Thoughts on Leadership: Omaha, Change and an Exchange with The Oracle

Last week my travels found me in Omaha, NE attending the Berkshire Hathaway Energy January 2017 Executive Leadership Conference and related workshops. More than 350 officers and managers from throughout the enterprise attended the three-day event, which included cross-business panel discussions and presentations related to key challenges and opportunities.

Panel discussions centered on managing competitive risk, modernizing assets, reducing our environmental footprint, enhancing cybersecurity plus an overview of political and economic effects on our businesses – all great material.

I also loved the interactive Leading Change Workshop, which leveraged the creative input of participants for greater understanding of the impact of change on people and for leading changes to meet continuous goals.

Still, without question, the highlight of our meetings came Tuesday afternoon when Berkshire Hathaway Energy Chairman and CEO Greg Abel conducted an interview with Warren Buffett. The session lasted about 60 minutes but we could have listened to Mr. Buffett for hours. He seemed all-knowledgeable with important perspectives on every question. At the same time, he was straightforward, witty and positive.

When the interview concluded Mr. Buffett remained for questions from the audience. I wasn’t going to miss this opportunity so I quickly stepped up to the microphone. Admittedly, I was a little nervous but I got the words out — a question relating to Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices’ interaction with other Berkshire Hathaway companies.

Mr. Buffett gave me a welcoming smile and carefully answered my question, making eye contact with me the entire time.

The moment was not lost on me and never will be.

What’s the message? Very simple. Leaders, no matter who they are, must take the time for the people they lead. They listen, process and respond with respect and, in the process, enrich and grow their entire organization.

GINO BLEFARI is CEO of HSF Affiliates LLC. You can follow Gino on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

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