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如何成为CEO?让525位职场精英为你解答

更新时间:2017-11-1 12:01:53 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

How to Be a C.E.O., From a Decade’s Worth of Them
如何成为CEO?让525位职场精英为你解答

It started with a simple idea: What if I sat down with chief executives, and never asked them about their companies?

这一切始于一个简单的念头:如果我和首席执行官们坐在一处,却全然不问及他们的公司,会怎么样?

The notion occurred to me roughly a decade ago, after spending years as a reporter and interviewing CEOs about many of the expected things: their growth plans, the competition, the economic forces driving their industries. But the more time I spent doing this, the more I found myself wanting to ask instead about more expansive themes — not about pivoting, scaling or moving to the cloud, but how they lead their employees, how they hire, and the life advice they give or wish they had received.

我在大约十年前想到了这个点子,之前我做了很多年记者,每每在采访首席执行官的时候问一些符合预期的事情:他们促进增长的计划,竞争态势,驱动他们所在行业的经济力量。但我发现自己花越多时间做这样的事情,就越是想要问及更广泛的主题——不提转型、扩张、迈向云端,而是问问他们如何领导员工,如何聘用人员,以及他们给出的或希望有人能给他们的人生建议。

That led to 525 Corner Office columns, and weekly reminders that questions like these can lead to unexpected places.

由此有了525篇“角落办公室”(Corner Office)专栏文章,它们每周都会提醒我们,这样的问题可以引出意料之外的答案。

I met an executive who grew up in a dirt-floor home, and another who escaped the drugs and gangs of her dangerous neighborhood. I learned about different approaches to building culture, from doing away with titles to offering twice-a-month housecleaning to all employees as a retention tool.

我遇到的一位首席执行官小时候住在泥土地面的房子里,还有一位逃离了她所在的那个危险社区的毒品和黑帮。我听说了各种不同的培育企业文化的方法,从去掉头衔,到每月两次为所有员工的家提供保洁服务,作为挽留人才的手段。

And I have been endlessly surprised by the creative approaches that chief executives take to interviewing people for jobs, including tossing their car keys to a job candidate to drive them to a lunch spot, or asking them how weird they are, on a scale of 1 to 10.

此外,首席执行官们面试应聘者的创造性方法不断让我感到惊奇,其中包括把车钥匙扔给应聘者,让对方开车带自己去一个吃午餐的地方,或者问应聘者他们有多古怪,评分范围是1到10。

Granted, not all chief executives are fonts of wisdom. And some of them, as headlines regularly remind us, are deeply challenged people.

诚然,并非所有首席执行官都是智慧的化身。而且正如新闻报道常常提醒我们,他们中的一些人是存在很大缺陷的。

That said, there’s no arguing that CEOs have a rare vantage point for spotting patterns about management, leadership and human behavior.

即便如此,有一点也毫无疑问:首席执行官们是在管理、领导和人类行为中发现规律的一个极佳观测点。

After almost a decade of writing the Corner Office column, this will be my final one — and from all the interviews, and the 5 million words of transcripts from those conversations, I have learned valuable leadership lessons and heard some great stories. Here are some standouts.

我写“角落办公室”专栏已有将近十年,这会是最后一篇——从所有采访以及500万字的谈话记录中,我学到了领导力方面的宝贵经验教训,听说了不少精彩的故事。下文列出了其中格外突出的一些。

People often try to crack the code for the best path to becoming a chief executive. Do finance people have an edge over marketers? How many international postings should you have? A variety of experiences is good, but at what point does breadth suggest a lack of focus?

人们常常试图破解成为首席执行官的最佳途径。财务人员比营销人员更有优势吗?你应该派驻到过多少个国家?经验多样化是很好,但在多大程度上,经验广泛也意味着缺乏侧重点?

It’s a natural impulse. In this age of Moneyball and big data, why not look for patterns?

这是一个自然的冲动。在如今这个《点球成金》(Moneyball)和大数据的时代,为什么不寻找规律呢?

