Thursday, February 15, 2018

Three Things I Learned as the CEO of a $21 Billion Company

1) Maintaining a commitment to people and community is good for your bottom line
As CEO of a large company, it can be easy to lose focus of what’s truly important. At Cox, we believe that we are defined by our actions and not our intentions. We’ve made meaningful progress against our social responsibility objectives by remaining true to our beliefs and by acting boldly – to give back to our communities, take care of one another and serve as good stewards of our natural environment. In fact, we have spent the last decade streamlining our operations and investing in new technologies to help us reach our ambitious sustainability goals: to send zero waste to landfill by 2024 and to become carbon and water neutral by 2044. These investments are even creating an opportunity to turn our passion for environmental sustainability into profit for our business.

Our history has taught us that what’s good for our people and our community is ultimately what’s good for our bottom line. We’ve found that our dedication to doing what is right has reaped tremendous benefits for the company at-large.

2) Pay it forward by sharing your knowledge and experience
Leading a business is a tremendous responsibility. While managing the day-to-day demands of the role, you must also do your part to make sure you leave the business in a better position than you found it. You can do this is by guiding and counseling the next generation of leaders. I benefited substantially from having mentors who helped me navigate my career. As my champions and supporters, they were instrumental in terms of the opportunities that I received and how I managed them.

Forty years later, I am still so grateful for those who took the time to answer my questions, take my calls, talk me off the ledge, prop me up when I needed it and share in my small victories.

For the last three years, I’ve had the pleasure of mentoring Alex Taylor, who will step into my role as CEO of Cox Enterprises in January. I couldn’t be more pleased to have watched Alex’s work and dedication as he has prepared himself for this role. We’re living in a world where change is happening quickly, and I am convinced that Alex has the drive, commitment and intellect to ensure that Cox Enterprises will continue to thrive through it all. As leaders, it is our job to ensure the viability of our company and our teams by paying it forward and preparing the next generation of leaders.

3) Act now, make mistakes, and move on
When it comes to mistakes, the key is to not make the same mistake twice. Acting now means not allowing yourself to be rocked back on your heels by the possibility of making a mistake. At Cox, I believe we’re successful because we act with conviction and are bold in our actions. While you should always be thoughtful about what you're doing, don’t allow the fear of making a mistake cause inaction. Oftentimes, the cost of inaction is greater than the cost of failed action. If you make the decision and move forward, you at least give yourself the chance to get it right. If you happen to make a mistake, don’t punish yourself. Learn from that mistake and move on.

In my role, I answer to our employees, customers and investors alike – all while ensuring that we stay true to our company’s core values. At Cox, we are fortunate to have a set of values that has sustained and guided our world-class leadership team for nearly 120 years. Those values continue to be as important to our success today as they were when Gov. James M. Cox bought his first newspaper in Dayton, Ohio, in 1898. As a leader, you must take the time to truly understand your company’s values and tell your teams about it – often and with passion. If you believe in your mission, they will, too.

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