Preaching good music to the choir, UPS’s HR VP Lea Soupata gave her three suggestions for other leaders today at a Linkage HR conference in Palm Springs:
1) Know the business. Soupata started out as a driver. ?I wasn?t a great driver, but I was a driver,” she says. “Not everyone can start [computer] programming but you can understand the issues.”
You can be “great people-people but if you don?t know finance, you can?t be a strategic business partner.” She wishes she had a finance foundation earlier on.
2) Succession planning needs to be “instituionalized.” It can’t be only when there’s money for it. She gives the example of Alexander the Great conquering the world and then leaving no clear successor upon his death. “If he had a successor, we?d all be speaking Greek now,” she jokes.
3) Be with people in person. Organizations, she says, are getting too far away from face-to-face communication because of Blackberries and IMs.
Also: she says many of the recent corporate scandals could be avoided if a climate in companies was created in which employees feel valued and have “someone to go to if something’s not right. … people need to feel they have an advocate, somebody will stand up for them. Somebody has to stand up for what?s right.”