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GILD 2013: Perspectives on Leadership

October 14, 2013

We are pleased to honor this year’s second recipient of the Warren Bennis Award for Excellence in Leadership: Bernard Tyson, CEO of Kaiser Permanente. In his speech, Bernard shared his perspectives on leadership.

  • What do I do as a leader? I make sure that my team has what they need to do what they need to do. I create the vision and direction for the organization so it can continue to succeed in providing value to millions of people.
  • I have a strong view about leadership. I meet with my top leadership team once a month. I met with them yesterday and we dedicated three hours to talk about 13 or 14 individuals. I want to know who is going to take over in a key position if the current executive wins the lottery and doesn’t come back. They each weighed in on the bench strength beneath them. This is important because leadership is very serious.
  • I was taught early on that I had to be twice as good as anyone else because, in most rooms, I was the only African-American among a group of mostly white males. My perception was that this was a burden.  But then someone gave me a piece of advice. “Why is it a burden?” he said. “What’s wrong with setting a goal to get ahead?” It’s no longer a burden.
  • No one wants leaders who are average. Or who only think about the minimum that needs to be done. I love working in a competitive environment. It helps us to get more efficient – and to win.
  • I have a framework that I use. I consider myself and the people around me as professional business athletes. What I do every day is practice my profession. I don’t get stressed out in the boardroom taking on major challenges. I would be stressed out on a baseball diamond if the pitcher pitches the ball to me at 100 miles per hour and you expect me to hit it out of the park. I don’t practice that. But put me in a boardroom and give me a $100 million problem to solve and I’ll hit that ball out of the park.
  • Embrace being a leader. Enjoy it. I absolutely love it. I go home brutally tired, but energized to get up the next day and take the next big hill.
  • You need to think about yourself as your own corporation. I call it You, Inc. How are you building your own personal brand that people will understand? What do people think about you when you are not in the room? How do they respond to you as an individual? How do you show that you’re just an ordinary person who’s doing extraordinary things?
  • A leader without a follower is just a person taking a walk.

Dark haired woman watches from audience of conference event

Women in Leadership Institute

NOV. 13–16, 2023 | Orlando, Florida, or Virtual
A 4-day immersive learning experience designed to equip women leaders with actionable strategies to overcome the hurdles women often face in the workplace.

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