The problem is that the world doesn’t really work that way. There are too many variables, many of them beyond your control, including luck, timing and personal chemistry.

问题是,这个世界并不是这样运行的。有太多的变量,很多都不是你能控制的,包括运气、时机和个人性格契合度。

The career trajectories of the CEOs I’ve interviewed are so varied that spotting trends is difficult, and a surprising number of the executives do not fit the stereotype of the straight-A student and class president who seemed destined to run a big company someday. I’ve met CEOs who started out in theater, music and teaching. Others had surprisingly low grades in school.

我采访过的首席执行官们的职业轨迹大相径庭,想从中找出规律很难,而且,我们对将来注定要经营大公司的全优生和班长的刻板印象,和许多首席执行官并不相符。我见过一些戏剧、音乐和教育领域出身的首席执行官。还有些人在学校的成绩很差。

So what explains it? Are there some qualities — beyond the obvious, like hard work and perseverance — that explain why these people ultimately got the top jobs?

那么,如何解释这些现象呢?除了努力和有毅力这些显而易见的品质外,还有哪些品质可以解释这些人为什么最终获得了最高职位?

I’ve noticed three recurring themes.

我注意到三个反复出现的主题。

First, they share a habit of mind that is best described as “applied curiosity.” They tend to question everything. They want to know how things work, and wonder how they can be made to work better. They’re curious about people and their back stories.

首先,他们有一个共同的思维习惯,对它的最佳描述是“实用的好奇心”。他们往往质疑一切。他们想知道事情是如何运转的,还想知道如何才能运转得更好。他们对人以及他们背后的故事感到好奇。

Second, CEOs seem to love a challenge. Discomfort is their comfort zone.

第二,首席执行官们似乎喜欢挑战。不舒适是他们的舒适区。

“Usually, I really like whatever the problem is. I like to get close to the fire,” said Arkadi Kuhlmann, a veteran banking chief. “Some people have a desire for that, I’ve noticed, and some people don’t. I just naturally gravitate to the fire. So I think that’s a characteristic that you have, that’s in your DNA.”

“通常,不管遇到什么问题,我真的都很喜欢。我喜欢靠近火,”资深银行业高管阿卡迪·库尔曼(Arkadi Kuhlmann)说。“我发现,有些人有这种欲望,有些人没有。我是天生被火吸引。所以我认为,那是你的一个特点,在你的DNA里。”

The third theme is how they managed their own careers on their way to the top. They focus on doing their current job well, and that earns them promotions.

第三个主题是他们如何在通往顶峰的路上管理自己的职业。他们专注于把目前的工作做好,以便获得晋升。

That may sound obvious. But many people can seem more concerned about the job they want than the job they’re doing.

这可能听起来显而易见。但很多人似乎更关心他们想要的工作,而非他们正在做的工作。

That doesn’t mean keeping ambition in check. By all means, have career goals, share them with your bosses, and learn everything you can about how the broader business works. And yes, be savvy about company politics (watch out in particular for the show ponies who try to take credit for everything).

这并不意味着没有雄心。无论如何,都要有职业目标,与上司们分享你的目标,学习你能学到的关于更广泛商业运作的一切。是的,要了解公司政治(尤其要注意那些试图把所有功劳都揽在自己身上的人)。

But focus on building a track record of success, and people will keep betting on you.

不过,还是要专注于建立一个成功的履历,那样人们才会继续把赌注押在你身上。

The Most Important Thing About Leadership, Part I

关于领导力最重要的事——第一部分

Because leadership is so hard, there is a boundless appetite for somebody to come along and say, “Here’s the one thing you need to know.”

因为做领导是一件很难的事,所以人们总是很愿意听人说:“有一点你必须明白。”

If only it were that simple. But one thing isn’t necessarily more important than another. And people are, well, complicated. Better to understand leadership as a series of paradoxes.

