Successful CEOs Find Opportunity Among the Obstacles
by Richard J. Alley
The country has just gone through one of the things that makes our nation great — change. The peaceful exchange of power every four or eight years is a tenet that sets us apart from so many other governments around the world. It is a benchmark for how we should conduct ourselves in business, politics, and social situations. We can disagree, we can advocate for our own ideas and philosophies and visions, but in the end compromise and mutual respect always win out.
As America’s office of CEO was changing hands, we were wrapping up this issue of Inside Memphis Business, our CEO of the Year Awards issue. I delighted in reading the profiles put together by Jon Sparks, and learning just what it is that makes each of these four people tick. And one thing stands out among them, as I’m sure must stand out for anyone in a leadership position — the enthusiastic embrace of change.
For these four, such situations have been an opportunity more than an obstacle.
Bryan Jordan and First Horizon weathered the 2008 recession to ultimately come out stronger, with profits at or near record levels and a stock price that climbed 38 percent last year; Debbie Eddlestone successfully navigated the labyrinth of a digital medical records conversion and a number of partnerships and mergers to make Stern Cardiovascular one of the largest such foundations in the region; Stacy McCall left the petroleum oil fields to start up ServiceMaster franchises in Alabama and here in Memphis, creating a culture that gives back to the community on a regular basis; and Ned Canty turned traditional marketing on its ear to make Opera Memphis — and opera — a household name.
Another evident characteristic is the importance these leaders place on their teams. The trust and respect they have for those who work for them in every capacity is what, they say, keeps their organizations moving forward and growing at every new turn. I hope that the focus we place on the bosses reflects on their troops as well.
It’s a new year and a new administration, and change is in the air. Will you follow the example the country’s founders and the CEOs profiled on the pages here have set and see the changes, not as a reason to quit or retreat, but as an opportunity to make something better?
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