Insights from Stein Kruse, CEO Holland America Group

Last night I had the privilege of attending a presentation and panel discussion with Stein Kruse, the CEO of Holland America Group, as part of the Executive Speaker Series at Seattle University. He gave a 15 minute talk and then fielded questions from both a panel and the audience. A few of the highlights follow.

Stein’s Eight Keys to Leadership
1) Maintain absolute integrity
2) Be well-informed
3) Declare your vision
4) Show uncommon commitment
5) Expect positive results
6) Take care of your team
7) Put duty before self
8) Stand out in front

He quoted Peter Drucker when discussing the differences between leadership and management. “Leadership is doing the right thing, Management is doing things right.” which is just simple and on target. Management is the easy part, leadership is harder and more decisive.

Holland America is rated as one of the world’s most ethical companies and is very profitable. They also believe strongly in community involvement. Stein requires all of his VP level team members to each be on the board of a non-profit.

The biggest opportunity in the cruise business is the Asian market. Currently there are only 200,000 Chinese cruise passengers today and something like 45,000 Japanese passengers. In five years this is expected to be 5,000,000. This opportunity comes with a challenge as virtually all ships are designed and outfitted for the Western/English speaking passengers. Adapting the ships includes everything from printed characters in cabins, to safety drill communications, to food, to entertainment styles and even on-ship venues. 50% of the world-wide cruise vessel tonnage is deployed to the Caribbean and Europe while less than 5% is deployed to Asia. To capitalize on this emerging market, their COO has moved to Asia.

The key takeaways are:

1) To capitalize on emerging markets, an executive from HQ should be present, this instills corporate values while embracing local cultures. Once the systems are in place and leadership is installed, the HQ executive can then depart.

2) Safety, Ethics and Community Involvement are keys to success, this keeps executives in touch with their communities and also offers the benefit of their leadership and management experience to community organizations.

3) There are key differences between leadership and management. Leadership chooses the right things and principles that one stands on, while management ensures that the processes and organizational constructs are in place to achieve objectives.



Also posted to LinkedIn

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