In his October 4, 2015, NY Times column “Corner Office” Adam Bryant presented his interview with Gary B. Smith, CEO of the Ciena Corporation: “Gary Smith of Ciena: Build a Culture on Trust and Respect.” In it Smith shares some of his history, his early influences and his experiences as he took on his first management roles. In the beginning of his career Smith recalls, he managed people by the numbers. If they hit their numbers they were fine, and if they failed to hit them, they were not. Then, at a certain point, there came a kind “ah ha” moment that changed his thinking. From then on he viewed his role as facilitating and creating an environment that people could be successful in.
It struck me that the role of facilitating and creating an environment that will nurture the success of next generation leaders is relatively rare within family businesses.
In defense of family businesses however, it’s a role not often found in businesses of any kind. Perhaps it’s an anomaly, found in the character of particular individuals. But this role is vital for family businesses that are interested in building a multi-generational legacy.
Sounds too vague as a strategy? Smith offers a first-step towards achieving it. He stated that upon understanding his role of facilitating others’ success, he learned to listen more than he talked– a working axiom for success in any kind of relationship.
If you have any thoughts or question about your own listening skills or those of others in your family business, contact through my website.
This is the first of three important management principles I pinpointed while reading Adam Bryant‘s interview with Gary B. Smith. I’ll share my thoughts on the second: “It’s all about people” in next week’s blog entry.