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7 Questions with Michael Rai Anderson
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7 Questions with Michael Rai Anderson
Name: Michael Rai Anderson
Current title: CEO
Current organisation: Plugless Power, Inc.
The success of any organization is fundamentally limited if it doesn't know who it is, what it wants to be, or how it gets from one to the other. Businesses are living, breathing entities that have an ego, a super-ego and a core identity. Unfettered team effort is required to align these concepts to achieve any meaningful success. However, any success achieved can be short-lived, if it does not continually maintain market relevance through a durable competitive advantage and/or meaningful societal impact.
To consistently achieve success, each organization / team must have a shared vision and a multi-disciplined strategic plan that innately means something for its employees, its customers and the market by which it operates within. Being a team champion takes more than understanding how to read a balance sheet and P&L statement, it requires passion, creativity, unrealistic expectations, and an unhealthy desire for the team to win.
It is with this professional philosophy that I use to manifest organizational transformations, re-energize teams, rebrand businesses and motivate dynamic team strategies.
1. What have you found most challenging as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise?
Maintaining uniform team passion, enthusiasm and purpose, even in the wake of failures. Each failure is simply an opportunity to learn and to fortify the organizational DNA.
2. How did you become a CEO or executive of a large enterprise? Can you please briefly tell the story?
Despite how trivial it may sound, it comes down to committing to the bigger picture, even when it does not serve your personal interests. Executives must recognize that individual success is the symptom of one's ability to inspire, mentor, and successfully craft a vision for the future. This needs to happen, regardless of where the business came from or where it currently stands.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I wish I could say that I maintain a specific structure. In fact, I would say that good executives can still perform without structure. However, a good executive cannot perform if they cannot prioritize and delegate.
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
Despite how overplayed the sentiment is, leadership is something executives must earn. Having the title is meaningless, unless you have a team that looks to you as a collaborator, co-worker and confidant. Leaders may have the title, but they are simply another member of the team.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
In the last several years I have found myself lacking the needed time to dive into a good book. However, I can say that there were three books that catalyzed by early days as a leader; "Who Moved My Cheese" by Johnson, "Buy Low, Sell High, Collect Early and Pay Late: The Manager's Guide to Financial Survival" by Levin, and "Competitive Advantage" by Porter.
6. How do you build leadership capacity in a large enterprise?
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise so far?
I had taken on a new business that had been struggling many years ago. I was hired by the Board to reorganize the organization from the ground up. This would include rebuilding of the product portfolio, development and/or reorganization of the team, and deployment of new manufacturing processes. After a few weeks of doing what I could to understand the business, I asked to bring the whole organization together.
We got everyone together in a large meeting hall. During this meeting, I formally introduced myself, my management style, and my hopes for the business. Some time was taken to summarize a vision for the business. Toward the end of my introduction I had concluded that, "there are 30% of you that love everything you just heard, there are 40% of you that are on the fence, and there are 30% of you that will never buy into the new vision presented." I then paused and continued, "For those that are already sold, I will do everything I can to prove to you that you made the right decision. All I can ask for is that you provide me with open and candid feedback often. For those of you on the fence, I do commit to you that I will do everything I can to earn your trust. I completely understand your reservations and look forward to hearing about your own thoughts. However, for those of you that are simply not interested in the advancement of the business or evolution of this company's brand, I do commit to you that we will do everything we can to convince you of the benefits of the new vision and collaborate with you about your own perspectives. However, if you do not feel the need to help build a stronger future for this business, we will help expedite your efforts toward using your current role as a means to build your resume for an alternative opportunity."