A CEO of Campbell’s Explains the Power of “AND”
Leadership principles that work the best change us the most. Trouble is leadership is situational. That’s why many principles work in one context but not another.
I ask Doug Conant, retired CEO of Campbell’s Soup, to share the universal leadership principle that most changed him.
The genius of “and”:
Doug said moving from “or” thinking to “and” thinking most changed his leadership. He said Robert Schuller, a man he never met, sent him a book about being tough minded and tender hearted. That’s when the genius of “and” began gripping him.
“Or” thinking reflects a scarcity mind-set. Forcing a choice between short-term sales targets and building long term potential is scarcity thinking.
Choosing between tough-minded or tender-hearted limits your potential.
“And” thinking embraces abundance thinking. You don’t have to choose between tough or tender; be both. Be tough on standards and enthusiastic about people. Doug explained the most fulfilling leadership experiences occurr when performance expectations are extremely high and people care deeply for each other.
“And” takes your further than “or”. “Or” thinking limits your potential by creating artificial barriers to creativity, excellence and diversity. “And” thinking creates challenges, opportunities, and innovation.
Wisdom is simple:
When I hung up the phone, I thought how often I’ve been an “either/or” rather than a “both/and” leader.
In the past, I put people who followed me in either/or situations, unnecessarily. I created artificial boundaries based on either/or thinking.
Three letters can change you and your leadership – A. N. D.
What leadership principle most changed you?
How do you express “and” thinking?
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Hi Dan, great post to start off my day. I express “and” thinking in the same vein that I try to always use inclusive words like, we, us, ours. Like you say it signifies abundance and the capability to be more inclusive. I equate “or” to the “yes but” scenario where something or someone is going to be left out or diminished. I have found that including people even when the challenge is outside their scope of expertise fosters organizational unity and collegiality. This behavioral attitude also lends itself to encouraging folks to stretch outside their realm and do random acts of kindness, empathy, work regardless of where in the organization the need arises. It also carries over into one’s personal life where the philosophy and MO will be “give more, expect less.”
Great reminder, Al, of the power of small words like we and us. That’s a failing I have — the Army encourages soldiers to take ownership by using “my and mine” as in “my people,” “my building,” “my helicopter.” It’s great there, where the problem is too much breakage because after all no one owns anything. It’s a hard habit to break now though.
It’s the stories we tell that make the difference. Your story enlightens and lifts.
I love others who haven’t arrived yet… who continue to learn and grow. Those stories change me.
Talk to you soon,
You said, “I have found that including people even when the challenge is outside their scope of expertise fosters organizational unity and collegiality.”
It takes humility to act that way. Pride is a relationship breaker and humility a relationship builder.
You encourage me,
Al is a featured contributor on Leadership Freak. Read his bio at http://leadershipfreak.wordpress.com/al-diaz
I agree with you Al about the ‘yeah, buts’ or maybe just the ‘buts’. With ‘or’ they limit, constrict and jade perspective into a negative focus.
Dan, you prove today that my wife is brilliant. Our inside joke for years has been that she makes everything an “and” question. “Do you want to watch a movie or go for a walk?” “I want to do both.”
I love the whole idea of an abundance mentality, have for years although you state it better than I have. So much badness comes from the idea that there isn’t enough to go around, so for me to get mine you can’t have any. If you get some, then I have to feel bad because there may not be enough left for me.
Applying that to organizational goals as you do reminds me that the extra effort it takes to get to Covey’s win-win solutions is really the pursuit of the AND. I try to encourage that with my team by always asking, in those situations that are starting to go OR, “What do you think they want? Why are they pushing for that course of action?” Anything to get people to start looking at it from the other guy’s position. It’s the corporate version of the “No man left behind” ethic I learned in the military.
Love your strategy for turning situations toward an “outsider” focus.
I’m convinced leadership success depends on shifting from what do I want to what do others want. So easy to say.. 🙂
Hi Greg, that is a great strategy you propose by re-focusing everyone’s lens on what the customer wants and not what we want. I also like your “no man left behind” philosophy. That is very inclusive to be sure and a winning proposal. Lastly the “And” with the spouse, well that is the nature of the beast, it is never enough and we strive to catch up with all of the “And”s which I remind my wife how it is all about the effort and not particularly completion. Every so often that “saves” me. 🙂
Wow. I love this idea. It’s good for everything, not just the workplace. Thanks for sharing!
Thank you Ashley.
Yep, Abundance thinking. I love it. I recently did a speech with one of my points being “similar” to this. I used what if/ why not. this uses similar points and is also “Abundance Thinking”
Thanks for a great post.
“What if/why not” is now on a post-it note on my computer monitor. Thanks, Scott.
Thanks Scott, nicely said.
It’s amazing how simple the concept is. I think people tend to focus more on or thinking because it is easier. And thinking is challenging, but more rewarding and where true creativity and innovation can be found.
I think one challenge of life is keeping simple things simple. It seems we constantly move toward or create complexity. Thanks for your comment.
Interesting! I need to reflect and see if I need to work on this. Good food for thought. Thanks!
Hi Sanjay, Best wishes in your exploration. Dan
I love this post! Great concept, simple and to the point.
Just received my copy of Touchpoints, top of my list to read. (Wish I had stock in Amazon!)
Wonder if a counterpoint to the either/or might be an open-ended, somewhat rhetorical, with pause for effective silence, ‘or?….’ If the person presenting the ‘or’ is locking options, then perhaps it is just their closed perspective. So just keep asking ‘or?. Tough minded or tender hearted or??? Because the traditional ‘or’ is a forced choice, unlock the paradigm and push the envelope and ask over and over…’or?’ Shades of grey not black or white.
Dan, could I include this gtreat piece in my blog with due attribution? Thanks anyways.
Certainly. I hope your readers find it useful. Cheers.
Here it is, Dan:http://ksriranga.wordpress.com/2011/09/11/a-ceo-of-campbell%e2%80%99s-explains-the-power-of-%e2%80%9cand%e2%80%9d/
Thanks v much.