A couple of weeks ago, I attended a pre-MBA boot camp event hosted by Citigroup in New York. It was the capstone event that finished off my yearlong process with MLT. I spent one of the mornings with Citigroup’s subsidiary Citi Cards and was fortunate to hear 40-year old CEO Paul Galant give a talk. Boy was he sharp. There were about 100 of us there, and Paul thrived in front of the crowd. He talked lot of about leadership and the turbulent times in the financial services industry. His style was charismatic and sincere, and he often referenced the idea getting through to the “hearts and minds “of your workers.
I’ve often heard the phrase “Great leaders win over the hearts and minds of others.” What’s interesting about the phrase is that the word heart comes before the word mind in that phrase. I don’t think it’s a mistake that it was created this way. The heart is what a person believes, dreams about, values, and is committed to. When you can touch someone on that level, then you can become a better leader.
In my experience, this is not often emphasized in today’s business world, where the bottom line is king and where analytics and process usually trump values, teamwork, and inspiration. As an MBA student and business person, I can’t argue with things like bottom line or with P&L, but I would definitely debate that being profitable in the long run is as much about good leadership as it is about cutting costs and doing analysis.
I liked Paul a lot, and I agree with his philosophies about running an organization. Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough of that experience at my last firm. When I graduate in 3 years, I hope to work for a firm that values inspirational leadership and looks for that ability in its firm leaders and in the people it recruits. Stay tuned to find out how things turn out.