要是真这么简单就好了。某一点不一定比另一点更重要。人很复杂。最好把做领导看作一系列悖论。

Leaders, for example, need humility to know what they don’t know, but have the confidence to make a decision amid the ambiguity. A bit of chaos can help foster creativity and innovation, but too much can feel like anarchy. You need to be empathetic and care about people, but also be willing to let them go if they’re dragging down the team. You have to create a sense of urgency, but also have the patience to bring everybody on the team along.

例如,领导者需要谦虚,需要去了解他们不知道的事情,但他/她必须有信心在不确定的情况下做出决定。有点混乱有助于创造和创新,但太过混乱会让人感觉处于无政府状态。你需要同情、关心别人,但如果有些人拖垮了团队,你也要准备好让他们离开。你必须创造一种紧迫感,同时也要有耐心把团队中的每一个人都带上。

The Most Important Thing About Leadership, Part II

关于领导力最重要的事情——第二部分

Go ahead. Twist my arm.

有本事强迫我照你的意思办。

Despite what I just wrote, if you were to force me to rank the most important qualities of effective leadership, I would put trustworthiness at the top.

尽管我是这么写的,但如果非要列出高效能领导所必须具备的几项最重要的素质,我会把诚信可靠排在第一位。

We all have a gut sense of our bosses, based on our observations and experiences: Do we trust them to do the right thing? Will they be straight with us and not shave corners of truth? Do they own their mistakes; give credit where credit is due; care about their employees as people as opposed to assets? Do they manage down as well as up?

我们都会根据自己的观察和经验对老板产生某些直觉:我们相信他们的做法对头吗?他们会对我们坦诚相待,不隐瞒真相吗?他们也会有自己的错误吗;他们会奖惩分明吗?他们会真正关怀员工,而不仅仅是把他们视为资产吗?他们是否既擅长向上管理又擅长向下管理?

“If you want to lead others, you’ve got to have their trust, and you can’t have their trust without integrity,” said James Hackett, the chief executive of Ford Motor Co., who ran Steelcase when I spoke with him.

“如果你想领导他人,就必须得到他们的信任,不真诚的人是得不到信任的,”福特汽车公司(Ford Motor Co.)首席执行官詹姆斯·哈克特(James Hackett)说。

A close cousin of trustworthiness is how much you respect the people who work for you. It’s hard to argue with this logic from Jeffrey Katzenberg, the Hollywood executive:

你应该尊重和你一起工作的人,就像尊重值得信赖的自家亲戚。好莱坞高管杰弗里·卡岑伯格(Jeffrey Katzenberg)的逻辑很难找到破绽:

“By definition if there’s leadership, it means there are followers, and you’re only as good as the followers,” he said. “I believe the quality of the followers is in direct correlation to the respect you hold them in. It’s not how much they respect you that is most important. It’s actually how much you respect them. It’s everything.”

“顾名思义,只要有领导,就会有下属,你其实并不比下属强多少,”他说。“我相信,下属的素质同你给予他们的尊重直接相关。重要的不是他们有多尊重你。而是你有多么尊重他们。这是最关键的。”

‘Culture Is Almost Like a Religion’

“文化简直就像宗教”

It’s a predictable rite of passage as many companies evolve. At some point, the leadership team will go through the exercise of defining a set of values to shape the culture of their company. These lists can be all over the place — lengthy or brief, predictable or quirky.

随着公司的逐步发展,可以想见,发展企业文化是很多公司的必经之路。到了一定阶段,领导团队会确立一整套价值观,从而塑造公司文化。这样的价值观清单到处都是——有的长有的短,有的可想而知,有的千奇百怪。

But the exercise raises an obvious question: Are there some best practices? I have noticed some patterns.

但是这样的方式产生了一个显而易见的问题:在实践中有没有什么最佳做法?我注意到一些规律。

Shorter is generally better than longer. In fact, when I ask chief executives about their companies’ values, it’s not unusual for them to struggle to remember them all if there are more than five bullet points. And if the boss can’t remember them, will anyone else?

一般来说,少比多好。事实上,当我向首席执行官们问起公司的价值观时,如果重点超过五个,他们往往就很难记清。如果连老板自己都记不住,那别人还能记住吗?

