Monday, February 8, 2010

Interview with Susan Docherty of General Motors

In this week's New York Times Corner Office, Susan Docherty of General Motors is interviewed. I always like to highlight the female executives from this feature, and here are a few of my favorite quotes from this piece.

On where to sit in meetings:
I always sit at a different chair. Because when I was in different roles in this company, I saw a lot of leaders sit in the same chair, think the same way and talk to the same people. And I said to myself: “When I become a leader, and I have a big team, I’m not going to play favorites. I want to be a dynamic leader.” And I think being disruptive, and not always being predictable, is healthy.
 On inclusiveness:

In terms of my style, I’ve had to work hard at being inclusive. I may have an opinion, and I may already know where I want the answer or the decision to go. But I make my team members feel valued by asking them: “What do you think? What would you do? What would your idea be?” And I don’t do that to keep people on their toes. I do it because I often get new insights and new ideas from people who are looking at things with a fresh set of eyes.

 On building diverse teams:

I like building teams with people who come from very different backgrounds and have very different experiences. I don’t just mean diverse teams, in terms of men and women or people of different color or origin. I like people who have worked in different places in the world than I have because they bring a lot more context to the discussion. That’s something that I value a tremendous amount.
I make sure that when I’m looking at people for my team, it’s not just what’s on their résumé — their strengths or weaknesses or what they’ve accomplished — but it’s the way they think. I can learn twice as much, twice as quickly, if I’ve got people who think differently than I do around the table.