Gap International’s Leveraging Genius Conference began Monday in Scottsdale, Ariz. Nearly 200 global executives and their teams from multiple industries and cultures have come together in a week-long journey to discover and leverage the origins of their own great performance (SmartBrief recently interviewed Gap International co-Chief Operating Officer Bob Rothman). The following excerpts come from Gap International’s in-conference interview with Jaime Graña, managing director of Diageo Mexico, about the business effects of the work under way.
As a business leader today, what are some of the main business challenges people are facing?
One challenge is how to grow people — to grow them faster than the pace that the business grows.
The second one is to manage the context of the business — why you’re doing what you’re doing — in a way that is favorable for the business, making that context more important than the circumstances you face.
With what you’ve learned so far, how might a leader address those issues?
People are usually not aware of the impact they have. They do not know how they can create the space for people to develop and for the business to grow. In the case of growing people, I can see a way to intervene in the development of people’s awareness of these things and impact people’s capabilities to manage situations and to really bring forward creative, effective solutions.
And what is the business advantage of that kind of awareness? What advantage do you get as a leader?
Well, the moment you have a coherent and powerful team that is aware of what they want to accomplish, how they want to work together, and [their] impact on each other and on the surroundings — then that is an agile, united, effective team. You are going to achieve things that you probably have thought were not probable or achievable. So, it’s a big advantage. You will outgrow the market. You will achieve things faster.
Then what strikes you about this whole notion of genius?
Well, the first thing is that through the development of awareness you can see the genius in yourself and the genius in others. I think it is very powerful to be able to define and create myself — that I am constantly changing, that I can define who am I based on what I tell myself.
Another thing is discovering what I have, what I bring, the spark and the genius that I can leverage and maximize. You can also see yourself as a white canvas. When you leverage your genius, you can also create further genius for yourself.
What tangible solutions can you see going forward?
For me, I think the expression is, “Be at our best!” What I am taking from this is the possibility of being at my best most or all of the time by relating to myself as my genius. We would be at our best as a team. That should open the possibilities for achieving things that we have never thought of.
Is there anything that you are thinking about taking on as challenges or commitments that you weren’t thinking about before you engaged in the conference?
I don’t know because, on the one hand, we have already been working on how to move from a “team of stars” to a “star team,” and I think that genius could make a “star team” from a different league, let’s say. So we would be the team that would take us to the majors.
I personally think that, in our case, Diageo Mexico can be the fastest-growing business that everybody looks up to in the sense of how we do things and who we have become: the most celebrated business, the most efficient, the most admired.