Ron Williams is the former chairman and CEO of Aetna Inc. Ron’s new book is Learning to Lead: The Journey to Leading Yourself, Leading Others, and Leading an Organization. On the podcast, Ron provides practical, tested leadership advice, whether you’re searching for a new career, looking for proven management solutions, or seeking to transform your organization. Developed from Ron’s own personal and professional journey, as well as the experiences of America’s leading CEOs, these strategies emerge boldly from engaging stories, outlined with practical steps
[4:25] Leaders aren’t born. It is a learned skill. You have the ability to excel in whatever you put your mind to. Do not accept the narrative that others impose on you.
[6:45] Surround yourself with people who are where you want to go.
[9:15] When it comes to leading organizations, a critical skill to have is also the ability to lead yourself.
[10:25] While most staff are concerned about this week, this month, this quarter, the CEO and the board have to look beyond the horizon to see what’s next.
[11:20] A piece of advice Ron gives to executives trying to delay gratification: If it feels good, don’t do it.
[13:15] As leaders, it’s important to assume positive intent when it comes to your team. People want to do a good job. Most of them don’t set out to miss deadlines.
[14:15] ‘Why’ is a good question to ask, but it can sometimes make people feel like they’re five years old again trying to justify a bad decision. Instead, rephrase the question to, ‘help me understand what were some of the barriers.’ Make your ‘why’ question a collaboration question.
[18:15] In order to solve the right problem, you have to give your team the room to come forward and communicate.
[22:55] Values are only real if the executives talk about it and live it within the organization.
[27:10] Failure of leadership is when you create yes-men in your organization and your staff are too scared to speak up on bad ideas.
[29:10] Leaders can achieve great success in organizations with different approaches: Fear, Money, Pride, Values. Just because someone is successful, doesn’t mean their leadership style was a values-approached style.
[32:45] As the workforce becomes globalized, it’s more important than ever not to hire more people that are similar to you or practice groupthink.
[35:40] Do you think you’re inclusive in your organization? Ask yourself: When was the last time you were in a group where you were a minority?
[38:45] Ron’s challenge: A leader’s role is to develop the talent within an organization. Ron has had five people under him go on to become CEOs. You want to hire people who have the potential to be as good as you, if not better.
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