Chief enlightenment officer
There is no guarantee you will end up in the CEO's corner office yourself. However, clever career-minded individuals will swiftly see just how useful Adam Bryant's first book is.
This is a well-researched and valuable work, which compiles insights and pearls of wisdom from more than 75 CEOs and other Big Potatoes, from companies of all sizes.
A journalist for more than two decades, Bryant is no ordinary hack - he is a
For this book, Bryant studied the transcripts from dozens of interviews with business leaders and executives that he had used for his column. And the outcome is impressive.
Bryant's large group of interview subjects is actually more diverse than the executive community itself. For instance, a third of the executives he talked with are women, a much higher proportion than in the real world. Nevertheless, a great deal of common ground is established.
As Bryant explains: "Many of the CEOs who I interviewed resembled one another in their approach. They listen, learn, assess what's working, what's not and why, and then make adjustments. They are quick studiers and they also tend to be good teachers, because they understand the process of learning and can explain what they've learned to others. They seem eager to discuss their hard-earned insights, rather than holding on to them as if they were proprietary software."
One featured CEO, Cristóbal Conde of IT giant SunGard, talks about collaboration, and how he utilises social-networking technology to foster this. "I think top-down organisations got started because the bosses either knew more or they had access to more information," he says. "None of that applies now. Everybody has access to identical amounts of information."
A revealing insight Conde shares is that he tries to set aside 90 minutes every day when he's totally free from his phone and computer. "There are many times where you need solid focus. So I've learned that it's incredibly useful to reserve some time," he says.
Another challenge to being at the top of the pyramid is finding ways to learn what employees are really doing and thinking. Almost all CEOs, Bryant writes, believe that it's a good idea to "get out and walk around".
Deborah Dunsire of Millennium Pharmaceuticals routinely schedules "walkabout" time, during which she asks employees what keeps them up at night and what they feel good about.
Another CEO, a marketing-agency maestro, confesses that he used to return from his frequent out-of-town trips and simply retreat to his office. He soon discovered that "holing yourself up in your office is not the way to learn about what's happening in the organisation."
Unfortunately for Asia-Pacific readers,