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"Getting the Most Out of Your Direct Reports"

In an economic environment of downsizing and lost revenues, businesses are faced with the dilemma of how to grow out of a recession. Most executives are uncertain about the future. Therefore, everyone is confronted with the necessity of doing more with less.

So the question remains: „How do I grow the organization without disproportionately increasing expenses?? On September 24th, prominent business leaders headlined the recent Board of Veterans CEOs’ forum to answer that question and many more.

Featured in the September forum was retired Chairman & CEO of Chase Bank and retired Vice Chairman of Xerox Corporation. The two led a highly charged discussion about Making Your People Your Competitive Edge: Strategies for Creating and Disrupting a High Performance Culture to Get the Most Out of Your Leadership Team or Board.

The dynamics of this CEO meeting centers around retired CEOs of Fortune 1000s leading a roundtable discussion with sitting CEOs of midsize to large companies. The forum is a platform for retired CEOs to transfer their knowledge and experience to current CEOs. The industries vary as well as the challenges CEOs face.

To give insight into the obstacles that the retired CEOs encountered in their tenure, the retired CEOs discuss the greatest challenge they had to handle as CEO. When Mr. Bill Glavin (retired Vice Chair of Xerox) served as CEO of Xerox?s Rank Division, with responsibility for Xerox worldwide except for the US, he faced the dilemma of reducing prices of products to increase market share. He said “When I took over 80% of Xerox Corporation?s revenues in 1983, I immediately had a meeting with the CEO to discuss why we were losing market share drastically because of a few outdated products.

“In order to regain lost market share, we decided to reduce our prices for current products by 40%. If we did that, we would be better positioned to sell the new products, which were in the pipeline, to a larger market. The most effective way to do that required a huge sacrifice. It meant reducing gross revenues from $1.5 billion to $525 million, receiving lesser profits for the company, and decreasing the amount of salaries.

“But I believe in always doing what is right. That is my real motto in life. Because if you do that, things will fall in line sooner or later and at the same time, you would always have a clear direction to move in.

“So, before we implemented this plan, we communicated with our shareholders and Wall Street to make sure they understood what we were going to do and why. In the end, it worked. Even though our revenues that year were $575 million, we were better positioned to sell the new products to a larger market.”

The sitting CEOs had questions that ranged from how to handle the rebalancing act of spending more money on the company to get out of the recession or cutting down on costs to save money. Another question was on how to manage a leadership team that has worked hard during the recession and are now looking for rewards in the form of compensation and/or promotion when not all of them should be rewarded. For one CEO, the quandary was that some of the people on the company?s leadership team were not delegating well, so they did not have people under them who can fill their position as the company grows.

The answers the retired CEOs gave ranged from creating long-term compensation to the importance of effective delegation to ensuring everyone on the leadership team is aware, aligned and contributing to the vision.

On other topics, the retired CEO of Chase Bank talked about some key elements of leadership and management of business relationships in reference to integrating corporate cultures post merger or acquisition. On leadership, he mentioned the importance of staying true to one?s own natural leadership style, instead of just copying someone that had success.

For example, he and Jack Welch were not in agreement over how to manage M&A situations, but both were successful in their own style. Jack Welch would always keep the predominance of his organization over the acquired entity?s enterprise. The CEO of Chase Bank would instead delve into each entity?s organization, investigate relative strengths among the two, and integrate them into a unified company loaded with the best of both worlds. This required treating each organization as equals.

To close the meeting, the retired CEOs concluded that 1). It is important for CEOs to discuss the challenges they face with each other. 2). It is important for the CEO and everyone in the organization to know what the CEO?s basic principles are. 3). Most of the assessments people make of one another are negative. It is important for CEOs to think about the strengths of their people and build the company?s future on the resulting organization?s strengths, instead of focusing so much time on negatives.

As usual, the feedback from the forum was overwhelmingly positive, emphasizing the tremendous value there was to discussing critical business issues with such experienced and accomplished business leaders. As a result, several new CEOs have joined the Board and interest is growing for the next forum (scheduled for November 12th).

The Board Chairman, Ted Santos commented, "The quality of the roundtable discussions have remained quite high. Consequentially, the caliber of our members has increased. For us, that creates a welcomed challenge in continuing to exceed the expectations of our members".

For more information on The Board of Veteran CEOs, please call 888 471-3660.