Leading a Multibillion Dollar Company
Harry Kraemer served as chairman and CEO of Baxter International, a multibillion-dollar company, for six years. What follows is a sampling of principles that guided him.
Harry Kraemer says in his book, From Values to Action, that values-based leaders go beyond influence to, “… using their influence to pursue what matters.”
Simply put, what matters most is the greater good.
Harry reminded me that from an organizational point of view, a great leadership team helps leaders determine what matters most.
Operationally, the greater good is “the positive change you can effect within a team, department, division, or organization, or even on a global level.”
Harry explains that what matters begins with your values and extends to engaging in “making a difference and setting an example.”
His experience demonstrates that values-based leaders are highly focused decision-makers with less stress in their lives.
The four principles of value-based leadership:
Self-reflection. When leaders take the time to reflect on what is important to them and why, they transform activity into productivity. Read how Harry learned the value of self-reflection on Journey to Silence.
- Balance: The ability to understand all sides of an issue. Facing issues holistically simplifies the world. In addition, action plans become more obvious.
- Self–confidence: The ability to see and accept yourself exactly as you are.
- Genuine humility: Never forgetting who you are, appreciating the value of each person, and treating everyone respectfully.
A key point:
The book has two other parts that you can explore on Amazon. A key idea that hits me is, “Leaders must shift their focus from success to significance.”
********Harry’s career advice:
Choose opportunities that allow you to grow and learn.
Find places where you can add the most value.
Ask can I have fun here.
“I want to make a difference with my life – by treating others with respect and never focusing on my own needs ahead of the goals of my team or the organization”
Part 1 of my interview with Harry Kraemer: Journey to Silence
Part 2 of my interview with Harry Kraemer: Three Things Strong Leaders Do
What does values-based leadership mean to you?
What career advice do you offer?
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Harry’s career advice is awesome. As a freelancer, I’ll be asking myself “can I have fun with this project?” more often thanks to this post. It is so easy to say yes and lose sight of what matters. But saying yes to the wrong projects is no fun at all. They only drain my energy.
I want to add to people’s lives not subtract. I like the quote. I wrote this post just two days ago: http://billgrandi.ovcf.org/wordpress/?p=5709 Have enjoyed this “series” with Harry
Wow! Extremely powerful message. This book seems a must to read. Thanks Dan for raising the awareness of it.
I believe that Harry’s approach of values based leadership is spot on. As a transformation coach, one of the areas I focus on first is helping people identify their core values precisely because these guide people to make the right decisions for them. In my experience, many companies would benefit by identifying the organization’s values, which would simplify decision making and reduce / eliminate politics. Imagine how productive people could be if companies eliminated politics!!
For people seeking a career move, I routinely advise that they understand their own values first, then determine if there’s a match with the values at prospective companies. When values are in alignment, motivation will be higher and people will have more fun. When values are out of alignment, there’s usually an unsettled feeling…certainly not a situation that’s fun.
Priorities change, values don’t. I am curious how Harry dealt with the difference and how he instilled a value throughout the organization.
Value based “anything” I believe, generate meaningful results. For example, in sales mentoring I encourage sales people to be driven to add value to potential clients, and the opportunity to make the sale will create itself. There is somethis aspirational about honouring and respecting a values based leader, who puts people and relevance first and therefore creating the opporutnity to improve productivity, output and then the bottom line.
I enjoy your posts, thank you!
“a great leadership team helps leaders determine what matters most”…. when meeting a deadline is mistaken as the priority over the objective of the project, leadership has not determined what matters most… So, how do you get the team to realize the end goal has been compromised?
Most of what I encounter these days about leadership development stresses leadership as its own discipline, in isolation from questions about mission, purpose and passion. There’s this idea afloat–I’m not even sure its practitioners acknowledge this–that effective leaders are basically interchangeable. That you can take a leader from one team and move them over to another team, with a completely different mission and culture, and they will thrive there. There is also this idea that leadership traits are hardwired into a person’s brain and personality. These leadership “gurus” ignore the dynamics of maturation and skill-building. It’s all about personal branding and building influence–toward what end?
