Our sincere thanks to the thousands upon thousands of people who have interacted with this blog and who continue to download the white paper that set this in motion. Government change agents will be on break for the next few weeks but we look forward to keeping this blog active in early January. Our warmest regards to you your families this holiday season. What you can expect from us in the new year:
- We will post with less frequency (4-6 postings a month) with emphasis on leadership, organizational change, and change agents acting both in the government and within commercial space.
- We will continue to conduct in depth and exclusive interviews with government leaders who we believe have a massive impact. (We are currently speaking with a very senior level change agent from the Intel community, which should make for a fascinating pod cast by February.) Stay tuned.
Finally, as the year comes to a close, a recent article from Business Week caught my attention. This article focuses on 140 executives within the commercial space who are CEOs of publicly traded companies, and all of whom are under age 40. We have discussed Generation Y on this blog many times, but it is also nice to see Generation X stepping into leadership positions that provide massive global platforms. What struck me in this article is the notion that those who are most successful in their jobs (private or public sector) bring a certain passion to their role. Passion propels them. Passion enables them to take risks, make the case for change, and then to perform. As our government continues to evolve and transform into a customer led and agile enterprise, it will be these change agents who enact change. And they can only do so if they bring passion. Why would you take a job that you did not feel strongly about? Take a read from a few sections within the article:
Ready for RiskAnd like having children, CEOs typically say the job is worth any sleepless nights. “I have to say I really love it,” says Michael Chasen, 35-year-old head of school software developer Blackboard (BBBB). “I thrive on the fast pace and excitement in running a fast-growth, successful company.”
The people who become CEO at a young age are increasingly unafraid to take risks, notes Peter Cappelli, a management professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. “They’re willing to look for opportunities to stand out,” Cappelli explains. Still, he cautions that bigger appetites for risk may have unwanted consequences, citing the Enron scandal.
Today’s young CEOs are likely to have a better understanding of technology and globalization than did the bright up-and-comers of decades past, adds Michael Feiner, a management professor at Columbia University Graduate School of Business and author of The Feiner Points of Leadership. “The biggest challenge is the leading-people piece,” Feiner says. “It takes a while for even really smart CEOs to understand it’s people first, strategy second. That comes from experience and mistakes, and I don’t think there’s a shortcut.”
Meanwhile, new CEOs are taking on the mantle at a time of unprecedented turnover. Corner-office job changes this year are on pace to top last year’s record 1,322 departures, according to Chicago consulting firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas (see BusinessWeek, 10/30/06, “The Great CEO Exodus“). Such big-name companies as Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY), Ford (F) and Viacom (VIA, VIA.B) were among those making CEO switches in 2006.
Ultimately, a CEO of any age needs to have a passion for the job. “You can have all the products and packaging and scale that you need to perform, but really none of that takes you any place if you don’t have the right attitude about the business,” says Mariner Kemper, 34-year-old head of Kansas City (Mo.)-based financial services company UMB Financial (UMB).
The best CEOs grow into the position because they followed what excited them, not because they set out to become CEOs, adds Mark Vadon, 36-year-old chief of online jewelry retailer Blue Nile (NILE). “Do something that you really love doing,” Vadon advises. “If you’re not doing something that you really like, you’re not going to be that successful at it.”