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Inflation has soared to its highest levels in 40 years, Russia's invasion of Ukraine has caused experts to claim this is the end of globalization and supply chain disruptions continue to plague businesses. Faced with these challenges, the best chief executive officers will continue to rise above current strife so as to succeed on their terms.
In the book, Beyond Digital, Paul Leinwand and Mahadeva Matt Mani, both from accounting services giant, PwC, discuss how CEOs at some of America's most successful companies, transformed their businesses. Let's examine their findings.
Be prepared to stand apart
In Warren Buffett's first ever television interview, he explained why he decided to set up his business in Omaha, Nebraska, rather than Wall Street.
The Oracle suggested that he got enough news in the Cornhusker State to make the right decisions and maintain intellectual independence. Had Buffett set up shop in New York, he would have been sucked into a way of thinking advocated by Manhattan's so-called Masters Of The Universe.
The basis of this billionaire's edge is his acknowledgement that no matter your intentions, power or motivation? Your environment is the key driver of your behavior.
Will Thorndike titled his book, The Outsiders, because he found that many of the best CEOs were just that. These captains of industry compounded shareholder value at incredible rates and often did so away from major financial centers and always in very idiosyncratic ways.
Start a circle
Everyone has their circle of competence. The true genius of great CEOs is understanding what their strengths are and leaning into them.When Dean Rogers' career in the NFL was drawing to a close, he had to think carefully about what his off-the-field career would look like. He leaned into his circle of competence and built the Home Helpers Group in Central Valley, California with immediate success. Understanding his circle of competence is the basis for his wins as a real estate investor.
The best CEOs search out their limits. They want to know what they don't know. They also want to know what their failings are, because they understand it can help make them better. They see negative feedback as an opportunity to get better, not as a sign of their inadequacy.
Know your weaknesses, use your strengths
Some weaknesses can be ignored. For instance, if you're an investor but can't understand a certain kind of business, it's best to move on rather than wasting time trying to figure out a format you may never get. However, there are things which are important to the running of your company that absolutely have to be fixed.The best leaders lean on their strengths to develop the skills they need to get better. For example, if a boss lacks creativity, but is disciplined, he or she can lean on that discipline to find ways to develop creativity.
Sir Isaac Newton, the great physicist who discovered the laws of gravity, famously said, "if I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants".
Success is about searching out those who are better than us, regardless of whether they are different in how they look, sound, act or think.
Are you experienced?
Royal Philips CEO, Frans van Houten, recounts how when he was appointed to head a new segment of the company, his then boss told him he was there, "to learn to lead people rather than just being a smart-ass in the class".
As head of the semiconductor business, he did not know much about the product. What he did have was a willingness to expose himself to experiences where he would be forced to adapt and learn. He was prepared to feel stupid in order to develop.
As a CEO, you should prize getting better over wanting to always feel like an expert. Be comfortable not being an expert everywhere, so you can learn more. The price of success is the willingness to challenge yourself.