Bob's Gutsy Leadership Blog

Learning from the Tough Guys!

Once a year at a prestigious hotel, H J Heinz, the catsup company, has held a Chairman’s Leadership Meeting, a get together of its top management team.  Several months ago, it held the 2013 event and 10 days before it was to happen, it was announced that Heinz was being acquired by Warren Buffett and 3G, a private equity firm with Brazilian roots that also controls Anheuser Bush and Burger King. 3G is known for its absolutely draconian approach to cost and personnel management.

Recently Fortune Magazine reported that the leadership conference went on as scheduled only the content was a big surprise.  At the session, the new CEO began by discussing his “dream” for the new Heinz.  Right after that, participants were summoned, in 15 minute increments, to a conference room where the new CEO interviewed them and then informed them whether they had a job at the new company.  When the smoke cleared, eleven of the top twelve executives were gone.  They were replaced by people who either worked for them or by executives who had previously worked at other 3G owned companies.  The survivors were told a jet would be waiting for them the next morning to fly them back to the home office in Pittsburgh to begin work for the new Heinz.

3G used a similar process at Burger King, where virtually every member of headquarters staff had a fifteen minute one-on-one interview with the CEO.  The same format was followed for everyone:  arrive with one piece of paper answering three questions:  What have you done for the company?  What can you link to driving sales traffic or relevant financial metrics?  What suggestions do you have for the company?

While there are many stories of rude behavior by 3G with respect to personnel, you have to admire their focus on end results.  Putting all the gruesome anecdotes aside, a leader needs to think about these three issues constantly in regard to the impact his or her organization is having:

1.) What have you done for the company? Each part of the organization exists to serve the greater good and exactly has that being accomplished?

2.) What can you link to driving sales traffic or relevant financial metrics? Just how have your personal efforts impacted the business?

3.) What suggestions do you have for the company? All of us should be constantly focused on improving the overall impact and efficiency of our organization.

On the other hand, there is no doubt 3G could benefit from a dose of charm school!

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