Granted, others might disagree with me on this point, including Ray Dalio, founder of the massive Bridgewater Associates hedge fund, who has hundreds of principles for working at his firm. But here’s a thought experiment: What if every company that has codified its values conducted a pop quiz with employees to see if they know them all?

当然,有些人可能不同意我的这个观点,包括非常成功的对冲基金布里奇沃特投资公司(Bridgewater Associates)的创始人雷·达利奥(Ray Dalio),他为公司员工制定了数百条原则。但是不妨做一个思想实验:给那些把价值观写入明文章程的公司的员工做个突击测验,看看这么多内容他们是不是都知道,那么会怎样呢?

Values need reinforcement beyond repetition. Many companies, for example, make their values part of the hiring and firing process, and hand out awards to people who bring the values to life. “The culture is almost like a religion,” said Robert L. Johnson, chairman of the RLJ Cos., an investment firm. “People buy into it and they believe in it. And you can tolerate a little bit of heresy, but not a lot.”

价值观需要不断强化,而不仅仅是简单的重复。例如,许多公司都会将其价值观纳入招聘和解聘过程,并且奖励能够实践这些价值观的员工。“文化简直就像宗教,”投资公司RLJ Cos.董事长罗伯特·L·约翰逊(Robert L. Johnson)说。“人们接受它,信仰它。你可能会容忍一点异端,但不会太多。”

Men vs. Women (Sigh)

男与女的比较(唉)

Are there differences in the way men and women lead? I’ve been asked this question countless times. Early on, I looked hard to spot differences. But any generalizations never held up.

男人和女人领导的方式有差异吗?我被无数次问过这个问题。早些时候,我非常努力地去发现差异。但是任何概括性的说法最终都站不住脚。

Sure, there are differences in the way people lead. But in my experience interviewing executives for the past decade, they are more likely to be driven by other factors, like whether they are introverts or extroverts, more analytical or creative, and even whether they grew up in a large or small family.

当然,人们领导的方式有种种差异。但是,根据我过去十年采访众多高管的经验,这些差异更有可能是由其他因素导致的,比如性格是内向型还是外向型,思维方式是分析型还是创意型,甚至成长环境是大家庭还是小家庭。

That said, there is no doubt that women face much stronger headwinds than men to get the top jobs. And many of those headwinds remain once they become CEOs.

诚然,要想获得最高职位,女性无疑要比男性面临更强大的阻力。其中许多阻力直至她们成为首席执行官之后依然存在。

But the actual work of leadership? It’s the same, regardless of whether a man or a woman is in charge. You have to set a vision, build cultural guardrails, foster a sense of teamwork, and make tough calls. All of that requires balancing the endless paradoxes of leadership, and doing it in a way that inspires trust.

但是对于实际的领导工作来说呢?都是一样的,不管负责人是男还是女,他们都必须设定愿景,建立文化氛围,培养团队精神,做出艰难的决定。所有这一切都需要平衡无数的领导悖论,与此同时还要激发起他人的信任。

I Have Just One Question for You

我只有一个问题要问你

A big surprise has been all the different answers I’ve heard to the simple question I’ve posed to each leader: How do you hire? Even in recent weeks, I was still hearing job-interview questions I had never heard before.

我向每个领导者都提出过一个简单的问题:你是怎么雇人的?结果听到了各种各样的不同答案,实在令人惊喜。就在几个星期前,我仍然能够听到前所未闻的面试问题。

Just last month, for instance, Daniel Schwartz, the chief executive of the parent company of Burger King, told me that he likes to ask candidates, “Are you smart or do you work hard?” (Yes, there is a right answer, he said: “You want hard workers. You’d be surprised how many people tell me, ‘I don’t need to work hard, I’m smart.’ Really? Humility is important.”)

