You don’t get to the top without being very talented. But that doesn’t mean you can do it all — even if some big-time magazine cover subjects are regularly portrayed as all-knowing and omnipotent. It’s critical to have good teams surround good CEOs, but it’s also important to have CEOs recognize the limits of their talents. Here, three local leaders walk us through their thoughts on the topic.
bytes of knowledge
“I run a pretty technical company but my background is in business and marketing. I have a basic understanding of technology, databases and design and that was absolutely fine for me and for the business when we started. But as time went along, we were putting in place for clients much more sophisticated solutions and I absolutely didn’t have the technical expertise and depth to give customers the experience we promise them.
I learned a long time ago that it’s OK to say, ‘I’m not sure. Let me get with our technical team to find out.’ We hired someone to oversee our software development division whose job it is to provide the technical sales angle when we’re talking to prospects. And on the network engineering side, there are a lot of hardware and technical components that have to fit together seamlessly. It’s far too detailed for me to get involved in. Understanding the basic processes and staying abreast of the current technologies is what’s required of me when it comes to this. I do not have to know to the nth degree how the details fit together.
My main jobs are to hunt for business, to strategize and to set the culture. I can help set the business problem our client is facing, put it in the right terms so our technical people can design the best solution. I end up serving as a translator who also asks the questions that get us to a deeper level of technical sales. It’s actually a benefit not being technologically entrenched because I might come up with the same solution every time if I was. Our team can come up with a more sound solution if multiple people are contributing.”
“We started J. Alexander’s with the idea of having a strong culture and we recruit almost exclusively on campuses for hospitality graduates. Then we completely immerse them in our culture — we see it as the great separator. Our culture is almost cult-like, but in a good way.
We compete for management just like we compete for guests. We look for coaches who can be hands on day to