Sunday, November 14, 2010


Shivan S. Subramaniam is charman and C.E.O. of FM Global, a commercial and industry property insurer. Subramaniam offers the following comments and lessons on leadership:

One is that people don't necessarily do things the way you would do them. And if they don't follow precisely the way you think about something, that doesn't necessarily mean that they're wrong. That took some maturity to understand.

But the bigger picture is to make very sure that everybody in the company has the same goal in mind. That was the more important thing I learned over time. It maters less what people do or how they do it, but do we all agree on the goals.

Over the years, that has let to us having very simple goals at our company. We call them "key result areas," or K.R.A.'s. We're multinational - - we've got 5,100 people, 1,800 or whom are engineers. We're very analytical. But we have three K.R.A.'s, nothing terribly fancy. One is on profitability. One is on retention of existing clients. And one in on attracting new clients. That's it.

All of our incentive plans are designed around our K.R.A.'s, and everyone of those K.R.A.'s is very transparent. Our employees know how we're doing. And, most importantly, they understood them whether they're the most senior manager or a file clerk, so they know that, "If I do this, it helps this K.R.A. in this manner."

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