比如上个月,汉堡王(Burger King)母公司的首席执行官丹尼尔·施瓦茨(Daniel Schwartz)告诉我,他喜欢问应聘者:“你是聪明人,还是勤奋工作的人?”(是的,这个问题有正确答案,他说:“公司希望录取勤奋的雇员,你会惊讶于有那么多人告诉我,‘我不需要勤奋工作,我很聪明。’真的吗?谦卑可是很重要的。”)

Their creativity is no doubt born of necessity. Candidates are so trained to anticipate the usual questions — “What are your biggest strengths and weaknesses?” — that CEOs have to come up with bank-shot questions to get around the polished facades.

他们的创意无疑是出于现实需要。应聘者都是训练有素的,常见的问题他们都能料得——“你最大的优点和缺点是什么?”——首席执行官们必须提出猝不及防的问题,才能绕过他们精心修饰的外表。

This has inspired a kind of running game I’ve played with many chief executives: If you could ask somebody only one question, and you had to decide on the spot whether to hire them based on their answer, what would it be?

这启发我和许多首席执行官玩起了一个游戏:如果你只能问一个问题,你必须根据对这个问题的回答当场决定是否聘用这个人,你会问什么呢?

I’d nominate a question that surfaced during my interview with Bob Brennan, an executive director at CA Technologies, a software firm, who was the chief of Iron Mountain, the records-management company, when I spoke with him.

我推荐鲍勃·布伦南(Bob Brennan)接受采访时所说的问题,他目前是CA科技(CA Technologies)软件公司的执行董事,在我采访他的时候,他在记录管理公司铁山(Iron Mountain)担任首席执行官。

“I want to know how willing people are to really talk about themselves,” Brennan said. “So if I ask you, ‘What are the qualities you like least and most in your parents?’ you might bristle at that, or you might be very curious about it, or you’ll just literally open up to me. And obviously if you bristle at that, it’s too vulnerable an environment for you.”

“我想知道人们是否真正乐于谈论自己,”布伦南说。“所以,如果我问你,‘你的父母最喜欢你身上什么品质,最不喜欢什么品质?’你听了可能会勃然大怒,或者好奇我为什么这样问,又或者只会坦白告诉我一切。显然,如果你发怒,那么你适应环境的能力就太脆弱了。”

I’ll let the human resources professionals debate whether such a question is out of bounds.

问出这样的问题是否太过分了?我把这一点留给人力资源专家们去辩论。

But I’m hard pressed to think of a better crystal ball for predicting how somebody is likely to behave in the weeks, months and years after you hire them. After all, people often adopt the qualities of their parents that they like, and work hard to do the opposite of what they don’t like.

但是,我觉得这个问题堪称最好的水晶球,可以预测申请者受雇之后几周、几个月乃至几年之内的表现。毕竟,人们经常会表现出父母所喜爱的素质,努力不做父母不喜欢的事。

My Favorite Story

我最喜欢的故事

I heard it from Bill Green, who was the chief executive of Accenture, the consulting firm, at the time of our interview. I asked him about his approach to hiring, and near the end of our conversation, he shared this anecdote:

这是我在采访咨询公司埃森哲(Accenture)的首席执行官比尔·格林(Bill Green)时听来的。我问他是怎样招聘的,在采访接近尾声的时候,他分享了这件趣事:

“I was recruiting at Babson College. This was in 1991. The last recruit of the day — I get this résumé. I get the blue sheet attached to it, which is the form I’m supposed to fill out with all this stuff and his résumé attached to the top. His résumé is very light — no clubs, no sports, no nothing. Babson, 3.2. Studied finance. Work experience: Sam’s Diner, references on request.

“我去巴布森学院(Babson College)招聘。那是1991年的事。招聘到了最后一天——我拿到这么一份简历,它后面附着一张蓝色的表单,上面是所有我要求填写的东西,他的简历就写在最上面。他的简历很短——没有俱乐部经历,没有运动经历,什么都没有。只有:巴布森,学分绩点3.2。金融专业。工作经验:山姆餐厅,详情请垂询。

“It’s the last one of the day, and I’ve seen all these people come through strutting their stuff and they’ve got their portfolios and semester studying abroad. Here comes this guy. He sits. His name is Sam, and I say: ‘Sam, let me just ask you. What else were you doing while you were here?’ He says: Well, Sam’s Diner. That’s our family business, and I leave on Friday after classes, and I go and work till closing. I work all day Saturday till closing, and then I work Sunday until I close, and then I drive back to Babson.’ I wrote, ‘Hire him,’ on the blue sheet. He had character. He faced a set of challenges. He figured out how to do both.”

