New York Times business reporter Bryant (The Corner Office: Indispensable and Unexpected Lessons from CEOs on How to Lead and Succeed, 2011) collects advice from CEOs on how to build a business culture that attracts and encourages the best employees.
How do you keep that old magic of successful startup businesses? Maintaining the initial soul, passion and nimbleness of those first days is the author’s aim in this chatty, anecdotally rich series of interviews with more than 200 CEOs, a stew of experience from which Bryant tries to spear the nuggets of wisdom. Culture is the key, writes the author: “[I]nnovation is the byproduct of an effective culture.” Of course, that’s not as easy as it sounds, for it requires much of the CEO: a free flow of ideas, a tempering of the ego and the encouragement of the development of new skills to keep things fresh. CEOs must live by and be responsible to the values of the business, be dependable and caring, keep meetings to the point and small in size so people can participate, develop a culture of respect, solicit input by talking directly with the person involved. With so many business professionals weighing in, there is bound to be some static: One CEO extols giving employees “space and rope,” then emphasizes teamwork. There are also plenty of bromides—“A successful culture is like a greenhouse where people and ideas can flourish”—and some less-than-helpful tidbits, but the majority of the tips are useful. Some of the more notable contributors include the CEOs of Zappos, eBay, Stetson, Atlantic Records Group, Accenture, Tesco, ING Direct, United Entertainment Group, Saks, Hilton Worldwide and The Container Store.
Reams of practical advice for and from business leaders, most—thankfully—with a human, caring touch.