Most CEOs say they want transparency. Mark Leslie means it.
Leslie ran two firms before becoming chairman and CEO of Veritas Software in 1990. He knew from experience that when senior executives make decisions based on shared information with their employees, it decreases office politics and helps everyone buy into the company’s strategy.
At Veritas, he hosted weekly employee gatherings where he’d cover all relevant news and information about the company. As Veritas grew, he initiated monthly meetings for all global managers. Leslie and his executive team updated the managers on earnings projections and other measures.
By revealing as much information as he could, he sought to stifle the rumor mill and minimize the need for internal secrecy. He also figured he’d build good will by leveling with everyone and unclogging communication channels.
Leslie acknowledges that trust can backfire. Putting your faith in employees can occasionally lead to betrayal, but Leslie concludes that’s a small price to pay when striving to build lasting relationships based on honesty.
A CEO who shares information turns everyone into entrepreneurs. Support personnel are more apt to take risks.
Leslie cautions that if employees suspect a CEO is faking it, trust can collapse. He champions authenticwhere you promote organizational values that truly reflect your character and belief system.
Genuineness and information sharing paid off for Leslie. In his 11-year run as CEO, Veritas (now known as Symantec Corp.) grew from 12 to 6,000 employees. Its annual revenue soared from $95,000 to $1.5 billion.
— Adapted from “The Masters,” Christopher Hann, Entrepreneur.
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