Wednesday, October 29, 2014

People Leadership of ex-Mattel CEO Robert Eckert

While working for a previous management consulting firm, I sought to bolster my grasp of leadership, business and economics and decided to keep a running journal of notes and insights.  So I continue what I began the week before last, that is, capture some of those journal entries here.

Robert Eckert

November 9th 2001

Robert Eckert assumed the top job at Mattel in May 2000, after the failed reign of Jill Barad. He was clear about his mandate:

  • Build brands
  • Cut costs
  • Develop people
He impresses me as a leader whom I can emulate, one whose style fits my own:
He acknowledges his responsibility to stand in front of investors, but at the same time recognizes himself as one of the employees.  He seems comfortable being in the spot light as well as eating in the cafeteria with employees.

He fosters candid conversation by acknowledging underlying issues and putting them on the table - a process he calls “setting the table.” I identified this as one of my key visions for the Training Dept. at ISPP/Chicago. The article as a whole made me reminisce a bit of my tenure as the head of that Dept. 

He defers to others’ expertise, which appears to have gained others’ favor rather well. However, I wonder to what extent he himself will assert more of his expertise as he gets more and more familiar with the company, its culture and people.  

Reference: Where Leadership Starts, by Robert Eckert (2001), in Harvard Business Review (Vol. 79, no. 10, pp. 53-61). 

Eckert retired from Mattel in 2011, after 11 years of such people leadership: Former Mattel Chief Robert Eckert Joins Friedman Fleischer & Lowe.

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