Are You CEO Material?

A lot of us think if only I were in charge… things would be different. I’d make this happen; I wouldn’t let that happen. We’re sure we could do better.

But the truth is that if you’ve ever been responsible for the livelihoods of other people, you know that it’s not easy. If you are a thinking, caring individual; carrying the fate of a family’s paycheck in your hands is daunting.

In the world of  CEO’s, certain people immediately come to mind: Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Warren Buffett.  Do you think they are good or bad CEOs? Well, it’s hard to argue with success but I wonder what really does make a good chief.

So I turn to a man whose opinion I admire, Peter Drucker. Here’s an article he wrote for Harvard Business Review in 2004 titled, “What Makes an Effective Executive.” In it he says that effective leaders follow 8 simple rules; the last of which is “think and say we, not I.”

Here’s another perspective from the researcher Jim Collins, (Good to Great).  “The best CEOs in our research display tremendous ambition for their company combined with the stoic will to do whatever it takes, no matter how brutal (within the bounds of the company’s core values), to make the company great. Yet at the same time they display a remarkable humility about themselves, ascribing much of their own success to luck, discipline and preparation rather than personal genius.”

We get to act as CEO’s of our lives, our families, our careers and perhaps a few other opportunities. Are you confident in your abilities and contribution but humble about how outcomes are achieved? If you are, then maybe the ‘you’ company is on its way to being successful.

We’re All Teachers (and Students). Everyday.

I enjoy teaching because I  love that moment when I see my students nodding their heads. Eureka, they are getting it! Light bulbs are going off! It’s a great feeling. But even more importantly, my students always teach me so much; about myself and the world (as they see it!)

If we are parents with children at home; we of course recognize that teaching them is part of our role. But do we also see that we are students of our children? That they are teaching us as much as we are teaching them?

Everyday we meet new people. Are we open to learning about them? To learning about what they have to teach us?

Everyday I set a goal of seeing if I can make a difference in someone else’s life by doing something small like: listening to them, thanking them, noticing how hard they work or how much THEY make a difference.  It’s a simple and small thing but it gives my life meaning. The well-known poem Desiderata puts an interesting spin on this.  Here’s an excerpt from this simple guide for living a happy life.

As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexatious to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

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I’m Great; Even When I Stink

Humility is interesting.

I saw Adam Sandler being interviewed on television. Even if you don’t like him or his movies, I think he’s a good example of how a combination of self confidence and humility can create success.

Adam told a story about when he was first starting out in stand up. While the audience wasn’t laughing very hard,  he was thinking, “I don’t understand why these people don’t see how funny I am!” He wasn’t discouraged; he didn’t stop. He believed in himself.

Listening to him talk about his latest project was inspiring because he was humble about his success without being phony or self-effacing.

My goal is to be genuine in all my interactions. This means that I recognize what I’m good at and can speak with confidence;  AND I know that I have something to learn from every person I meet. No one is better than me (no matter what they have accomplished) and I’ m not better than anyone else.

Brother Can You Spare a Dime?

I enjoy meeting new people and helping them succeed. I understand the importance of networking and when I ask someone to meet me;  I offer to buy them a cup of coffee. Two dollars is a small investment to show someone that I appreciate their time.

I am grateful that I have the time and ability to volunteer and help as many people as I can.

When people ask to meet me, say they want to ‘pick my brain’ or ask me to make introductions to my contacts and don’t even offer to buy me a cup of coffee; I take note. What kind of employee will this person make if they don’t understand common courtesy?  I am taking this post to heart. I resolve to buy more coffees in 2011 to thank all those who help me.