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A Change in Leadership

Whenever C-level execs leave a company there’s a lot that changes… and a lot that stays the same. For those of us in the trenches (and particularly those of us not located in the Chicago area), it’s likely we won’t see a lot of immediate impact on our day-to-day activities. Work goes on.

However, I have a couple of personal thoughts on the executive departures. I’m sorry to see both CEO Ed Zander and CTO Padmasree Warrior go. I can attest to Mr. Zander’s charismatic presence in a room, and his leadership was certainly memorable. He was the first non-Galvin to run Motorola a major change from Christopher Galvin before him (grandson of founder Paul Galvin) and, whatever else went wrong or right, he did a remarkable job re-establishing the Motorola brand with the RAZR, a feat that will continue to pay dividends even as the company moves beyond RAZRs. My first mobile phone was a Motorola in the mid-1990s, but I never thought of it as cool. Mr. Zander proved it’s possible to change perceptions even in a market highly dominated by service providers rather than handset makers.

Padmasree Warrior’s tenure was remarkable in a number of ways. Not only is she highly passionate about technology, but she is particularly good at spreading that enthusiasm around. She was highly visible as Motorola’s CTO, and she reflected positive energy on the company. In her last blog post (no longer on the Motorola site, but still available in Google’s cache), Ms. Warrior discussed her vision of the characteristics a leader should have. Among them, she wrote, leaders need to be teachers who “transfer knowledge expecting nothing in return but the creation of new knowledge.” Specifically she suggested we need teachers to “make synaptic connections, to provide the missing links and to help see patterns emerge out of chaos.” I couldn’t agree more, and I think the concept perfectly describes one of Ms. Warrior’s strengths.

I’ve heard nothing but good about the executives taking over the Motorola CEO and CTO roles, and I look forward to their leadership. Still, it’s worth taking a moment to reflect on the outgoing executives.

Then it’s back to work.

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