Learn To Lead

If it’s true that leaders are made and not born, then Denyvetta Davis believes she’s found the instruction manual. The director of library operations for the Oklahoma-based Metropolitan Library System, Davis recently checked out You Don’t Need A Title To Be A Leader: How Anyone, Anywhere Can Make A Positive Difference by Mark Sanborn (Currency; $14.95). The book explains that real leadership is not defined by title and status but by skill and technique.

The senior-level executive, who oversees the management and operations of 17 libraries, says, “Finding employees to take the lead and advance the organization’s mission is critical in today’s fast-paced, customer-driven environment, where there’s no time to wait for directives from the top.”

Davis credits the book with expanding her view of leadership and providing her with an outline of traits to help identify leaders at every level of an organization. She bookmarked these passages:

Leaders are proactive. They seek out ways to improve the organization’s bottom line and continually ask, how can we work faster, cheaper, smarter?

Leaders think globally. They eagerly perform outside the boundaries of their position or job description to benefit the entire organization.

Leaders focus on outcomes. They concentrate their efforts on the most valuable and most profitable methods that offer the greatest return to the organization.

Mixing Creativity And Innovation
Deregulation of the U.S. electric industry, coupled with empowered consumers who could now choose their power supplier, meant jolting changes for Southern California Edison. “Many of the core competencies we mastered pre-deregulation no longer supported our new customer-focused business model,” says Gregory Kimble, manager of the customer service business unit’s project management team.

“Our success hinged on our ability to generate new ideas and approaches to meet customer needs.” Kimble jump-started the utility titan’s transformation efforts by enrolling in an executive education course, Creativity and Innovation in the Organization, at the UCLA Anderson School of Management. The one-week seminar helped him put these lessons to work:

Insist on empathy. Kimble encourages his team to uncover needs and brainstorm ideas by listening to customers, soliciting feedback, fielding complaints, and culling insightful information from the utility’s call center databases.

Establish context. “Doing something different is not enough; the innovations we recommend must make business sense and deliver value.” Kimble sets clear goals and guidelines for every project. He insists that the team identify the cost, value, and impact of each idea before recommending it.

Mitigate risk. Kimble distinguishes between reversible and irreversible risks and uses specific criteria to evaluate them.
For more information about executive education courses at UCLA, log on to www.uclaexeced.com.

How To Treat A Non-Compete Restriction
In a marketplace steeped with competition and a business environment often staffed with a transient workforce, non-compete agreements have become quite the business norm.

Non-compete agreements or clauses, also known as restrictive covenants, are contracts between the employer and employee that limit the employee’s ability to work for an industry rival within a geographic area for a period of time after quitting or being fired.

“Generally speaking, non-compete clauses have not historically been employee-friendly,” says Courtney Rogers Reid, an