Gustavo Ballvé on April 8th, 2011
Corporate Strategy, Food for thought, Home, Mental models, Quotes

Certainly not the only source around for interesting interviews with business leaders, but it’s top-notch and we hadn’t discussed it yet. The London Business School’s Business Strategy Review (BSR) magazine/ website has a “World Business Leaders Series” worth spending some time on.

One highlight is the interview with Dr. Chris Gibson-Smith (embedded in this post), Chairman of the London Stock Exchange. We highlight in this post several excerpts worth considering – it’s intended for business in general, but can also be framed for the specifics of investment management.

Here’s the 7:41 video (highlights below):


– His life history is interesting: the balance of science and business shifting over the years, and it clearly influenced the highlight below:

“I’ve worked in half a dozen industries in depth, and I’ve found the same thing wherever I go: every sector has its own technical knowledge, and you have to master that knowledge, otherwise you can’t be in the sector. But above that, the thing that is true particularly as you rise to levels of leadership and senior management, it’s the ability to think and act. The thinking creates the context, the framework, the vision, the intention; but it has no meaning unless you act. But the action has no focus unless you’ve thought. And it’s this balance between deep thought and precise action that produces effective results. — We’d add that this can be true as long as incentives are aligned, and the environment (including the teamwork) is positive and so on – but he mentioned the teamwork part below.

– He then talked about how he was kind of surprised that he was getting successful in business, and continuously so, and the surprise was due to the fact that he was so involved in the day-to-day. So he stepped back to wonder why it happened, and his takeaway is very interesting. According to him, he found in this exercise that one is successful or not “because of the quality of the people you worked with and the way you worked with them. Overwhelmingly it was the way in which you interacted with people that was at the center of one’s ability to contribute. And unquestionably I learned that in business – it’s [also] true in life – and it remains the most important thing about doing business for me.”

– Finally, a very interesting take on his duties as Chairman and leader, which show his specific skill set or strong points (and it makes sense given his “scientific method” past). It may not work for everyone, but it’s his way: I’m emphatically clear on my duties as leader. So I carry an un-assignable responsibility for the future of my organizations. It is not dilutable, but it’s completely shareable. So I think a great deal and then I involve people in the organization and they solve all the questions. My real task is to figure out the questions and then give it to other people to work out the answers, and I think I do that in a repeated pattern wherever I go.”

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