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Face-to-Face Leadership

This month, as part of Soundview’s Executive Insights video series, our Senior Editor Andrew Clancy interviewed the President and Publisher of AMACOM, Hank Kennedy. The focus of the interview was face-to-face leadership and Hank had some great insights from his years as a leader in the publishing industry.

  • Walking around – we’ve heard about “managing by walking around” and Hank takes this literally. Each day he gets around the office, seeing what his people are doing. He stresses the importance of connecting with people on a personal level. Email and social media just won’t do it.
  • Employee Retention – Hank notes that “if you don’t like the people you work with, you’re going to change jobs” and so he sees face-to-face contact as essential for employee retention. When interviewing for new positions, Hank looks for smart people. He says “You can teach smart people anything.”
  • Motivation – Hank says that while the carrot works to help keep people, the stick no longer does. You can’t abuse people because they’ll just leave, no matter how bad the latest employment figures. At AMACOM they have regular Town Hall meetings where people report on what’s happening in their department. The CEO also has monthly lunches where he brings together 12 people for a bag lunch around the table.
  • Conflict – Kennedy distinguishes between two kinds of conflict, personal and systems. With personal conflict between people, he believes that they just need to grow up and work it out. He has been known to invite both parties to lunch and then not show up. “They just need to talk,” He quips. With systems conflict, he encourages people to sit down and talk through all of the issues honestly. Sometimes there’s resistance to a new system because people think they’ll no longer be needed. So these concerns need to be aired. Hank compares it to an iceberg, where only 15% appears on the surface. You need to see the whole iceberg.
  • Advice for young executives – when asked what advice he would give his younger self as he entered the workforce right out of college, he talked about work-life balance. The tendency is to work too hard, so that relationships outside of work fall apart. He believes in leaving time for family and life.

Hank Kennedy offered a great set of observations with really practical advice – well worth the time to view the whole video. If you would like to enjoy this and other video interviews, they are all available as part of our Premium Online Subscription. In addition, we also produce an Executive Edge newsletter with in-depth coverage of corresponding skills.

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