Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Golden Nuggets of Wisdom from CEO Richard Bracken

CEO Richard Bracken
The Chairman and retiring CEO of Hospital Corporation of America offers up quite a lot of golden nuggets of wisdom in this interview with McKinsey - Leading in the 21st century: An interview with HCA CEO Richard Bracken.  Let's highlight four of those nuggets as essential ones for leaders across sectors.

A View to the Horizon

(image credit)
For Bracken, the leadership challenge comes down to getting the balance right between performing in the short term and taking the necessary steps to position his company to cope successfully under multiple possible scenarios in the future.
Wall Street values the company that has a bright future.  Yet, when we get down to brass tacks, Wall Street seems to reward mostly those companies that adopt a short-term focus on results.  For years, Jeff Bezos fought off pressures for Amazon to become profitable, because he was positioning the pioneering online retailer for a strong future.  So while the CEO may feel consigned to walk about the weeds, head down, he or she must keep the distant horizon firmly in view.  

A Small `Umbrella Perspective

Strategic Job and Career Management
Stay focused on delivering in your current position; many otherwise highly capable people are too quick to be thinking about the next promotion. No one likes a team member who is focused on the next opportunity.
I have trained and advised on strategic career management, and echo Bracken's emphasis here.  Managers and professionals see the importance of looking at their careers along a timeline.  More than likely, they will change jobs, and assume a series of them that, I suggested, ought to raise the bar: that is, in terms of responsibilities, knowledge and skills, and of course salary scale.  Yet, I also emphasize that if they don't perform well in their current job, and the build the right relationships now, they won't get to that future they envision.  The small `umbrella perspective, in other words, is just as crucial for strategic career management as the big `umbrella perspective.  

A `No to Yes Men and Women

(image credit)
It’s common for CEOs to feel surrounded by people who filter negative information. To get unfiltered information, I’ve found that you must spend significant and quality time in the operations environment. I have an advantage that others may lack. Having been with this company for over 30 years, I know a lot of people across the organization. I get important intelligence directly from them. I can assure you I get very candid input. It is these relationships that can drive a better understanding of a new initiative or identify flaws early in the process.
Word was, former CEO of Compaq Eckhard Pfeiffer, well before the acquisition by Hewlett-Packard, increasingly shuttered himself from the rank-and-file and mostly surrounded himself with the sort of people whom Bracken cautioned against.  Similarly I knew of a General Manager who dreaded negative feedback so much that he publicly refused it, and privately hid from it, and left the rest of his staff in a bit of quandary when problems with his leadership arose.  It takes courage, for sure, but a CEO must have at least a segment of his or her leadership team who isn't afraid to say `No and he or she must face the music of something potentially dreadful.  

A Go at the Pivot

Effective leaders ensure that the right team, with the right values, is in place to execute the plan and can pivot appropriately when factors change.
Athletes cannot possibly script or control what a game will demand of them.  So they must train, prepare and strategize to go full-bore in any one direction, and perhaps alter that direction in a matter of split seconds.  It's what they call the ability to `turn on a dime.  Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls seriously injured his right knee, after a serious injury to his left knee, largely because the force he puts on these hallowed joints from explosive moves is large indeed.  It takes serious management conditioning for a CEO to make such pivot, again and again, as necessary.

Thank you for reading, and let me know what you think!

Ron Villejo, PhD

No comments:

Post a Comment