My best advice for a new CEO: Model the behavior you want the rest of the company to emulate to build a great culture.
It’s a simple, valuable message, and one I was excited to share with author Doug Noll, of Authority Magazine, for his series “Five Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became A CEO.”
Growing up, I was lucky enough to have a front-row seat to grit and hard work. My father built his own company but would still clean a bathroom as CEO when he saw it was needed. I also watched my mother excel in multiple, very different careers. She never lectured me about responsibility or the value of teamwork. She passed life lessons through hard work.
I leverage the lessons from my background and stops in my career each day in my role as CEO. It’s a challenging job that requires discipline and accepting full responsibility for performance. The role is very different from the myth of the globe-trotting CEO schmoozing at expensive dinners with other CEOs. Instead, since I’m ultimately accountable, I must deeply understand the day-to-day business and how we are doing as a company.
If a new CEO asked me for five takeaways that I try to lean on, I’d say:
- Be prepared to do the work you ask of others.
- Always create time to invest in yourself.
- Continually evaluate your long-term vision.
- Pay attention to the things that keep you up at night.
- Be open to feedback and advice – even when it is difficult to hear.
In speaking with Doug, I talked about my toughest decisions as CEO, as well as what I find most rewarding. I also shared a couple of humorous, but educational, missteps made when I was starting out. They are funnier and more insightful now than they were at the time.
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