Leadership in telecom: How AT&T’s Glenn Lurie uses ‘the 3 Ps’ to generate momentum at telecom giant

AT&T's Glenn Lurie. Image: AT&T

This is part of an occasional series from Fierce looking at leadership and management strategies in the telecom market.

After a brief career as a professional soccer player, AT&T’s Glenn Lurie got a job in the 1990s selling cell phones in Portland. As The Oregonian notes, Lurie quickly outpaced his sales goals, and eventually reached a position where he negotiated AT&T’s landmark agreement with Steve Jobs’ Apple to sell the inventor’s first iPhone.

After leading AT&T’s Emerging Devices Organization (now its Internet of Things unit), Lurie was promoted to president and CEO of AT&T’s Mobility and Consumer Operations, overseeing the division’s sales, customer care, operations and digital efforts. Lurie reports to John Stankey, CEO of the AT&T Entertainment Group.

On leading large organizations: "With the large organization that John and I have, it's about simplicity. You need to get your messages out. You gotta think about these things and do them in a simple fashion. … I live by, and the team lives by, the thing we call the three Ps. ... It's people, purpose and passion."

"We've made this the foundation of our goals and objectives. … One of the things about leading large organizations is, you've got to have some rallying cries—you’ve got to get people on the same page using the same language. And this is one of those tools that we use to do that."

On employees: "One of the first things I do every time I talk to a group is make sure we all understand that we've got to take care of our people.”

"Are you taking care of the people you work with? Because I spend more time at work than I do at home. And the reason I like work is that I love the people I work with. So, that's the essence of the first P."

On motivation: "Purpose is about how you fit in. So, what do you do every day that helps your supervisor be successful? … Where do you fit?”

“And one of the things that makes purpose so important ... is that purpose is what connects you. So, you know every day, what my role is, what my play is, what I'm supposed to get done, to help this team be successful, this organization be successful. People who don't have purpose don't stay. ... So I really challenge all my leaders to make sure, do you know what makes each person excited? Do you know what drives each of the folks that works for you?"

"The last P is passion. And passion is that crazy person that you've worked with that comes to work every day fired up and kind of drives you crazy. I love those people. Because they make everyone else in the room feel the same way. That's the person who just loves their job, understands their purpose, loves the people they work with. I think it might be the most important P. Because that person … they get things done."

On the 3 Ps: "When you put those three things together, when you're talking about an individual or a team, a company, you get a pretty amazing culture."

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