HR Management & Compliance, Talent

Things We Can Learn About Leadership Development from Successful CEOs (Part 2)

[Part 1 of this article appeared in the previous issue.]
While research clarifies how successful CEOs are known to behave, it’s much easier to understand the research when it’s reviewed alongside real-world scenarios. Here are a few real-life examples of how successful CEOs have demonstrated their leadership development skills.

Satya Nadella, Microsoft

When Microsoft launched a Twitter bot named Tay, they had to shut it down less than 16 hours after it was released because hackers caused it to repost racist and derogatory comments. Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella, sent out an e-mail to those on the internal Tay team, reminding them that he was beside them and encouraged them to keep learning and improving. As a leader, he quickly moved to reassure his employees while still handling the situation at hand. Employees are more likely to give you their best when you build them up, while still providing them with effective criticism for improvement.

Howard Schultz, Starbucks

In 2015, Shultz sent a memo to his employees after the stock market crashed in Asia. He encouraged employees to be sensitive to customers who will likely be stressed out and on edge and reassured them of the strength of the Starbucks brand. He used the opportunity to praise his employees for their work, as well as inform them of the bigger economic climate that was likely affecting many people around the globe. In the memo, Schultz displayed that as a leader, he thinks of everyone as a stakeholder—employees and customers. He also acted quickly when sending out the memo, proactively adapted to things outside of his control (the global economic climate as a whole), and moved on to continue to deliver desirable results.

Jeff Bezos, Amazon

The New York Times once published a piece highlighting Amazon as a company that doesn’t care about its employees’ well-being. In fact, it described Amazon as a highly contentious place to work, where people often cried at their desks and there was a culture of back-stabbing. Bezos read the article and then sent out a memo to his employees stating that he didn’t recognize Amazon as the workplace being described in the article but encouraged employees to reach out if they were experiencing those harsh realities described. And, ultimately, the company revealed significant changes to the way they would handle employee performance in the future. Bezos demonstrated his ability to handle criticism and involve his stakeholders for the betterment of his organization and employees. He saw an opportunity to better the organization, instead of ignoring the bad press.
Ultimately, what research and real-world experiences show us about successful CEOs is their ability to quickly and effectively communicate with their stakeholders and employees as they adapt to new situations, while consistently delivering reliable results.