Thank you to the 1,400 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 questions!
I hope reading
7 Questions with Rob Condon
helps you in your leadership.
7 Questions with Rob Condon
Name: Rob Condon
Current title: Founder
Current organisation: Provinces Consulting
30+ years of experience and expertise across industries, verticals, and management roles from start-ups to Fortune 100 companies. I thrive on challenge and complexity and adding or creating value by using all my experience and expertise but also by continuous learning, adopting and adapting while being a servant leader. I’ve conducted business with companies in 10 countries and been to more than 25 for exploration and culture.
I'm a son, a brother, a husband, a father, an uncle and a friend and a lover of the world, not so much what it offers as stuff and things but what it offers in wonderment and endless exploration.
1. What have you found most challenging as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise?
Culture. Leaders drive culture or have a culture whether they know it or not.
Good people can operate in negative cultures for a time but eventually they and the business will suffer for it.
Changing a negative culture in a large enterprise is somewhat possible in smaller units (be the right culture in your role and it will spread) but until there is a mandate from the top and well established and constant communication of expectations, results will come in the form of Pyrrhic victories or at another cost and talent that remains will stay for cyclical or fleeting reasons.
A wise man, Walter Taylor, taught me at a not so young age that leaders drive culture, culture drives behavior and behavior drives results.
One of the best insights I've been given.
2. How did you become a CEO or executive of a large enterprise? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I became an executive of a large enterprise by relationships, opportunities and chances.
I worked as a legal assistant, my first job out of college where my oldest sister was an attorney. She's a good big sister!
Next job was a legal assistant. for one of the largest law firms in the world. Brought to me by a friend from college.
Attorneys I worked with from that firm left to start up a competitive telecommunications company and asked me to come along with a much higher level of responsibilities. I love stretch roles.
That led to my first start up from the ground up for experience from a friend with a venture capital firm and that's where I really gained the humility of 'do it all and if you don't know how, figure it out' conditioning.
Another friend was the CFO for a business unit in a large bank and having negotiating experience with the Bell Co.s and perfect timing led to a stretch opportunity running a $2B strategic sourcing unit focusing on technology, then outsourcing and contingent workforce globally.
An internal 'client' asked me to join the risk and compliance group focusing on global 3rd parties. Another stretch and continuously changing role.
A gentleman who used to work for me at that Bank connected me with a role at a large BFSI and 14 interviews later was given the opportunity to run a part of what would evolve from procurement to global services delivery. Having a chance to be part of that transformation is priceless.
I was afforded the opportunity to advance and experience a new culture and environment through a 20 year recruiting relationship by becoming the CPO of a bank holding company and all its individual affiliates which was exciting just for the change needed.
Now I am helping senior managers and companies across the globe with challenges of culture, strategy, operations, process, talent management and innovation.
More to come!
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
'Put your own mask on first', say the airlines.
If you want to be your best for others over time you must be the best for yourself.
Health and fitness with nutrition and meditation and prayer before even looking at the phone has become very important.
If it can't wait 30 or 60 minutes there should be someone you trust to handle the immediate fire until you can jump in and help or they should be buzzing you continually. I have a ringtone for just a few people that if they call at odd hours I know it's important. The job is 24/7. Your time and energy isn't.
With a job that knows no borders, time management is a challenge.
Days at the larger enterprises were spent with meetings early to inspire with a quote or a story from anyone on the team, understand the challenges of the day, triaging, prioritizing, delegating and providing whatever support was needed until stability was achieved, most of the time.
Time with 'clients' and understanding their day's issues as well as strategies and also constantly building and nurturing relationships, up, across, down and all around, internally and externally; Whether to help, get help, gain knowledge or simply enjoy a conversation and build trust.
Sleep is achieved through making sure there is at least a loose bow on things and having a plan thought out for the next day.
Managing your energy is the key to adding value over time to the company, yes, but also to everyone around you, professionally for you and personally.
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
It never ends but you never quit, and you can't do it alone.
It's more of an understanding of life than a project related or corporate imperative related lesson.
It could be professional and project related and also personal life related.
There will always be someone counting on you, do you have some you can always count on?
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?
Endurance; Shackleton's Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing.
A book, largely based on the author's access to the records and diaries of the crew, provides an accounting of leadership at its greatest stress levels and perseverance at its best.
The best leadership lessons not only can be gained from Shackleton and his crew's experience but can easily be bridged to today's large, or small, enterprise.
I read it in two long nights and it was absolutely worth it.
I went into work that new week with a different attitude about what we all were facing.
Not so much that it was less treacherous and dangerous, it was, but that it was just very different and there was a lot on the line for a lot of people based on leadership.
It confirmed things I knew but hadn't fully adopted and also taught me new things about being a leader.
I'll let folks decide whether or not to read it as it's an incredible story on its own right, but a few lessons follow:
Don't underestimate yourself and let no one else do so.
Be ready for significant change without much warning and be the rock in the riverbed.
Don't forget yourself while taking care of others.
Be ok with making difficult decisions, but lead from the front.
There is plenty more. Enjoy!
6. How do you build leadership capacity in a large enterprise?
Develop talent by hiring and taking chances on good, smart people as well as subject matter experts.
Always have a pipeline starting in the undergraduate level.
Develop people who you would grab in a second to come with you into any situation. Try not to be the only way a problem can get solved.
Create a broad and deep succession plan. Have it vetted by peers and other important thought leaders and not just people you are close with.
Focus on diversity. All kinds of diversity.
Give people opportunities and chances. Good people given small opportunities and chances often do great things.
Listen and offer your experience through mentoring formally as well as informally. Be available.
Constantly be mentored yourself and seek ways to add more value and maintain broad and deep relationships.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise so far?
Working in a large enterprise with a unity of mission vs. a unity of command led to a story that I think about and use often.
As a part of this particular company's executive orientation (they offer financial services to primarily the military community and their families) new executives or existing executives are allowed to 'plug in' to their customer service folks, known as MSR's, and hear what needs come in from members, live.
I got connected with an MSR with dual headsets for this purpose and a call came in from a serviceman on active duty in a foreign country on a sat phone.
He called because he got a call from his wife that their power had gone out and she didn't know what to do. It was his first deployment and they were newly married.
She had called the power company and they told her it was because of non-payment and even if she paid it would be at least a day before a service call could occur.
Rather than say he could do nothing other than set up a Bill pay situation, the MSR listens intently while also typing furiously to get all the necessary information about the members, their accounts, history and the like.
The serviceman explained he only had a few more minutes before having to disconnect so the MSR took it upon himself to arrange for a payment with his authorisation to the utility company and get their power back on that same day by explaining the situation and then called his wife after hanging up with her husband to explain everything that happened and how to set up automatic payments and offer budget planning services and more.
The relief in both their voices was poignant and the MSR just took it in stride and graciously let me stay for a few more less complex but no less interesting calls. I stayed in touch with him for my entire time there, and served as a recommendation for his promotion to manager. I was humbled he even asked me.
That's leaders driving his culture (really enabling his personal culture of service to others) that drove his behaviour that drove the member's results.
Happens all day, every day.
Take care of the people and the people will take care of the mission.