantly, how she led by example.

  2. I am in the process of learning more about my own leadership in Christian Ministry. The challenge is clear. I am learning to become better at leading with passion and dispassion! I have led with a concept that I needed to be “nice” and have accepted that as a Christian virtue. I am learning that my version of “nice” is my own deceptive cover to stay away from conflict.

    James says in chapter one that we are going to face various trials and temptations. he goes on to say that when we encounter them we are to seek God’s wisdom which He promises to give in abundance. I have experienced what I hope to be the beginning of a tremendous victory through using this very practical and powerful concept.

    Go headlong into the trial with God’s promise of wisdom and provision in the middle of the trial – rather than averting it with the false cover of being “nice”. There have been two trials already this past week that I have practiced this tool and it has given me great strength anew. It has helped me to be a little more dispassionate while gaining true passion!


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