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A new CEO drives his point home

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers

As a leader, your words carry immense weight. Even a seemingly minor comment can unexpectedly make a major impact.

Before Mark Weinberger accepted the position of CEO of Ernst & Young in 2013, he talked it over with his family. Soliciting input from his wife and four children, Weinberger agreed that he would become CEO only if he could still remain a part of their lives. He was a highly engaged father and didn’t want to give that up.

Weinberger, 55, insisted that as CEO he’d change the culture of the global professional services firm. He knew that midcareer parents were quitting to spend more time at home—and that others faced burnout from overwork—so he sought to boost morale and lower turnover by emphasizing the value of balancing work and family.

The message really hit home when he took a business trip to China. Addressing the company’s employees based there, he concluded his speech with an apology: He knew that they had arranged a big dinner reception, but he was going to skip it.

The new CEO told the crowd that he needed to rush to the airport after his presentation to catch a flight home.

Why? A year before, he promised his daughter that he’d take her to her driver’s exam—and he intended to keep his promise.

Predictably, news spread of his comments. Ernst & Young has 230,000 employees in 150 countries, and many of them heard what Weinberger said and thought, “If our CEO acts on his priorities like this, then I can too.”

— Adapted from “Leading By Example,” Scott Behson, www.fathersworkandfamily.com.

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