Do you remember when you were first assigned a leadership role? It's an exciting adventure, filled with anticipation, anxiousness, fear of the unknown and an overwhelming need to ensure you're ready to take on one of the greatest responsibilities of a career.
For me, it was a dozen years ago. I'd been in a lead role and responsible for delivering solutions to my organization, but in 2002 I officially received the title of manager. I immediately started planning how I would engage with my team, and I looked for that one spark of advice to turn the key and start the engine that would drive my career.
That spark was How to Become CEO: The Rules for Rising to the Top of Any Organization by Jeffrey J. Fox. I'd read many literary greats, but this single book set the foundation for many of the practices I would use as a leader and manager in my career.
The most compelling part of How to Become CEO is the ability to convey complex topics with such simplicity. This 162-page book discusses a different thought in every chapter; a collection of great suggestions, with each chapter no more than three pages. It's thought-provoking while invoking common-sense logic.
I was so inspired that I began sharing quotes with my colleagues, making full-page printouts of my favorites and placing them on my wall at work. I even purchased a copy for each person on my team. The key to success isn't making everyone live the same parallel dream and vision. Instead, it's making sure that those who work with you understand your core values and expectations.
After absorbing and applying the principles of this book to my life, I read many others by Fox. They taught me how to be a great boss, a rainmaker, a marketing superstar, a fierce competitor and, most recently, a transformative CEO. These books share the same writing style: Short, crisp chapters that challenge the reader to continuously improve.
Fox rose to the top of my bucket list of great writers and leaders to meet and interview. I got this opportunity recently and wanted to share my interview.
Mike Lyles: My favorite quote from How to Become CEO is: "Be a credit maker, not a credit taker." It changed my perception in the office. Then the book Brag! The Art of Tooting your Own Horn Without Blowing It describes how to ensure you get credit without begging for it or appearing to brag. What advice do you have for people who feel that, in their organization, if they don't continually try to take credit for their own work, they'll be left behind by others who do?
Sign up for Computerworld eNewsletters.