CEO Denise Morrison WSJ interview

Denise Morrison also participated in the WCD Global Institute in NYC last week.  She focused on the role and importance of building relationships and advice from a mentor.  When I was with Aetna Realty Investors, the Department Head, Bill Russell, signed me up for an all-guy annual golf tournament to be held in Sept. It was April. I didn’t play golf. He said, “You have the summer. We have a membership at TPC. You’ll learn.” I par’d the first hole in the tournament. It was invaluable in my business career, including when I was on the board of the CT Business and Industry Association and won the Long Ball Contest. 🙂  4 hours on the golf course teaches you a lot about a person.  I played in a match sponsored by a construction company and watched their future ($50 million) client cheat his way through the entire day.  Invaluable.   Having mentors who nudge/advise you in the right direction is critical. The Chair of the PE company which owned Houlihan’s always kept the focus on building the business as we were facing very difficult workout decisions. I’ve watched mentors change the playing field, rather than argue head to head. Changing the conversation and/or the rules, rather than engaging in a direct conflict is a tremendously valuable skill.  In another situation, a mentor asked what my conversation was about that was consistently leading nowhere.  Through that discussion, I realized the person I was working with only wanted to hear everything was going well, and not about issues I was delivering.   Lastly, when I was CEO of Houlihan’s, the highly popular and very productive former (several times back) CEO of Houlihan’s, Fred Hipp, told me, “The employees have decided to follow you”. It was the first time I understood “leadership”. CEO is only a title. It doesn’t mean anyone will follow you. Leadership is team building and having people believe in you enough to follow you. That’s trust that’s earned.

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About hopsuz

Experienced leader, both as CEO and as board Chair. Founder of the 25 year old The Hopgood Group, LLC. Co-author of the award winning "Board Leadership for the Company in Crisis". Consultant to companies large and small. Expertise in board evaluations and leadership challenges.
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