Headline Dec 23, 2015/ ''' THE WORLD : HAS SO MUCH TO TEACH '''

''' THE WORLD : 


LORI DICKERSON FOUCHE is the chief executive officer of Prudential Group Insurance.

And here she is,..... at her very best-    to give you all a peep in her understanding and judgement  of passion, resilience and perseverance when she hires new applicants for the company.

Q. Were you in a leadership role or doing entrepreneurial things when you were younger [student]?

A. Certainly in high school. I was class president when I was a junior. In my senior year, I joined the Board of Education as the student representative. I also played sports and was captain of softball and basketball teams.

Q. Tell me about your parents. How have they influenced you?

A. My dad is an ex-Navy guy who went to work in business. I watched my father be resilient as well as being able to adapt as an  African-American man in corporate America. I saw both his successes and his frustrations.

My mom combined her artistic interests   -she worked in a jewelry store  
and did fair amount of advising young people through out her life. And my mother would always say to me, '' If you don't like your situation, change it.''
She was pretty strong on that regard. I think she picked up some of that from her own mother. who had to pick and sell dandelion greens to pay for college.

Q. What advice do you give to new college graduates?

A. I typically tell them that your first job usually doesn't matter that much, so find something that you really want to do. And even if it's not what you really want to do, learn whatever you can from the experience. Take the time now to experiment and take risks and do different things.

Also, find a company that has a good fit for what's important to you and your values. That fit is really important, and I'll usually share my stories about how the companies I've chosen to work with were really good fits for me.

Don't just put up with bad culture, a bad situation or a bad manager. That said, you need to find ways to go over and under and around problems. But you also have to know when to say when.

Q. How do you hire?

A. I want to know that people have done their due diligence on the company, and that they have a passion for wanting to work for our company. I want them to care enough to have done their research to make sure there's also a good cultural fit.

So, I'll ask, ''What kind of cultures do you like to work in? Where do you excel? How do you excel? If you find yourself in situations where they're not going the way you want them to, what do you do? How people conduct themselves when they face challenges is really important.

I also ask for resilience and perseverance. Most of my background has been working in big companies, and you have to find a way to navigate and negotiate to an end result. It could be a windy path. So I make sure that people feel like they know how to do that, and do it in a way that is respectful of the system.

And then, if they're in a leadership position, I want to know how they lead people. So I will ask questions about difficult leadership situations and how they managed people through them. I'll also want to understand how they make their own hiring and firing decisions.  

Q. Where there any other favorite family expressions that would get repeated around the dinner table?

A. ''To whom much is given, much is required.'' And, ''Mediocrity is not a good place to be.'' We had many childhood conversations around the dinner table about mediocrity. They would say, ''You need to work harder than most people do, given your race and gender.''

Q. What are some early lessons you learned about being a manager?

A. One was learning how to prioritize. You simply can't do everything. There were times I would walk into a new job, and my eyes would be huge and I would feel like a kid in a candy shop.

I'd think, ''Let's just get after it,'' instead of, ''O.K, let's pause. ''What's the most important to really get after?'' 

Being able to say ''No''  or  ''Not now''  were important lessons for me. Another lesson stemmed from fact that I had been used to thinking, ''I can get through the brick wall, I can make this happen.'' I was very self-reliant, and I figured that I could do it, so could the team.

So I over worked some teams pretty early on, and that led to an early lesson around asking for help. It's O.K. not to have all the answers and not be able to do everything and put your hand up and say, ''I need help.''

I was so surprised by how people really wanted to help. They loved being invited into the process.

I've learned to be transparent, and to share my thoughts so that other people could follow them. I learned an important lesson from a colleague when I was  C.E.O, at another company, who said:
''Lori, this is a little bit like being on the train, and you're in the front of the train and we're in the dark.

You can see the light at the tunnel. But there are people who are toiling in the back, and they're throwing coal in the engine, and they're working the cars, and that's all they know.

You should be at the front of the train, but your job is to shorten the distance between you and the back of the train so that we can all see what you see at the front.''

Q. Tell me about your leadership style now.

A.  I expect my leaders to listen. I expect them to ask questions. I expect them to understand what's going on. I'm somewhat infamous for saying,'' So how is it going?'' And they'll say, ''Great.'' 
Then I'll say, ''How do you know?''

It's one thing when people start telling you anecdotes and it's another thing when they can say, ''Well, because we track that and measure that.'' We`make sure we are analytical in our approaches.

With respectful dedication to the Students, Professors and Teachers of the world. See Ya all on !WOW!  -the World Students Society:

''' Leading '''

Good Night and God Bless

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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