PayPal: Our People Are Unstoppable


Recently, I had the great opportunity to be the Keynote Speaker at PayPal’s You Are Unstoppable Leadership Conference in Omaha, NE. The conference focused on the Unstoppable potential of the men and women of PayPal. It was a great honor to speak to over 350 PayPal Leaders at the leadership conference. However, it was an even greater honor to have the conference named after the title of my book “You Are Unstoppable”. There were several leadership lessons that came out of the conference.

First, when Vice President of PayPal Global Operations Linda Dugan and her leadership team interviewed me for the Keynote speaker opportunity at their Leadership Event, I asked what they wanted to accomplish and how could I help make their event a success. During the interview, Linda and her team set some definitive goals and expectations that they wanted to accomplish for the conference. When I left the meeting, I clearly understood what they wanted to accomplish and what they expected from me.

  • Take time to set high standards and high expectations: Make sure that you clear up all uncertainty when you are setting goals and expectations. Linda and her team clearly defined their outcomes and their vision of a successful conference. They took the time to envision the vision before they started and developed a clear-cut strategy to accomplish their vision. Through their single-minded focus and purpose for the conference, they set the path for a successful endeavor. Build a team that understands the vision and can accomplish it.
  • Take time to commit yourself to making an impact: Linda and her leadership team authentically cared about and believed in the people working at PayPal. They took the time and thought necessary to create a conference that made an impact on their people. Extraordinary results happen; when you take the time to give the very best, you have to make an impact.
  • Be an engaged leader and understand your people and your organization: Leadership is everyone’s business. Know your people and your organization well enough to identify leadership gaps and challenges.

 Success demands singleness of purpose.” — Vince Lombardi

             Second, Linda and her leadership team clearly understood that effective leadership begins at the top and permeates throughout the organization at all levels. This is a crucial factor in assuring that leadership is an organization-wide capability. Leaders at every level in an organization must accept the responsibility to lead, take ownership of their part of the mission, and develop their people. The impact of successful leadership cascades across all departments in an organization and can affect the morale of each person. Leaders are linked to organizational culture and organizational effectiveness. Leaders who develop their people guarantee organizational success.

  • Leadership development is critical to organizational success: Today, organizational leadership is a necessity. Every person in an organization needs to be able to lead through complexity and ambiguity. Ensure your people understand that leadership development is not an option it is a business necessity. People-focused leadership involves setting and clarifying organizational and developmental leadership expectations. Letting your people know what you and the organization expects of them in the area of growth and development is important. Your people need to own their leadership development and understand their importance in the organization and how you plan to invest in them.
  • Purposeful development is the key to continuous growth: Employee Growth and development are not a one-time event they are continuous and deliberate. Therefore, it is an organizational imperative you invest in developing your people systematically and persistently. Developing leaders in a deliberate process guarantees you will produce the requisite leadership for the future. Take the time to invest in your organization and build your future leaders
  • Your people are not just employees; they are valuable assets to the growth of your organization: People enjoy coming to work with a boss who inspires them, develops them daily, and makes them feel a part of the team. With the globalization of the world economies, the rate and pace of change, new emerging technologies, and the chaotic nature of the world today, organizations are reliant on knowledge-enabled and globally connected employees to remain competitive. Organizations need knowledge-enabled leaders and highly competent employees.
  • Create a learning environment in which everyone can capitalize on their talents and develop their leadership: Encourage people to expand their horizons to continuously grow, continuously develop, and continuously reinvent themselves. By growing and developing your people, you are building a leadership bench for your team and your organization. This is an organizational imperative and a necessity. These are the principles of continuous development, continuous coaching, and continuously encouraging your people.

“Today, it is no longer enough for leaders or organizations to say, ‘People are our greatest asset.’ They need to back it up through a clearly articulated philosophy and by investing in talent development, talent retention, and succession planning.” Thomas Narofsky

             Third and final observation, Linda and her leadership team established a level of trust, integrity, and a culture of respect in the organization. Trust is a vital component of leadership success and is the very heart of every leadership relationship. Trust is a relationship established between you and a follower. Trust is a vital component of a leader’s success and is the very heart of a leader-follower relationship. A trustworthy leader builds a culture of integrity and respect and maintains trust with others. They interact with people unambiguously and respectfully. The relationship of the leader and the subordinate is a team relationship built on trust, respect, and integrity.

  • An authentic leader is a role model for their people: Linda and her team took the time to make an impact on their organization and their people. Leaders must work to keep their people motivated if they plan to keep their talent. A leader who is genuine and authentic is trustworthy. Organizational leaders know talented employees stay with companies that inspire and motivate them. People want to feel a part of something that is important and will make a difference.
  • Seek to inspire trust and a higher sense of purpose: Linda and her team sought to inspire by giving their people an opportunity to grow and develop. Inspirational leadership empowers and unleashes people’s creativity, innovation, and collaboration. Trust is essential to leadership. No one wants to follow an untrustworthy leader. Trust means you are true to your word and you are an authentic leader.
  • Promote positive teamwork: Positive teamwork supports the organization’s goals and objectives and fosters behavior directed toward the achievement of theses ends. Teamwork that supports hard work, loyalty, quality consciousness, or concern for customer satisfaction are examples of positive norms. This information will communicate trust, develop responsibility, and it will reinforce the importance of growth and development to the organization.

 “Average leaders raise the bar on themselves; good leaders raise the bar for others; great leaders inspire others to raise their own bar.” Orrin Woodward

In the end, I think I learned more from my time with this great organization, their great leaders, and most of all from their unstoppable people. It leaves no room for doubt as to why this organization was selected as one of the best places to work in Omaha in 2014.


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