“You have to be able to tell people ‘great job’ on things that didn’t work.”
— J. Kermit Campbell, former CEO of Herman Miller
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Campbell has it right. A CEO is not an expert except in one area: getting the right people. Actually, let’s add another area: values. You must be a leader who gets the best people and demonstrates the highest values.
Even if you are a manager, you should still think this way. Empower your people to learn and maintain a domain of expertise. Hopefully you can hire them with it. If you can’t, make sure they have the rapid capability to do so. Let’s learn from Campbell’s advice to us:
“I don’t believe that my job is to lead design at Herman Miller. My job is to make sure we have great design leaders, continue to listen and try to learn from them…My job is not to be a creative guy, my job is to create a culture that allows and promotes creativity…
You’re going to have to take risks. It’s not all going to work.
You have to be able to tell people ‘great job’ on things that didn’t work.”
J. Kermit Campbell is a former CEO of Herman Miller, and the current Lead Independent Director of SPX Corporation. He is an investor or board member for a number of companies and charitable organizations. Herman Miller is a leading furniture company, founded by D. J. DePree, with a more than 100-year history. They focus on innovation, and designing products to create a better world.