Ron Williams: Learning to Lead
Ron Williams is a veteran business leader, turn-around expert, and advocate for value creation. Today he is chairman and CEO of RW2 Enterprises and also a member of the board of directors for American Express, The Boeing Company, and Johnson & Johnson.
Ron is the former chairman and CEO of health insurance giant Aetna. When he joined Aetna in 2001, its loss from continuing operations was $292 million, with earnings per share at a loss of $0.46. In 2011, the year he stepped down as Chairman, Aetna’s full-year operating earnings were $2 billion, with operating earnings per share of $5.17.
In this conversation, Ron shares wisdom from his book, Learning to Lead: The Journey to Leading Yourself, Leading Others, and Leading an Organization*. Ron discusses his own leadership journey and how he asked the right questions to inspire a successful turn-around at Aetna. He also shares the reason for avoiding “why” questions and the value that knowledge maps provided at Aetna.
Ron’s five kinds of questions that help challenge your organization’s reality:
- Highlight key problems
- Clarify the facts
- Probe an underlying story
- Suggest alternatives
- Drill down to basics
In addition, Ron suggested:
- Ask questions that start with “what” instead of “why.”
- Utilize knowledge maps to support business literacy for complex issues.
- Make yourself better every year by aiming for 15% improvement.
- Learning to Lead: The Journey to Leading Yourself, Leading Others, and Leading an Organization* by Ron Williams
Download my highlights from Learning to Lead in PDF format (free membership required).
- The Way to Grow Your Leadership Career, with Ron Wallace (episode 267)
- Executive Presence with Your Elevator Speech, with Tom Henschel (episode 316)
- How to Create an Unstoppable Culture, with Ginger Hardage (episode 350)
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