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News & Blogs: Executive Leaders Forum

‘Stop expecting order,’ Target’s Ward advises

Thursday, July 25, 2013   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Barbara Francella
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Great leaders embrace the unexpected -- and cause the unexpected when change is needed, Laysha Ward, president of community relations for Target Corporation, told the 300 senior executives attending the Network of Executive Women Executive Leaders Forum, July 23-25 at Terranea Resort outside of Los Angeles.

"I suggest one overarching idea: Stop expecting order,” Ward advised during her keynote address, July 24. "When we talk about being bold and authentic, we need to talk about leading when things are unexpected and embracing the unexpected with the right combination of preparation, grace and grit instead of fear.”

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Ward shared her personal story of how a part-time job on the sales floor of Marshall Fields in Chicago ignited a passion for retail – and prompted her to change career directions.

"By taking that job while awaiting a Peace Corps assignment, I took one step toward my future without knowing it,” Ward said. "We have all had early career movements that put us on a career path to get where we are today. With the right combination of preparation and improvisation, we can take advantage of the opportunities placed before us.”

Ward detailed the recent strategic shift in Target’s approach to corporate giving, to one that supports better education of America’s youth, and how that caused company’s leaders to prioritize certain efforts and resources, while de-prioritizing others -- a process that called for tough decisions. "We can’t assume what made us successful in the past will make us successful in the future,” Ward said. "And we need to understand that disruptive change is easier for some than for others. Some people on my team need more time and support to adjust to change – that is just reality. It’s not good or bad, it just is.

"We all deal with stress in our own way; what is important is we respect and meet people where they are and respect ourselves for who we are.”


Laysha Ward