Frank Blount’s Leadership Adventures and Lessons Learned

So, Frank’s wife said “yes” to the opportunity! I hope you know what I’m talking about, and if not, CLICK HERE.

He had been in Australia a lot on business-trips, so it wasn’t a too foreign country to him. He was invited to come and explore the job, but…. as an UNDERCOVER.  Why? The companies were merging at that time, and it was important to keep the current CEOs out of it. So, Frank could not use the office at the company as two current CEOs of merging companies didn’t know about Frank’s existence at all. Thus, Frank had a suite set up at a hotel, where he had a table and all appointments were scheduled with all people whom he had to meet, right there at that hotel-suite. His main goal was to help key-people understand ”we can’t stay where we are”, as he said.

The first step was to establish a good benchmark to control company’s expenses around the world. Frank used an outside company to produce the data to establish the benchmarks for each departments separately: HR, Legal, Marketing, Sales etc. Above you will find  the exact data he used back in 1994-1995 to persuade his team. Frank carried this data with him everywhere, presenting it to people with the aim to communicate that f they did not take significant steps toward positive change in the nearest future, the company would be eaten alive…

The major challenge of Frank’s new leadership-position was that out of 93,000 employees at Telstra only 50 were not members of the union… even executives were members of the union… He recalls this: “I was sitting in my office on the 45th floor face to face with Dough during that winter…  and I remember seeing my own reflection in a window…. I looked at myself in a window and told myself: Frank, I dont even know how to do it…”…

Frank was trying to work with the union, but after a year of no progress at all, he gave up. He took a different approach: 11 of his executives and him personally were taking one day out of each week to go out to each out 5,000 locations and talk to people. They did it for years. They’d have an HR person with them, they’d take email addresses for each attendee, they would aim to answer all questions employees asked, right there, and if no answer was found right away, they would e-mail the needed information to the person who needed it within 24 hours. Frank oughted to win the minds and hearts of people, and he did…

I asked Frank Blount, what were 3 major lessons he had learned from his leadership adventures at Telstra. See his responses:

  1. Learn to trust your own gut – there’s always limited time to think when making decision, so trust yourself
  2. Utilize the power of communication – it takes a lot of repetition to get your message out there and persuade people
  3. Get rid of resistant people asap – “you’ve got senior people who don’t buy in, you don’t have time to rehabilitate to it, so don’t delay with getting rid of them” Frank said.

Another question asked was this: What advice would you give us as future CEOs?

You need a group of people who undestand HR, Operations, Engeneering, Marketing, Sales and have unique experience to be good generalists. Also, you need specific experts, who worked forever in just one of these fields. It takes both to achieve success.

I myself had a broad range of experiences when took the position at Telstra. If you work in a company now, get an opportunity to see and explore the big picture. It’s hard to become a CEO, if you only always worked in Accounting or Marketing. Get a variety of experiences, cross-functional experiences.

Wow! That is great information, isn’t it!!! I hope you like reading about our amazing guest-speaker Frank Blount, whom we had a privilege to her in our Leadership class at Robinson College of Business.

One last note: now Frank is back to GA State and serves on the Board of Advisors of Robinson College of Business.

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One thought on “Frank Blount’s Leadership Adventures and Lessons Learned

  1. […] I wrote two blogs about our Leadership class presenter W. Frank Blount, whom we read a case study about and whom I personally admire greatly? Well, imagine if you wrote a […]

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