6 Leadership Lessons From Ursula Burns:” Bold Bets and Back to Basics”

In order to study Ursula Burns' communication style, I watched several videos of her.

It's incredible what we can have access to, now, thanks to the web.

I could even view a brilliant lecture, given by Ursula Burns at Whitman School of Management, Syracuse University, on May, 11th 2008. I felt like I was sitting in front of her, with the audience .

In this video, Ursula Burns shares her views on the challenges and opportunities facing leaders in
corporate America, in Berman Lecture Series.

“Lessons of Leadership: Bold Bets and Back to Basics."

Ursula_Burns speaks2008

It' a long speech (one hour). I just took notes for you via this MindMap of the six points she very clearly made, in order to visualize them and reflect.

Angela Burns' Leadership Map

Six Very Simple Things: Basics!

  • The Power of Communication
  • The Power of Culture
  • The Power of Vision
  • The Power of People
  • The Power of Customer
  • The Value of Leadership

As Angela Burns admits, she doesn't read a lot of business books. That 's why these 6 lessons make so much sense .

These lessons are taken from hard work, great results, dedicated people.

They don't come from leadership theories, but from years of experience. (Ursula Burns entered Xerox as an intern in the summer of 1980!)

No fancy words, Bold Bets and Back To Basics!

What can women and men too,learn from such a successful Role Model?

This applies for this major corporation, but I believe it boils down to the same basics, for a small business,for a team and for an individual.

Imagine you start on a coaching journey:

  • First, start by being blunt honest about who you are: clear communication about where you are NOW.
  • Look at your own "culture", your core values and beliefs.
  • Then  picture yourself at the front page (vision board exercise) "What would you want to read about yourselves? What great work are you going to do?" What do you want to be famous for? How do you want to be remembered?
  • People. "Good people aligned around a common goal could do just anything". Align yourself first with your values,around your vision, and then reach for others. Consolidate the basis.
  • Who are you serving? What's Your Mission?
  • Eventually, be a good leader of your life: consistent, honest,forceful and clear.

You will move mountains.

Next, on Geronimo…Tough New Yorker No Nonsense Communication Style!

  1.  Corporate Fairy Tale
  2.  6 Leadership Lessons
  3. Tough New Yorker No Nonsense Style

Waiting eagerly for your comments and reactions!

8 thoughts

  1. Excellent coverage of a few simple yet essential ‘essentials’ … and love that she doesn’t read business books! ‘Death by expert’ is what some of them can most definitely be called.
    You are just going to have to teach me how to use that minmap software!
    Great blog, Marion…

  2. Excellent post, Marion. Of the many things I agree with Ursula Burns on, one I want to draw attention to is the comment she makes about people “aligned around a common goal can do just about anything”. In business, there’s still this persisting notion that employees are there to simply to carry out the orders of those in charge. What we need to recognize is that employees and their leaders should be viewed as a team working collectively on a shared goal. From that vantage point, work is no longer about making the boss look good, or having employees taking menial tasks off the desk of the leader. Instead, it’s about a team effort to reach that common goal, by having a leader recognizing that their role is to build on the strengths of their employees, while removing the obstacles like bureaucracy and office politics that can slow the team down.
    Great piece, Marion. Looking forward to the next segment inspired from studying this style of leadership exemplified by Ursula Burns.

  3. I think I love this woman…Okay, maybe not quite, but what I do love is the simplicity with which she leads. So often we have this tendency to complicate things because they sound more important that way, but the clarity of her message is there for all to see and act upon. You’ve gotta love that!
    Another great post, Marion! Thank you.

  4. The great leaders I’ve experienced and studied all seem to have the ability to keep things simple. The best strategies are like that, too. Ms Burns was trained as an engineer, she brings that engineering approach to problem solving, I think.

  5. When Ursala Burns took over for Anne Mulchay, who was highly recognized for pulling Xerox up by the bootstraps, I had very high hopes for Ursala. I have kept up with Ursala Burns’ progress in the news and she is steering Xerox well in the seas churned by the storm of the recession. Ursala took over for Anne in May, 2009 and is doing well at the helm. Thanks for such a great display of Ursala’s work and philosophy.

    1. Thank you Robyn for stopping by and commenting. When I “discovered” Ursula Burns, I immediately became a fan of her. Hence the 3 posts that you will find after this one 🙂 Enjoy, and again, thank you!

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