Typical HBR jargon, but useful nonetheless

Effective executives also make sure that problems do not overwhelm opportunities. In most companies, the first page of the monthly management report lists key problems. It’s far wiser to list opportunities on the first page and leave problems for the second page. Unless there is a true catastrophe, problems are not discussed in management meetings until opportunities have been analyzed and properly dealt with.

^^HBR: What Makes an Effective Executive


Two related problems:

  1. “Gary Loveman, the former Harvard Business School professor who is now the CEO of Harrah’s Entertainment, commented that the higher you rise in an organization, the more people are going to tell you that you are right. This leads to an absence of critical thought and makes it difficult for senior leaders to get the truth.”
  2. “One biography of Nobel Prize–winning physicist Richard Feynman noted how the attention that came with winning the prize often made it impossible for the winners to continue the research work that brought them distinction in the first place”

How can executives maintain their sources of strength (what brought success in the first place) while taking on the capacities of their new role? Turns out this issue doesn’t just confront first time managers! Perhaps executives and middle managers could both benefit from more delegation…

“In spite of many studies showing the superior performance achieved through delegating decision-making authority, little devolution of power has occurred inside companies in the last 50 years.”

^^Power: Why Some People Have It and Others Don’t

Engineers make top performing CEOs

“What makes an engineering degree useful to people leading a business?

‘Studying engineering gives someone a practical, pragmatic orientation…
Engineering is about what works, and it breeds in you an ethos of building things that work—whether it’s a machine or a structure or an organization. Engineering also teaches you to try to do things efficiently and eloquently, with reliable outcomes, and with a margin of safety. It makes you think about costs versus performance. These are principles that can be deeply important when you think about organizations.'”

And speaking of one engineer who has done exceptionally well for himself and shareholders:

“In many ways, Bezos’s place atop the list says it all. Here’s a CEO who has frequently underperformed in the short term while continuing to make big bets on the future. Amazon often reports quarterly losses, even as sales continue to rise. And though the company is subject, like many firms, to dramatic share-price swings, Amazon and Bezos have a long-term track record of delivering shareholder value that is second to none.”

^^The Best-Performing CEOs in the World (Harvard Business Review)

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