Memos From The CEOs

Marked urgent: Richard Parsons, Ann Fudge and Ken Chenault offer powerful lessons in leadership.

you’re already in your career, don’t expect a network of strangers or acquaintances to lay the path to your success.

Execution — performance — is the bottom line measure for everything we attempt to do. To be successful, our EQ, or execution quotient, must equal our IQ. This is something I stress to American Express employees around the world. Network off of your performance.

Fourth, although security is nice, don’t shy away from organizations in chaos. In business, the greatest opportunities often lies in companies experiencing rapid growth and in those companies forced to reinvent themselves because they are in bad shape.

For African Americans, I think this is especially important, because a company undergoing crucial change is more willing to promote on merit than to hold back to serve old prejudices. American Express is a company that has absolutely thrived on rapid — even aggressive — change. Does it make things more difficult? Yes, at times.

But it can also make the environment, and your role in it, far more stimulating.
Fifth, recognize that being one of the only blacks — whether in a classroom, in a department, on a workteam, in an organization, or just in a meeting — automatically makes you very visible. Use this to help yourself. Look at it as an opportunity, and leverage that opportunity by making a visible contribution.

ANN F. FUDGE, CEO, YOUNG & RUBICAM
SUBJECT: DON’T MOVE AWAY FROM BEING WHO YOU ARE
There’s a lot of talk these days about mentors and sponsors. But, for me, what’s far more essential is internal focus and what I can learn to advance. And it is very important that an individual understand his or her core beliefs, because those basic values come through in everything you say and do and, in the end, those are the things that can propel you or hold you back.

My core beliefs are honesty, integrity, and dealing with people as I want to be dealt with. I use that as a basis for the things I stand for, and for deciding when to make a compromise. Sometimes people have different ways of reaching an end goal. As long as I get there, I am willing to compromise on the approach. But I don’t compromise on credibility and integrity or on treating people fairly.

Time and again my personal experience has shown that credibility is perhaps the key component in the leadership mix. You’ve heard the phrase, "I trust him enough to be in a foxhole with him. "That pretty much sums it up. People want to believe that in a tight situation, they can trust their leader. They can’t operate at peak performance if there is a question of trust, of credibility.

We have to stop looking at what other people are doing and how other people are leading their lives, and decide on what is right for each of us as individuals. When we look at others and try to pace ourselves

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