I like Harry’s approach and values. He gets to what matters.
I appreciate the Harry’s approach of value based leadership. I especially like the point about ” Choose opportunities that allow you to grow and learn, and Find places where you can add the most value. These things are worth to think about. People usually do not consider beforehand these things, they think only after experiences. I think value based leadership is living and not passing life of others and self. When leader is concerned only about his life, then I do not think, this is value based leadership. Values based leadership for me is creating positive change in people and surroundings.
I would rather offer career advice to focus to live with your values. When position and designation require you to compromise with your values, then you should think twice before starting your career there. You should always keep your values above position and success. IF position and success do not challenge your values, then it is fine. When they challenge your values, then it depends upon what do you want.
Good morning Dan! During my career in a few different industries, what has served me well is always continuing to learn. Whether it be achieving industry designations through self study or taking university classes. Continuous education is one of my core values and I highly encourage my team to pursue this as well.
One of the greatest compliments I have received was when one of my team members told me that I had inspired her to go back to school.
It’s interesting that Kraemer and every other leader you’ve interviewed since I started following comes back to the idea of service. It’s so hard to fight the tendency to serve myself, since it often seems like no one else is. However, things are the most “fun” when you get your motives straight. I put “fun” in quotes because I don’t like what our society means by the word — Americans equate fun with leisure and ease and being entertained, where I think Kraemer probably means the enjoyment that comes from contributing to your potential in an area that interests you.
So often in my work leaders (presidents, Ceo’s, GM’s) expect to see analytical results to meet organizational goals but aren’t willing to adjust their attitudes or management styles in the process. As a consequence any short term gains achieved farther down the hierarchical chart don’t last because followers emulate those above them. Excellent interview. So much of Kraemer and other highly successful leaders espouse comes from a basis of multiple “religions” and the Rotary creed of “service above self”.
Great short but inspiring post – I would love to work with Harry! While each point mentioned is valuable, I love asking yourself if you can have fun here. I think that speaks to a company that values diversity and a free exchange of ideas versus too many places where you are expected to conform and not “upset the apple cart”.
I like that three of Harry’s principles are about self-management: self-reflection, humility, and self confidence. The last one is a major interest of mine: balance, defined as the ability to see issues from all sides. The key with balance is compromising to a mediocre middle, but rather maintaining the integrity of differing points of view to ladder up to the best possible solution.
I think you meant “The key with balance is NOT compromising…”
If so, I agree wholeheartedly, but I believe this is difficult because it is usually not easy to rise above the mediocre to to find the best possible solution.
It is also very important to act upon your reflections and observations. Great post!
“Leaders must shift their focus from success to significance.” That packs a punch.
Thank you, Dan, for sharing your interview nuggets with the world.
I have discovered that the principle of Self-Reflection that Harry lists as #1 is the foundation of all the other principles. To reflect and review what worked and what didn’t work gives us a starting point to do things better as leaders. I like to call it the principle of RE.
The problem isn’t what we know… the problem is that what we know is not often enough reflected in what we do. We know better… now we need to Remember and REcommit to DO better…so we can BE better. And there is a strong possibility that when we do….others will notice and be inspired by our example to do the same.
Just found your site from a tweet link. Harry seems like a very interesting person. I appreciate his carrer advice, especially about asking yourself, “can I have fun here?”If you don’t enjoy what you are doing, that will always come across to others. Can’t wait to read pts 1+2!
Already I like the the question ‘Can I have fun here?’ It changes your approach, it resets your attitude which in turn positively affects your behavior but most importantly the behavior and creativity (problem solving ability) of your team. I would definitely love to see Harry Kramer’s insights and practical examples in his book. Thank you all !!!
At first I thought “authenticity” was missing. I thought about it, and I realized authenticity is not easily knowable or achievable. We all think we are being authentic, but are we really? In addition, authenticity is not “good” in itself. It is good if our values are good.