“那是当天的最后一份简历,我已经看过了各种各样的卖弄,各种作品集,还有海外学期的经历。这个家伙来了,他往我对面一坐。他的名字就叫山姆,我说:‘山姆,我问你。你上学期间除了学习还干什么?’他说:‘嗯,山姆餐厅。这是我家的生意,我星期五上完课就过去工作,干到打烊。我星期六整天都在那儿工作,干到打烊,我星期天整天都在那儿工作,干到打烊,然后我就开车回巴布森。’“我在蓝色表单上写道,“雇他”。他有性格。他面临一系列的挑战,找到了二者兼顾的办法。”

Green elaborated on the quality he had just described.

格林进一步阐述了他所说的这种品质。

“It’s work ethic,” he said. “You could see the guy had charted a path for himself to make it work with the situation he had. He didn’t ask for any help. He wasn’t victimized by the thing. He just said, ‘That’s my dad’s business, and I work there.’ Confident. Proud.”

“这是敬业精神,”他说。“你可以看出这个人为适应环境,给自己设计了一条道路。他没有要求任何帮助。他没有成为环境的受害者。他只是说,‘这是我爸爸的生意,我就在那儿工作。’自信。骄傲。”

Best Career and Life Advice

关于职业与生活的最佳建议

My vote for career advice goes to something I heard from Joseph Plumeri, the vice chairman of First Data, a payments-processing company, and former chief executive of Willis Group Holdings. His biggest career inflection points, he told me, came from chance meetings, giving rise to his advice: “Play in traffic.”

我心目中的最佳职业建议来自支付处理公司第一数据(First Data)的副董事长以及韦莱集团(Willis Group Holdings)的前首席执行官约瑟夫·普卢梅里(Joseph Plumeri)。他告诉我,自己职业生涯的最大转折点都来自偶然的会面,因此他建议:“多往外跑”。

“It means that if you go push yourself out there and you see people and do things and participate and get involved, something happens,” he said. “Both of my great occasions in life happened by accident simply because I showed up.”

“这意味着,如果你多走出去,你就能多认识人,多做事情,主动参与和被动卷入,这样就会发生一些事情,”他说。“我生活中的两件大好事都是偶然发生的,只是因为当时我在场。”

Plumeri learned this lesson firsthand when he was looking for a job while in law school. He was knocking on doors of various firms, including one called Cogan, Berlind, Weill & Levitt. He managed to get an audience with one of the partners, Sandy Weill, who informed the young Plumeri that this was a brokerage firm, not a law firm.

普卢梅里最早学到这一课是在法学院读书期间找工作的时候。他挨家挨户拜访各种律所,也去了一家名叫科根、柏林德、韦尔与莱维特(Cogan,Berlind,Weill&Levitt)的公司。他设法和其中一个合作伙伴桑迪·韦尔(Sandy Weill)一起聊了聊,对方告诉年轻的普卢梅里,这是一家经纪公司,不是律师事务所。

Despite the awkward moment, something clicked, and Weill gave him a part-time job. And Plumeri moved up as the firm evolved into Citigroup, and he spent 32 years there, many of them in top jobs.

尽管这一刻非常尴尬,但两人还是成了朋友,韦尔给了他一份兼职工作。随着这家公司发展成为花旗集团(Citigroup),普卢梅里也获得了升职,他在那里工作了32年,其中很多职务都是最高领导。

“I tell people, just show up, get in the game, go play in traffic,” Plumeri said. “Something good will come of it, but you’ve got to show up.”

“我告诉人们,多多露面,参与其中,多往外跑,”普卢梅里说。“好事总会来的,但你必须在场才行。”

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