Ginni Rometty: IBM CEO on Leadership, Power, and Adversity | Lex Fridman Podcast #362 | Summary and Q&A

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March 2, 2023
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Ginni Rometty: IBM CEO on Leadership, Power, and Adversity | Lex Fridman Podcast #362

TL;DR

Good Power is about embracing tension, respecting others, and celebrating progress to lead positive change in our lives, work, and world.

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Key Insights

  • ๐Ÿซก Good power requires embracing tension, respecting others, and celebrating progress.
  • โ“ Inclusion and diversity are crucial for better decision-making and outcomes.
  • ๐Ÿ‘‹ Good power involves ethical responsibility and serving multiple stakeholders.
  • ๐Ÿคณ Mindfulness and self-reflection are important for effective leadership.

Transcript

  • I've had to do plenty of unpopular things. I think anytime you have to run a company that endures a century and has to endure another century, you will do unpopular things. You have no choice. And I often felt I had to sacrifice things for the long term. And whether that would've been really difficult things like, you know, job changes, or reduct... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: What is good power?

Good power involves doing something meaningful in a positive way, embracing tension, respecting others, and celebrating progress.

Q: How did Ginni Rometty learn the importance of diversity?

Through her experiences, Rometty learned that diverse teams bring different perspectives, leading to better outcomes and a more inclusive environment.

Q: How did Ginni Rometty handle the challenges she faced as CEO of IBM during times of revenue decline?

Rometty focused on reinventing IBM and leading a large-scale transformation, divesting businesses and investing in new opportunities like cloud computing and AI.

Q: How did mindfulness play a role in improving Ginni Rometty's leadership?

Rometty practiced mindfulness by being present in the moment, listening actively, and valuing the opinions and feedback of others.

Q: What is good power?

Good power involves doing something meaningful in a positive way, embracing tension, respecting others, and celebrating progress.

More Insights

  • Good power requires embracing tension, respecting others, and celebrating progress.

  • Inclusion and diversity are crucial for better decision-making and outcomes.

  • Good power involves ethical responsibility and serving multiple stakeholders.

  • Mindfulness and self-reflection are important for effective leadership.

  • Transformation and change require patience, persistence, and the ability to navigate trade-offs.

Summary

This conversation with Ginni Rometty, former CEO and Chairman of IBM, explores her experiences running a large company and the importance of good power in leadership.

Questions & Answers

Q: What are the biggest challenges running a company the size of IBM?

The biggest challenges are not in running the company, but in changing it. Knowing what should change and what should endure is essential. Changing how work gets done in a large company is the hardest part.

Q: What parts of IBM did Rometty think should endure?

Rometty believes that the core of IBM should endure, which includes doing mission-critical work that is essential to the world. This means running the infrastructure of the world and providing secure and reliable services.

Q: Did Rometty feel the hinderance of bureaucracy and the need to micromanage as the CEO?

Rometty felt the temptation to fall into bureaucracy and the pressures of speed in the tech industry. She recognized the importance of letting go of control and empowering people to execute. She learned that micromanaging destroys people's confidence, while giving them control builds their confidence.

Q: Is there a time when a leader has to be autocratic and make unpopular decisions?

Rometty believes that there are times when a leader has to make hard and unpopular decisions, especially when running a company for the long term. Sacrifices and changes must be made to ensure the company endures and stays relevant. It's not always a popularity contest.

Q: What is the essence of good power?

Good power is about doing something hard or meaningful in a positive way. It requires embracing tension, respecting others, and celebrating progress. Good power is being in service of something and creating unity rather than division.

Q: What is the right balance between showing the way and helping people find the way?

The right balance is to show the way in areas of values, value-based decisions, and relationships with clients. It is important to role model learning and prepare to be present in the moment. People should be allowed to find their own way while being guided by their leaders.

Q: Did financial stress and desperation play a role in Rometty's drive and success?

Rometty's financial struggles in her early years taught her that there is always a way forward, and that taking care of herself is essential. Financial stress can motivate and push individuals to work hard and find solutions.

Q: What is the essence of Rometty's book 'Good Power'?

The essence of 'Good Power' is about leading positive change in our lives, work, and the world. It explores the importance of embracing tension, respecting others, and celebrating progress. It emphasizes the power of being in service of something and creating unity.

Takeaways

Ginni Rometty's insights highlight the challenges of running a large company and the importance of good power in leadership. She emphasizes the need to embrace tension, respect others, and celebrate progress. Rometty's experiences show that financial struggles can drive determination and the ability to take care of oneself is empowering. Ultimately, being in service of something and creating unity are key aspects of good power.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Ginni Rometty, former CEO of IBM, shares insights on leadership and power in her book 'Good Power.'

  • She emphasizes the importance of being in service of others and embracing tension to bridge divides and unite people.

  • Rometty highlights the value of diversity and inclusion, as well as the need to navigate the trade-offs and challenges of good power.

  • Throughout her career, she learned the significance of honoring promises and building strong relationships with clients.

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