10 lessons from my first week as CEO

It has been an incredible first week in the role. Week one has culminated tonight in sharing initial thoughts and plans with the whole firm in our Town Hall meeting.

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There were 10 things I have been reflecting on from my first week in the role:

  1. My diary/schedule has come up in conversation lots of times this week so I thought I would share this. I often get asked if I get exhausted from an average day of 10-15 meetings or standing up presenting all day (as I did on Thursday). When I tell people that “I am actually energised by it, because I’m an extrovert” people often are surprised. Most people think introverts are quiet and extroverts are loud. This is not strictly true. Introversion and extroversion is better defined by ‘what energises you and what drains you’. If you get your energy from people (like I do) then you’re probably an extrovert. Introverts (like my wife) get energised by quiet, silence and solitude. When I learnt this a few years ago it transformed my career and life.
  2. I can get so consumed in meetings, the adrenaline flowing through can stop me being able to write, read, empathise or think. I have found that breath control (mindfulness) is really helpful in being able to manage my adrenaline and mindset. We have had a monk come and teach the whole office work-based mindfulness over the past couple of months. I think my colleagues will find this a really powerful life-hack.
  3. Every time I have ever been involved in or implemented change I have wished we had done it quicker. Change must be implemented quickly because uncertainty causes anxiety. People get stressed, start losing sleep, feeling anxious, etc. These are irrational and emotional responses that we need to be sensitive to. Some people would rather have a quicker decision that they don’t agree with than be faced with endless uncertainty. I have to keep balancing this with not going too fast.
  4. So often in the past week, I think I have said something clearly but that doesn’t mean people hear what I have said. People hear us through their own filters. It amazing how many times people walk away with a different interpretation. I find you need to repeat something multiple times consistently, for everyone to really get it the way you intended. I think holding the vision and repeating it again and again is a pretty important CEO job.
  5. It never ceases to amaze me just how different, different people are. For example, some people just don’t get empathy; it’s literally like another language to them. They don’t pick up on the same signals and cues that someone with more interpersonal sensitivity will notice. It’s really important to talk about this and to recognise differences. To push this further, I would like to see if empathy can be taught. I’d certainly like try.
  6. We often measure people’s ‘performance’ but that is only one dimension. It is critical that we measure their ‘potential’ too; it’s the performance-potential combination that’ll determine how much we invest in, develop or support someone.
  7. As people go higher up in an organisational structure, I think they have to find ways of staying grounded and connected. High status people in organisations and society struggle to understand others and consider otheir people’s perspectives. It’s critical for leaders to constantly work at reducing power; to remind ourselves how much we need others. By consciously lowering our power we make ourselves more attuned and effective. I have found it really useful this week to speak to at least one colleague (from across the organisation) everyday and to a client every week (I will continue this practice). This has the added benefit of unearthing invaluable data and insights that help with good decision making. To be honest my wife, children and friends are doing a pretty good job of keeping my ego in check too.
  8. My conversations over the past 7 days have shown me just how much our people, even relatively young or new colleagues, really care about our culture. They don’t want Redington to become just another company as we grow. Redington offers us all a pretty unique opportunity to do challenging work that matters, be entrepreneurs, learn/grow and have social impact. Scaling our culture is our biggest opportunity and challenge.
  9. Building a great culture and environment isn’t a one off exercise, it requires constant learning and renewal. Our culture, our beliefs about people, must shape our strategy and decisions, not the other way around. We will maintain a constant paranoia about losing our culture. This feeling of teetering on the brink will help us to be vigilant about threats to our culture.
  10. My mistakes this week continue to be talking too much, jumping to conclusions too quickly, managing my own ego, not putting myself in other people’s shoes enough, not shining enough spotlight on brightspots, leaving things till the last minute and being late. These are important aspects of behaviour that I am working on and am determined to get better at. I have also not trained or exercised enough this week, that has to change quickly before bad habits set in.

All in all its been a great first week. I feel blessed to have such amazing and caring people around me at Redington, as well as Rob and Dawid’s ongoing counsel, feedback and support. Redington is a special place where people come to learn, to be challenged, to grow and to contribute – together we do the best work of our lives.

4 thoughts on “10 lessons from my first week as CEO”

  1. Very well written and interesting account of your first week at the helm, Mitesh. All the very best in your journey as CEO.

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