Ali Foughi is an experienced Silicon Valley executive who has adeptly served in various executive management roles. He shares his personal observations and experiences in this 5-part series.
1. Know the Difference Between Managing vs. Leading – Mr. Foughi believes managers “control” while leaders “inspire.” Inspiration brings out the full potential of people. Teams and employees are most innovative, productive, happy, and tend to stay with a company longer when they work in a motivated and inspirational environment—and effective leaders enable such environments.
2. Recruit Great People – To assemble a world class and winning team, one must be able to attract great talent. Experts create innovative solutions and build highly differentiated businesses. In order to attract top-notch professionals, executives need to feel comfortable and surround themselves with great talent because quality attracts quality. Building quality teams takes time, vision, passion, and is critical in the highly competitive and innovative high tech industry. The collective IQ of a team is always greater than that of a single individual, no matter the talent.
3. Domain Knowledge – Ali Foughi believes it is very important for leaders to have, maintain, and develop domain knowledge. As an example, the head of a hospital’s surgery department needs to have a keen understanding of the intricacies of surgical procedures to have the credibility that allows him/her to lead a highly skilled team of surgeons. The same principle applies to leading high technology professionals. It is rather difficult to be a visionary leader if one does not have domain knowledge and vision is like a magnet. It helps to attract, retain, and lead the kind of talent that is required to build a successful enterprise with steady growth.
Currently Vice President of Marketing and Business Development at InvenSense, Ali Foughi is an accomplished executive with over 28 years of experience. Mr. Foughi shares his ideas and observations in this 5-part series.
10. Put Employees First – Great employees create disruptive solutions, which in turn generate shareholder value. There is an argument to be made that if you wish to take care of your shareholders, start with your employees first. Innovative and experienced employees create great solutions. Great solutions help secure new business & customers which in turn generates revenue growth. Shareholders want to see revenue growth with healthy margins over time. So taking care of employees is aligned with the ultimate goal of taking care of shareholders.
11. Have a Steady Approach – Commitment to ‘quality’ and ‘customer satisfaction’ is crucial in the evolution of successful companies with exceptional results over time. This requires a steady approach to growing the business. It may not be a good practice to make opportunistic moves to gain unsustainable market share. If it hurts quality and customer satisfaction, or if it is not sustainable, then it is counterproductive to long term growth. Using a baseball analogy, the odds of getting RBIs (Runs Batted In) are much higher than swinging for the fences. I believe in steady and sustainable growth.
12. Present a United Front – Collaboration must start at the top and be a way of life. It is futile to be preaching unity if the executives are divided. CEOs that cannot get their direct reports to collaborate will have a very difficult time getting thousands of employees, in different divisions, to collaborate. Leading by example and setting the right culture is essential and can’t be replaced by a set of polished slides. Mr. Foughi believes it is important for executives to welcome and encourage opposing views before making key decisions. People open up when they know their views and ideas are heard and genuinely considered.
Currently an executive at InvenSense, a Silicon Valley-based technology company, Ali Foughi is respected for his business acumen. He share his experience in this 5-part series.
4. Communication – Everyone agrees that communication is important in all aspects of life: at home, between friends, and certainly at work. Carving out time to communicate with the greater team is critical to their success. Team members need to understand the big picture, short and long term plans, the team’s progress over the past three months, the key issues they need to focus on over the next three months, and required contributions by each team member toward the overall objectives. Clear and frequent communication helps to focus the team and earn their trust and loyalty. Executives who are less than honest or put spins on corporate actions, will lose credibility and, with that, their ability to lead.
5. Consider the question: What problem are you solving? – Mr. Foughi believes the fastest path to an effective solution starts by asking a simple question, “What problem are we trying to solve?” It is amazing how people have a difficult time articulating a concise answer to this question. The most effective people ask this question often and focus their efforts on turning the problem into an opportunity to solve a fundamental need or otherwise referred to as a problem. The more fundamental the problem, the more disruptive the solution has the potential to be.
6. Eliminating Busy Work – Ali Foughi learned quickly that reading emails and getting sucked into tactical work can take up the entire day, but allow you to accomplish little else. If you are receiving 100 or more emails per day, be selective and choose the most important ones (customers, CEO, anything that gates a project, etc). Read, make a decision, and act on it. Your highest priority is to accomplish significant and strategic results. Don’t let yourself get distracted and diluted.