The CEO’s skill set: articulate the vision, get people to follow you, and execute the plan. I think most people would agree that those are important skills for any leader.
Horowitz talks about these skills using three CEOs he admires.
Steve Jobs. Nobody could tell a story like Steve Jobs. He let everyone know that Apple was different, that Apple built beautiful products, that Apple designed products to fit into your life, and that ecosystems and harmony were important. His story and vision enabled him to both lead his team and sell products. The CEO is responsible for making sure the company’s story is told.
Bill Campbell is someone you might not have heard of. Bill Campbell was a VP at Apple and CEO of Intuit and Go Corporation. Horowitz says that many people cite working for Campbell as the best experience of their lives. People at Bill Campbell’s companies often use the term “my company” rather than “the company.” That’s the type of culture Campbell created. Bill Campbell knew how to treat employees and he knew how to be an authentic leader. The CEO – or any leader of a group – must set the tone for authentic leadership and a culture of trust and communication.
Andy Grove helped to build Intel. Maybe you’ve heard of them. At one point in Intel’s history, Andy Grove took the company away from the memory market and into the processor market. You’re probably thinking that was an obvious move, but at the time, it was extremely difficult. Intel made almost all of their money on memory at the time that decision was made. Executing that strategic change was an amazing business success story. Suffice to say, execution is important and must be led by the CEO.
You might be thinking ‘But I’m not a fucking CEO!’ If you are a product manager, you are the CEO of a product. And if you want to lead people, from any position, these skills matter.