You don't have to be a CEO to act like one
Work culture, transformation, risk-taking, to-do lists and making the impossible happen. These are only a few of the lessons from Jeffrey Fox and Robert Reiss, authors of "The Transformative CEO: Impact Lessons from Industry Game Changers." Whether you just moved into your first cubicle or you've been eyeing the corner office, Fox and Reiss share experiences and insight from some of the most ambitious, successful and talented CEOs of this generation to help you get into the CEO mindset.
Hire to your culture, and be hired by a culture you respect
Each company has its own ideas and values that promote the company's vision. Successfully joining a work culture means better working relationships, increased productivity and a more enjoyable work experience. "Our culture is based on ethics, value creation and innovation," says Robert L. Johnson, founding CEO of the Black Entertainment Network. "Culture is fundamental. People have to know how culture functions, what is OK, [what is] good and what is not done, or tolerated, in this company."
When a company finds people who share their ideals, they create a strong cultural force that can push ideas forward. Whether you're a part of a company or looking to join one, study that company's culture and determine if you're a good fit.
Perform while transforming
If a company is doing poorly, it's clear to everybody that change needs to happen. But what about when everything's going well? "Transformation is a strategic imperative," says Scott Davis, CEO of UPS. "It is the CEO's job to manage the transformation. To speed it up if necessary. It means overcoming any resistance to change in the organization. It means disrupting the status quo. The CEO has to communicate his vision and keep everybody on board."
The goal should always be to push yourself further, keep creating and continue to grow. If your boss says that you're doing great and you're performing well, don't settle into a rut. Find ways to make yourself better and help the company flourish.
Take the risk
Taking a risk in business is scary. You put your reputation on the line when you pitch a new idea, and the results can be different than you hoped. But CEOs know risks are the only way to make progress. "As you develop a business, you have to take risks," says Bill Roedy, founding CEO of MTV International. "This is an important principle. Break the rules. You're going to learn to make mistakes, but that's how you learn."
What have CEOs learned about risk-taking? Dan Amos, CEO of insurance company Aflac, has three principles he judges his risk-taking against before deciding to move forward. "First, don't risk a lot for a little. Second, don't risk more than you can afford to lose. Third, consider the odds -- the probabilities of something, anything occurring." Amos' famous Aflac duck commercials passed his test, and he moved forward with the idea, even though other commercial ideas seemed like much safer options.
Beware of your to-do list
A daily to-do list can keep you on track and ensure you're getting your work done, a smart practice for anyone. However, just because you're crossing items off your to-do list doesn't necessarily mean you're getting anything done. Are the company's top projects getting accomplished because you answer your emails promptly?
"Someone once gave me good advice," says Anne Mulcahy, former CEO of Xerox. "He told me not to have more than three objectives. That doesn't mean there aren't a lot of other things going on in big, complex global companies. But when you want people to focus, you have to give priorities that they can manage. Three."
Nothing is impossible
Not only do CEOs constantly transform their company, they also challenge the industry standards. "Keep the pressure on for creativity, innovation, differentiation," Fox and Reiss say. "Be relentless in getting change and performance." Royal Caribbean Cruises CEO Richard Fain says, "Our advertising describes us as the 'Nation of Why Not.' And that is absolutely true. We really do believe in 'Why not.'" Become known for coming up with crazy ideas and solutions to problems that haven't occurred yet. This attitude can help you secure a spot at the head of the pack.
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