My new thought is that Mr. Kramer’s 4 principles of value-based leadership, Self-reflection, Balance, Self-confidence, and Genuine humility bring a person closer to authenticity and to good. I have seen many “lists,” the four this and he four that. These are among the best “fours.”
Dan, great stuff! My experience has echoed Harry’s. I have always tried to lead by doing the right things for the right reasons and caring as much about how we worked as what we accomplished. At times some would say that I had a “not for profit” mind in a for profit world. Perhaps. But 35 years later what I see is the lives that were touched and the difference that was made…far more memorable than the money that was made.
Career advice. Get to truly know who you are and were meant to do. Then, finding the place where you can grow and learn, the place where you can have the greatest impact, and the place where you can have fun will be clearer.
What does values-based leadership mean to you?
What career advice do you offer?
I don’t think leaders and the people they lead have to share the same EXACT values, but I think it is important for everyone in the organization to be aware of their own values (self awareness) and the leader has the added challenge of understanding what values drive the people in the organization so those can be nurtured and grown.
As far as advice, I think mine ties into the “look for a place where you can have fun.” I keep ending up in conversations with people younger than me who are making decisions about their future. When one said, “well I just got an advanced degree in [blank] where I can make a good living, but it’s kind of boring and my real passion is [blank], I try to encourage them to reconcile that sooner rather than later. When you’re not incorporating what you are passionate about into as much of your work life as possible, it’s potentially a lose-lose for everyone b/c your employer isn’t getting the most out of you and you are not giving your all.
You don’t seem to hear very much about balance and it’s importance for a successful leader. From the post, Mr. Kraemer’s idea seems to be about looking at an issue from all sides. Is that all there is to it? I don’t think so. By thinking of the opposite, imbalance, you realize how import balance is as a leadership trait. I look forward to reading the book to find out all he says about balance and the other traits.
one should never get so busy they lose sight of people; including oneself…take time to reflect and take inventory once in a while
I’ve always made it a personal policy to work at what I enjoy, and when things start feeling “not so right” I ask myself “am I still having fun.” If not, it may be time to either move on or make some major changes. It works… I’ve loved every new job or business better than the one before, and have never looked back with any reqrets. Can’t wait to read this book.
Here is great technique 🙂
Thanks for the great post and the great book …
Lovin’ bein’ in the goldmine today! What awesome nuggets. STS…what a great driver. Balance–walk in everyone’s shoes a little more often and appreciate them.
Probably the one career advice piece that rang so true aligned with my past life as a therapeutic recreation specialist….can I have fun here? If you aren’t having fun, why are you doing it? If you aren’t having fun, then on some level, are you being truly passionate about what you do? And the correlate to that is… you’re not having fun unless you are falling down. (my snowboard experience)
Working in the fundraising profession values rule the day. The four principles of values-based leadership is our handbook, both in leading our team and in working with our constituents. We must understand why we come to work everyday and why we believe in what we are asking others to support. We must be able help others identify all the possible gift options that meet both our organizations need, but more importantly, their personal needs. And we must appreciate the differences and qualities in all those we work with, internally and externally.
Last, the final quote puts a nice bow on the whole concept.
I like the mention about the value of fun. Leading isn’t meant to be a dreadful experience, like in all things it’s important to have “fun” in doing them, which doesn’t of course mean not being serious about what you do.
Adding value. Adds to your relationship.
This article is great! I especially like the 4th principle of Genuine Humility, and I completely agree that this must be present in true and lasting leaders.
So many leaders lose this quality as they rise through the ranks. I see it happening across the boar – in businesses, in churches and other non-profit organizations, in government… Perhaps this book would make great required reading for some of the training and leadership programs within companies.
I totally agree on starting within oneself, as a person’s values make the person, and actions speak for the person.
Clarification of values gives one long term perspective, which in turn makes short-term decision making speedy and decisive.
