1. Learn to Listen. When I became CEO of Ford, I went to each leader and Board director of our company, and asked the same four questions: What do you hope I do? What do you hope I don’t do?  What should we do more of? What should we stop doing?
    
I got on the road and met with all stakeholders – dealers, customers, suppliers, employees, key government officials, JV leaders, and community leaders. It is vital to meet people where they work and immerse yourself in their daily tasks. 

2. Ask the tough questions. We asked the hard questions early: where do we want to play? How will we win? What capabilities do we need? 

I knew we could not take our eye off the ball of what we do so well: designing, manufacturing, marketing, financing and servicing terrific vehicles which our customers love. But because we reflected on priorities, we understood that it is not just about selling vehicles but also providing new products and transportation services enabled by technology. As CEO, you need to create your priorities sooner rather than later. 

3. Be Decisive. After asking the tough questions and evaluating, I began early to take the tough decisions needed to win, or risk being left behind.

We took pivotal actions, adding exciting new capabilities in electric vehicles, mobility 9 Solutions, and autonomous vehicles. In just a short time, we have made many investments large and small, positioning us at the forefront of mobility. We recruited new talent, and we made sure our new investments were deeply integrated with our core business.

4. Communicate. Organizations require clarity and transparency from their leaders in order to achieve maximum success. Over-communicate with the organization early and consistently. 

I used to webcast the entire Ford employee organization every two weeks, updating them on company progress and celebrating our skill teams’ innovative successes. We, as one Ford team, are aware of our plan and goals and committed to doing our part as we transition into both an auto and a mobility company. 

I also established personal work habits to help ensure both personal and company success. Here are six of them I’d like to share: 

1. At the beginning of each year, define what success looks like for the year ahead for both you and the company. At the end of the year, grade yourself. Learn from it and then do it again. Being a CEO is a job of continuous improvement.

2. Control your calendar. Every Sunday night, I look at the calendar for my week ahead and take things off that are not consistent with my priorities. Everyone will want a piece of you; learn to say no.

3. Give yourself time to reflect. It’s okay to have open hours on your calendar. Don’t feel that you have to fill them in. This is a time for reading the writing or meditating. Consider it your “think time.”

4. Map out key constituencies that matter to you early on and work to establish those relationships quickly.

5. Manage your own email. Through email, I have greater line of sight of what is on the minds of everyone – employees, customers, colleagues − who writes to me, and follow-up, often personally. This keeps me connected, which is critical.

6. Leave time to de-stress and pursue personal passions. For me it’s working out; whatever it is you like to do, make sure there is time for it.

Source: Feigen Advisors New CEO report 2016

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