The Grey Chronicles


Inside the CEOs’ Minds

Inside the Minds: Leading CEOs

Inside the Minds:
Leading CEOs

The critically acclaimed Inside the Minds series provides readers with proven business intelligence from C-Level executives (CEO, CFO, CTO, CMO, Partner) from the world’s most respected companies. Each chapter is comparable to a white paper or essay and is a future-oriented look at where an industry/profession/topic is heading and the most important issues for future success.

Published by Aspatore Books, Inside the Minds: Leading CEOs (2001) subtitled The Secrets to Management, Leadership And Profiting in Any Economy presents seven [7] essays dealing with fundamentals, values, priorities, people, entrepreneurship, and culture. Here are some snippets from this book.

Frederic M. Poses, Chairman and CEO of American Standard Co., writing Fundamentals Never Go Out of Style, notes:

“When I think about the fundamentals of a successful business, I have three major concerns: People: Are we recruiting and retaining the best possible talent and giving our people maximum opportunity to develop and expand their skills and increase their value to the company? Environment: Are we creating the kind of working environment where people are results-driven, where expectations are high, and where the organization is structured to help people achieve results? Focus: When the economic cycle eventually turns down, do we keep our perspective and stay focused on the basics of growth-building, such as improved customer service, competitive new products, and the kind of operating efficiency that supports profitability?”

“Difficult times don’t mean you throw away your proven strategies and start casting around for miracle cures. In good times or bad, the fundamentals of the game do not change. You have a strategy; you have customers; and you have to execute. . . When the economy looks grim, some of the same people convince themselves the situation will never turn around. So in tough times, you know pessimism will rise to the surface. You need to counter it with a vision that says, “We have good businesses. We have good people. We will do the right things. And the market and our business will turn around.”

Question : Should we be doing SWOT analysis during this time? Too late the hero, I suppose!

Corning President and CEO, John W. Loose, writing High-Tech Company, High-Touch Values, notes:

“Here are the principles of our Operating Environment: (1) We work together as a global team. (2) We value and respect each other. (3) We drive innovation and discovery. (4) We deliver superior customer value. (5) We commit to achieve excellent results. (6) We move quickly from idea to customer.”

“When times are tough, the people in an organization can get discouraged. They are worried they’ll lose their jobs. The anxiety of not knowing where a situation may lead breeds a lot of stress. I try to acknowledge that by talking to them and giving them facts. One of the big problems in these situations is what I call the bogey man syndrome — people make up stories and start rumors when they don’t have facts. The most important thing we can do is keep talking, getting the message out, and at least getting the bogey man off the table.”

Question : When rumors are ignored, is the truth too far behind?

CEO and Chairman of Office Depot, Bruce Nelson, writing Balancing Priorities for the Bottom Line: Employees, Customers, Shareholder, notes:

“The most important foundation for anything, but especially a business, is a foundation of trust. This trust must translate itself later into confidence. Trust is being as open and forthright as possible and as truthful as possible in every situation. . . Dialogue is essential because it creates opportunities for disagreements because of the responsibility to express different viewpoints blended with facts and opinions. Facts and opinions are important considerations in decision making. They combine with intuition to form the basis for all major decisions. Dialogue means there is room for healthy disagreements, not disagreements for disagreement’s sake, but to reach a better decision. When the disagreement ends, there must be unanimity.”

Question : When is a dialogue becomes a monologue?

“The three main day-to-day focuses of a CEO are people, money, and customers. People are affected through human resources; money is managed through the CFO; and customers are managed through marketing. The CEO needs sufficient data about all three.”

Chairman and CEO of RPM, formerly Republic Powdered Metals, Thomas C. Sullivan, writing Keeping the Right People in Your Company, notes:

“My father gave me my best piece of business advice when he said, “Go get good people; create the atmosphere that will keep them; and let them do their jobs.” . . The advice I give most often to others is to be honest with yourself and with those around you, and believe in yourself. Integrity is the most important thing you can have. If you do enough, you’re going to have a few failures. If you don’t have any failures, you’re not doing enough.”

Question : Is management by asking why, letting them do their jobs?

Chairman and CEO of New England Motor Freight, Myron P. Shevell, writing Gaining and Maintaining Entrepreneurial Momentum, notes:

“Information is important to any business. Of course, you have to know your own business well. But you also have to know about your customers, your competition, industry trends, the business climate, and innumerable other things. Read a lot. . . Share your information with your staff, and have them share theirs with you. Everyone has different ways of getting information, and you need to combine and compare and analyze it to have an idea of where things are going.”

Question : Why the secrecy in steel prices?

“Never forget there is a business cycle. There will be good times; there will be bad times. Neither will last forever. The best way to manage for a bad economy is to manage properly when times are good. That means being prepared for the inevitable downturn in the economy. . . If you’re a free spender in good times, you may not be able to grab the reins quickly enough when the economy spirals down..”

Question : In good times, giving all the company could give to a select few, is equitable?

CEO of Verio, Justin Jaschke, writing Creating a Culture that Ensures Success, notes:

“a perfect fit — that is, ensuring that the right people with the best skills are in the right positions. . . in the right environment for success.”

“My view is that the only sustainable business advantage these days is the ability to learn faster than your competitors. I try to capitalize on change by continuing to learn about the business and keeping an open mind to change and how you can take advantage of it.”

“Ultimately, there are three rules to building a company that will last. The paramount rule is don’t run out of money. . . The second rule is remember the importance of people. “Nothing is impossible, as long as you don’t have to do it yourself.” There is a third rule, which is a risk-management kind of mantra: “Run the business as if you are going to own it forever, or you probably will.”

Question : How could one run out of money, if money is no object?

Chairman of the Board, President, CEO of Duke Energy, Richard B. Priory, writing Maintaining Traditional Values in a Culture of Constant Change, notes:

“If planning is truly strategic, it involves spanning the expanse between where an organization is today and the shared vision of where it will be in the future. The strategic plan is a bridge between two points, one known and one anticipated. It links present state with future state and provides a platform from which a company moves forward.”

“Leadership talent is mission-critical to a company’s ability to effectively execute bold strategy and achieve strong results. Success requires a commitment to building bench strength throughout the enterprise, preparing employees and leaders to shape and succeed in the brave new worlds of our industry and markets.”

Author and futurist Alvin Toffler wrote, “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”


Hughes, Jo Alice [ed.] (2001). Inside the Minds: Leading CEOs; The Secrets to Management, Leadership And Profiting in Any Economy. Boston, MA: Aspatore, 2001. 216pp. back to text

Disclaimer: The posts on this site does not necessarily represent any organization’s positions, strategies or opinions; and unless otherwise expressly stated, are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Philippines License.


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