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The Leadership Podcast

The Leadership Podcast

Why do we do this?

We interview great leaders, review the books they read, and speak with highly influential authors who study them.

How we do this?

#1 We interview great leaders.
#2 We review the books great leaders read and write.
#3 We have fun!

Feb 24, 2021

Jim Hemerling is a leader in Boston Consulting Group’s People & Organization and Transformation practices. He has co-authored numerous publications on transformation, organization effectiveness, and culture including, TRANSFORMATION: Delivering and Sustaining Breakthrough Performance, and Globality: Competing with Everyone from Everywhere for Everything. Jim is also a coauthor of BCG’s book, “Beyond Great,” which describes how the world has been transformed due to social tension, economic nationalism, and technological revolution. Business leaders are encouraged to go beyond great and “adopt a radical new playbook—one that helps their companies become resilient in the face of even the most volatile situations.” On this episode, Jim discusses 9 Strategies for Thriving in an Era of Social Tension, Economic Nationalism, and Technological Revolution.


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Key Takeaways

[2:55] Leaders are well-intentioned, but these intentions can get squeezed out by metrics, the need for profit, and more.

[5:40] With a lot of disruption happening in our lives, people need purpose; people need to feel like they’re working towards a fulfilling future.

[8:05] It’s true that during hard times, there have to be layoffs, which sounds contradictory when you “put people first.” Jim explains how people-focused companies think about letting people go.

[12:15] There are three forces that are disrupting the world.

  1. The force of social tension.
  2. Economic nationalism.
  3. Technological revolution.

[17:20] Great is no longer good enough.

[19:25] Investors are going to demand more than just returns from the companies they invest in.

[23:25] Consumers want to put their money where their mouth is and support companies that are environmentally conscious.

[27:45] Capitalism is still a force for good, but it has to be directed properly.

[30:35] Companies are going beyond just the “superficial purpose.” They’re walking the walk, and proving it.

[34:15] It’s a tough balance for a leader to stretch people’s talents without breaking them. Jim shares what leaders need to be thinking about when managing this fine balance.

[40:45] Leaders need to commit to really understanding the day-to-day lived experiences of their employees.

[42:40] Transformation is no longer an one-off event. In today’s world, it’s “always on.”

[44:45] Listener challenge: Celebrate your wins today and then think about action steps on how you can go beyond great.


Quotable Quotes

  • “If you think about putting people first, you’re going to think about not just that employee showing up at work, but what does their full life look like and how do we help them cope with the full-life experience.”
  • “The very fundamental thing that businesses thrive on is the basis of capitalism, but what we’re seeing over the last few years are major forces against that.”
  • “The term ‘globalist’ now in many circles is actually viewed as a negative term.”
  • “Employees are increasingly saying, ‘It’s not enough. I’m not going to work for a company that isn’t delivering on a real, tangible purpose.’”
  • “We used to think of transformation as a one-off event. Those days are gone. Companies need to embrace ‘always-on’ transformation.”


Resources Mentioned