‘Stop expecting order,’ Target’s Ward advises
Thursday, July 25, 2013
Posted by: Barbara Francella
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.”