Paul O’Neill on Leadership

Last week, our cohort spent an hour listening to Paul O’Neill, 72nd Secretary of the U.S. Treasury and former chairman and chief executive officer of Alcoa. His speech was engaging, with a variety of illustrative personal stories.  When I left the symposium, I wanted to work for a company with a CEO like Paul.  Then I started thinking, why don’t I just do everything in my power to be a leader like Paul O’Neill?

Paul challenged us, future business leaders, to create a work culture where every person can answer “yes” to the following statements:

1. “I’m treated with dignity and respect everyday by everyone I encounter” without regard to gender, race, rank, degrees, etc.

2. “I’m given the things I need” (e.g., resources, education, training, supervision, etc.) “to make a contribution that gives meaning to my life.”

3. ” I’m recognized for what I do by someone whose opinion I care about.”

Without having heard Paul’s speech, I’m sure that you are thinking, “I want all three of those in my work life!” So what are you going to do about it? Are you going to become the manager to make the change in an organization?

I hope that in my future I am able to follow Paul’s lead and create a safe, healthy work environment.  I wanted to leave you with a video of Paul so that you can be ignited by his words too.


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