Great quote. One to keep in mind when making career decisions – if in order to move ahead you’re forced to act in your own interest ahead of the team’s interests, you may want to consider a different organization to work in.
“I want to make a difference with my life – by treating others with respect and never focusing on my own needs ahead of the goals of my team or the organization”
This string has been really good to read. It is really amazing to see what others are doing to become great leaders. I hope that I will be able to make a difference in the lives of others.
Dan, I believe the chief characteristic of a leader is impact. Not how much money one made, rather “how many lives did I change?”
Dan, great site and great tweets! I recently started following you on twitter – thanks for the motivation! I really like the quote about self confidence!
Leading by our values results in a number of consequences:
1. We have a clear North Star by which we can chart our goals, strategy, and accomplishments;
2. We attract people who work from the same values, which should (ideally) create good alignment within an organization towards business goals, as well as create a positive organizational culture;
3. We’re happy in our own skin as our work life aligns with what is true to us.
Clarity, peace of mind, a sense of direction–what’s not to like in leading by our values?
Values absolutely should determine what we do. The biggest question we all face, however, is what are the correct values? We talk about change, but change to what? Too often the discussion ends with the simple conclusions “Lead with values”, “Brind about change”. Too often, what we wind up with is no better, if not worse than before. I suggest we all start asking ourselves about what are true and real values. Sadly in our society of relativism, too many assume there are no truths any more. And, if that is the case, we will find no true values. That is why I refuse to accept the supposition of relativism. I urge any leader to self-analyze your beliefs on this topic and see whether you agree. I’ll look forward to any thoughts on the matter.
Lik.ing it ! great advice you’ve included so far… would love the book “)
Love the thought about bring positive change to a team and organization. At its core, this means bringing positive change to the lives of individuals, and healthy individuals make healthy teams…healthy teams make healthy organizations.
Really good reminders, so obvious but something that people need to remind themselves again, and again, and again, in this busy day and age. And the part about fun is key. Life’s too short to not have fun 🙂
Great article, I always try to look at all sides of the situation, thinking outside your own self is a crucial part of any leader. I would love a copy of your book, and any insight to help my blog and its followers.
Agree with the advice of asking ‘Can I have fun here.’ It is important to have fun with what you do, if not you can not put your all into it.
I just started coaching and these leadership lessons really help me learn how to be a good coach. I know leadership as an athlete and a teammate, but not as a coach, in a more business like situation.
Finding the right combination of head, hands and heart is a leadership fundamental for me. I often think that use of heart is missing in organizational agendas.
The four principles for value-based leadership are commendable and worth practicing. I am particularly touched with genuine humility and self-confidence factors.
Again, specific comments and advice of Harry as ‘Leaders must shift their focus from success to significance’ and ‘Choose opportunities that allow you to grow and learn’ speak the secrets of his success.
Really, great leaders are self-made with strong determination and good values imbibed right from an early stage of career. Precisely, it’s the professionalism with human touch can make a good leader.
I value Harry’s advice, but how would Harry influence the BODs to make room for his value based principles when share holder value is the montra?
Great question regarding Board of Directors. During my discussion with Harry we did discuss a short-term cp long-term business orientation. He talks some about that in his material on balance.
In addition, Harry’s book has a major section on “Essential Elements of A Values-Based Organization.” I’m not saying it totally answers your question but it is very useful. I didn’t emphasize that part of the book because most of my writing is on leadership development and I focus more on individuals, not org. dev.
Harry was spot on with finding places where one could add value. I applied for my current job based on the mission of the company and find ways every day that I can add value to the workplace and to the lives of team members. One of my personal goals is to mentor and grow my team members into better positions.
The four principles for value based leadership are all thought provoking, but for me the first one – self reflection – gives me pause. While I think I am doing a decent job with the other principles, I am not so sure how well I am doing with this one. Self reflection for me occurs mostly in the car because I do alot of long distance driving and thinking. I’ve never taken a retreat of any kind, but I will be giving consideration as to how I might do so on perhaps a smaller scale.
