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191: Your Leadership Blueprint with Doug Conant, Founder of ConantLeadership

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Doug-Conant

“Your leadership story is your life story,” according to Doug Conant, globally renowned business leader, bestselling author, and today’s guest. If you find yourself struggling to settle into your own personal leadership style, the key is to look inward – a method Doug developed and has shared the blueprints to. Doug’s experience proves that once you understand your purpose upfront, leading through a crisis like the current pandemic becomes much easier.

Doug Conant has over 40 years of leadership experience, including the most senior level positions at industry giants like Nabisco, Campbell’s Soup, Avon, General Mills, and Kraft. He has made people first leadership practices a priority in his career, and continues his legacy as a champion of “doing well by doing good.”

In this episode, Doug shares how practicing gratitude became a foundation for his personal leadership model early in his career and the unexpected way he saw that energy reflected back to him. He explains the reasons he decided to write his newest book, The Blueprint, and digs into the importance of uncovering your own personal leadership style by first cementing your purpose. 

Doug briefly discusses his dedication to “people first” leadership and how you can hold people accountable while still being compassionate – his “tough minded on standards and tender hearted with people” strategy. Finally, Doug leaves us with a few tangible tips on how to start unlocking our own unique leadership style.

This episode is sponsored by University of Wisconsin Health and Wellness Management, offering online bachelor’s and master’s degrees in wellness management. You can visit hwm.wisconsin.edu for more information. 

Graduates of the program have launched successful wellness careers with healthcare systems, wellness program vendors, community agencies, insurance providers, even the military. Here are some really cool things about UW Health and Wellness Management :

  • Courses are designed and taught by distinguished faculty from the University of Wisconsin, many of whom actively work in the field.
  • UW Health and Wellness Management is also supported by an advisory board, industry experts from corporations such as Children’s Wisconsin, Willis Towers Watson, and the Wisconsin Department of Employee Trust Funds, who offer advice on changing trends in health and wellness so that students are learning the most up-to-date methods.
  • Students often say the flexible, online format is a big factor in their ability to earn a degree. (Our recent situation is an indication of the advantages of online learning.) Although the program is online, you’ll make strong connections with peers and faculty, just as you would on campus.

Consider this from a recent graduate of the master’s program: 

“For a class project in Research Methods for Wellness Programs, our team had six people working in three time zones across four states. Each student’s career path was different. As a result, everyone brought a unique perspective to the project: clinical, legal, advocacy, policy, governmental. It made the project so interesting.”

UW Health and Wellness Management bachelor’s and master’s degrees provide the skills you need to manage comprehensive employee well-being programs that foster healthier lifestyles and promote the value of staying well.  

Turn your passion for wellness into a healthy career with University of Wisconsin Health and Wellness Management. Visit hwm.wisconsin.edu or contact an enrollment adviser by phone, 1-877-895-3276.

Interview Highlights (with timestamps):
  • [8:56] How gratitude became the foundation of Doug’s leadership strategy
  • [16:00] Doug’s near fatal car accident and seeing the impact of his gratitude practice
  • [18:48] Doug’s leadership missteps
  • [23:50] What pushed Doug to write “The Blueprint”
  • [28:22] Finding your own unique leadership style
  • [32:55] Unpacking purpose and how to find yours
  • [39:56] Why “people first” is important to Doug
  • [45:11] Holding people accountable while still being tender hearted
  • [50:04] Doug’s tangible tips
Mentioned in this episode:
Full Bio:

Doug Conant is author of The Blueprint: 6 Practical Steps to Lift Your Leadership to New Heights and is the only former Fortune 500 CEO who is a New York Times bestselling author, a top 50 leadership innovator, a top 100 leadership speaker, and a top 100 most influential author in the world. Doug began his career as an entry level marketing assistant at General Mills and held leadership positions in marketing and strategy at Kraft before becoming CEO and President of Campbell Soup Company.

During his career he also served as President of Nabisco Foods Company, and Chairman of Avon Products. Over the course of his ten years as CEO at Campbell, employee engagement skyrocketed from being among the worst in the Fortune 500 to being world-class as measured by Gallup. As a result of this and other key transformational improvements, Doug led Campbell from beleaguered in 2001 to delivering competitive performance in the top tier of the global food industry by the time he retired in 2011.

After retiring from Campbell Soup Company, Doug still felt called to contribute, to help leaders hone their craft, expand their influence, and change the world, so he founded ConantLeadership: a mission-driven community of leaders and learners who are championing leadership that works. As CEO of ConantLeadership, he takes no salary, and all profits (after covering operating costs) are donated to charitable organizations at the forefront of championing the kind of leadership that can move society forward. He is Chairman of CECP (Chief Executives for Corporate Purpose), Chairman of the Higher Ambition Leadership Institute, and serves on the Board of Directors of RHR International, the Partnership for Public Service, and the National Organization on Disability.

He is also former Chairman of The Conference Board, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, and Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE), now named Enactus. Doug is the co-author with Mette Norgaard of the New York Times bestseller Touchpoints: Creating Powerful Leadership Connections in the Smallest of Moments, is a featured leadership blogger at Harvard Business Review online, writes about leadership in his suite of high-impact leadership resources available on his blog at ConantLeadership.com, and he shares leadership insights and articles as a LinkedIn Influencer.

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