I love learning lessons from a CEO. I am a younger leader, but have been a leader in different capacities for many years. Through my time in leadership, I have always been fascinated by CEOs because they have reached the top leadership position in their organization. There are many lessons from a CEO that you can learn as you review their behavior and responses to different actions.
A few years ago I read a case study about Gary Loveman and his transition as the CEO of Harrah’s. The case study explained that he went from being a college professor to the CEO of a large organization without a long history of leadership. When he joined Harrah’s, he started out as the COO and then became the CEO after five years. This case study helped me learn lessons from a CEO.
Four Lessons From A CEO
Gary Loveman changed the system at Harrah’s. He changed the system because of the person he was and the approach he took to leadership. There were four lessons from a CEO that we can learn from his success.
1. He gained credibility with the employees/management team.
2. He worked to understand the existing system
3. He had high expectations.
4. He led by example.
1. Gain Credibility
To gain credibility, he spent time at the various company properties. He also made himself available to the employees, in a way that they felt comfortable. As a new leader, people are automatically going to be skeptical of you as a leader. When you have an open door policy and do everything you can to learn the organization, people will trust you and you will begin to gain credibility. When Gary Loveman took over, it was extremely important for him to go amongst the people to gain their trust. Through his interactions, he gained credibility with the employees and management team.
2. Understand the System
As a leader, it can be very easy to have a tendency to view things from the 30,000 ft level making changes. This method has many weaknesses because from a 30,000 ft level leaders are unable to see the underlying issues that exist. By going to the various properties, Gary Loveman was able to see how the company currently operated. He saw the strengths and weaknesses of the existing system and recognized a sense of defeatism and victimization within the company. Once he understood the existing system, he knew which changes to implement. As a leader, if you first dig in to find out what is going on in the existing system, you will be much more prepared and able to fix the problems. While the leader is digging in, they are also able to gain trust and credibility with the employees which ties in to the first point.
3. High Expectations
From the day Gary Loveman started at Harrah’s, he set high expectations. The high expectations were just as much for himself as they were for all the employees. By setting high expectations for himself and others, Gary Loveman raised the bar on performance within the company. As a leader, he let everyone know his expectations so they knew his standard of excellence. That brought out the best in the people he led which led to much higher overall performance by the group.
4. Lead By Example
Gary Loveman chose to lead by example. He taught that if a leader sets high expectations but doesn’t live up to them himself, the group will have no desire to meet the expectations. Gary not only talked the talk, but also walked the walk. He demonstrated that he didn’t expect anymore of his employees than he did of himself. People will generally follow the example of their leaders.
Gary Loveman made significant improvements at Harrah’s when he was the COO and CEO that transformed the company and caused a higher standard of performance. There are also many other CEOs that have made major transformations within their organizations. Lessons from a CEO can be found as you study their stories and the organizational changes they make.
What lessons from a CEO have especially impacted your life? In addition to CEOs, what leadership lessons have your learned that have impacted your life? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!