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MIT Leadership Center – From the Podium: Anne M. Mulcahy

| February 9, 2010

by Jim Bruce

MIT’s Leadership Center <> hosted Anne Mulcahy, then Xerox’s Chairman and CEO at the Sloan School’s Dean’s Innovative Leader Series in November 2006.  A synopsis of her remarks will be found at <> and a video of the entire presentation is available at MIT World <>.

Mulcahy assumed the leadership of Xerox in 2001 when many thought that the company was a sinking ship.  In five years, the company was back to profitability and had no core debt.  These are not the reasons I have included her piece in this series.  Rather, as I listened to her it was clear that her strategies for righting the Xerox ship seemed to be right on for what leaders in IT should be doing at this moment:

1.  “Focus on your customers, and lead your people as though their lives depended on your success.” advice from Warren Buffett which she followed.

2.  Listen to your core constituencies and be prepared to act on what you hear.  Look for critical feedback; it’s a gift to discover a problem early.

3.  Ask “Would the customer pay for this?”

4.  Customer connectivity is something that has to be a part of all jobs in business.

5.  Leaders should surround themselves with “people who are different and smarter than you are (and) people who have skills that you don’t have.”

6.  When a crisis hits, a leader needs to articulate a vision for the organization that goes beyond just scraping by.  ”Even at the worst of times, invest in the best of times.“  

7.  Leadership is a team sport.  Communication is critical.  Messages have to be consistent.

8.  Align people around a common set of goals.

To me, these sound like what leaders need to be doing, no matter what they lead or the level of that leadership.  So, I challenge you to take Mulcahy’s advice as you move forward in 2010.


.  .  .  .  .   jim