I’ll never forget the day of my inauguration as the CEO of Prologis, the multi-national commercial real estate company where I worked for more than two decades and that I led for nearly five years.
There was no pomp and circumstance. No balloons. No champagne toasts. No celebrities. There was no swearing-in ceremony (although there might have been some swearing by employees and investors). And while there was no prayer service, I can assure you there was plenty of praying on my part!
An inauguration is nothing more than a new beginning – a fresh start. Sometimes they are marked with great fanfare, and sometimes they are not. Sometimes they represent a fresh start in a journey of what everyone expects will be continued success (like when my Pittsburgh Steelers change head coaches). Sometimes a rebuilding process is in order.
Before I took over at Prologis, the company’s track record had gone from boom to bust. Over the previous 15 years, the company had produced about a 19 percent compound annual return on investment for shareholders and had accumulated assets of close to $40 billion. Then the economy tanked and some bad management decisions boiled over. During the 10 months prior to me taking the job, the company’s stock had dropped from $72 per share to nearly $2 per share. The situation could not have been more dire.
I drove to work that first day as CEO with a heart burdened for the company and its people. Our future was uncertain and my path as a leader was undefined. I didn’t know what to do or how do to it. My future was filled with buckets full of “figure it out.” But here are three things I tried to remember as I stepped on the platform to speak to our employees for the first time as CEO. While there are plenty of other things to remember, I think these will serve anyone well when taking on a new role.
Who else would you be, you ask? Well, we all know the answer – you can easily try to be the person others want you to be. So start with a “to be” list instead of a “to do” list. Before you can get to the to-do’s in your new role, make sure you know who you are and who you really want “to be.” Lead based on your core values and based on your authentic personal style, not the expectations of others.tweet this
Embrace the “They” and the “Them”
No matter what your new role, there’s always a “they” and a “them” – the people around you who you depend on. Don’t start your new role by focusing on what you need, what you want, and how you expect things to work. Go in asking questions about what they want and need and how you can serve them.
Then put your influence to work helping to transform their lives.
You no doubt attained your new role or assignment based on merit, but that’s no reason to lack gratitude for the opportunity. In fact, there’s never a good reason to lack gratitude for the opportunities of life, even those that come with intense challenges and frustrations. Start out thankful and remain thankful. You probably deserve the opportunity, but you’re not entitled to it. A grateful heart is the best place to start.
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