Employees at Cinergy found out that Rogers was an apt pupil, eager to learn from the grades that they had given him. And Rogers discovered that while employees generally awarded high marks to him, they also believed that he had room for improvement in certain managerial disciplines. Along with asking listening-session participants to grade him, Rogers put an open-ended question to them: “What’s the one thing I need to do better as CEO?” Later, in a memo, he analyzed their written answers and grouped those answers into a few broad categories — Strategy, Vetting of Major Decisions, and so on. Tellingly, the category into which the largest number of responses fell was one that Rogers labeled Internal Communications. Some 20 percent of respondents, he noted in the memo, voiced a wish that he and other senior executives would “visit the field more and . . . share more ‘bad news’ when appropriate.” Thus, even as he sought to get close to employees by way of organizational conversation, Rogers learned that many of them were urging him to get closer still. Another lesson that he took from this exercise concerned the need to follow up on what employees had told him. “My challenge is how to use this data,” he says. “Has it changed me as a person? What will I behaviorally do as a consequence of knowing this? If I do nothing, I know I have lost an opportunity to be a better CEO.”
— Boris Groysberg and Michael Slind
Reprinted by permission of Harvard Business Review Press. Copyright 2012. All rights reserved.