I always enjoy reading LF. Thanks!
Great career advice. Few C-suite Execs ask. “Can I have fun here?”. That speaks to seeking the intrinsic value of the work and experience – not just the extrinsic rewards ($$) from running a major corporation.
Great post. Thank you.
This post made me think of Dave Ramsey’s Simulcast last Friday on Entre-Leadership. How real leadership is servant leadership. Servant leadership is like an upside down triangle where the people you are leading are above you. Every decision and direction is always with the mindset, how does this empower or improve those in my team. The decision is never based on how the question: “How can I benefit from making them do this?”
I think strong leaders care about the success of those following them. And when you do, they are ready to follow you through anything. The challenge is to be a servant leader instead of a boss. The question we should ask ourselves is this: “Am I up for the challenge?”
Thanks for sharing!
Great Platform Dan, thanks
Values based leadership…”easy said than done”.
So many people talk about values, from politicians to business leaders, from companies to nations. And they are right to talk values since they are the building blocks of excellence.
Still when you go deeper (and here I talk from experience) the talk (values) is not same as the walk (behaviours).
Values based leadership simply means:
“We put the actions where our mouth is” or more politely “we walk the talk”- we call this integrity. But is it so simple?
Listen to an enlightened politician talking, they will mention values 10 times. Or visit a website of a company and you will see nice value list.
Often the biggest polluters say that they values care for the environment. Banks say on the websites that they value and respect their customers. Do I have to remind you of what happened with this banking value some time ago.
But than if you really want to know the values YOU MEASURE THEM if the company CEO allows of course. Than you have the real picture.
If you can’t measure them you can’t manage them”.
So don’t be easy fooled by the powerful meaning of the words “values based leadership” because unless values are manifested in action they are as good as crap.
See the USA national values for 2010 http://www.valuescentre.com/uploads/2010-09-16/USA%202010.pdf
It you want to know what are your values as a leader measure them before saying more: http://www.skyisthelimit.org/LVAeng.html
If you want to know your company or national values measure them again http://www.skyisthelimit.org/CVAeng.html.
Values are the building blocks of our culture
IF WE DON’T CHANGE OUR CULTURE, WE WILL NEVER ACHIEVE OUR BUSINESS OBJECTIVES
Kees Kruythoff CEO Unilever* Brazil. http://www.slideshare.net/vikunovski/unilever-brazil
The difference between a good company and a great company is often the level of aligned values in their culture.
Often the best way to blow millions (sometimes) billions of dollars is to create your business strategies without knowing your values/culture.
More on “Values based leadership” and corporate culture transformation read Richard Barret Book “Liberating the corporate Soul”
I agree with these points: Knowing oneself, balance and moderation, confidence and humility. No leader can truly lead without these. Thanks for posting this!
It is great to see such a simple and true defination of self confidence.
Really great to see having fun in there, little else will make you bounce out of bed in the morning to get to work.
Who would think a high impact leader would put fun on the list?
Interested in the idea of how to add most value. Always found this exists best when strengths are focused on and maximised rather than spending undue time trying to fix weaknesses
I couldn’t agree more. Focus on strengths.
Very inspiring – thanks for the post!
Attitude determines altitude.
The way to positively affect one’s attitude is to hold true to core values.
No point in doing anything unless it is fun and you learn by doing it!
My business is stretching me, but doesn’t worry me and I enjoy it every day. I want to keep working at it to perfect it!
Personal development is something that I only got into 18months ago, wish I had had it the other 39 years!!
I just begun my MBA coursework and the first class focuses on leadership and how the team is encouraged through the leadership. Harry Kraemer provides some powerful points that will help with organizational effectiveness. The book is necessary for effective leadership growth.
To me, values based leadership is the same as ‘authentic leadership’ – it’s about being who you truly are in your role as a leader. A values based leader shares their values as well as their vision with their team and lives by those values in every conversation and with every decision they make. A values based leader is someone I want to work for… As long as their values are congruent with mine!