Reprinted from the August 25-31 Atlanta Business Chronicle, with permission.
Atlanta Business Chronicle in July named our list of Atlanta’s Most Admired CEOs of 2017. They were honored on Aug. 24 at an awards event at The Foundry at Puritan Mill. Here’s a Q&A with one of the honorees, Brett Jacobsen, Head of School at Mount Vernon Presbyterian School:
Q: You’ve been named one of Atlanta’s Most Admired CEOs of 2017. Please share your thoughts about what other CEOs can do to win such great admiration from their stakeholders.
A: Humbled and honored to receive this recognition on behalf of the hardest working and high performing staff around, highly engaged students, and deeply committed parents. Through many highs and “fail up” moments, we have discovered the chemistry for a great organization requires (would apply to a Fortune 50 company, major nonprofit, or even a school):
1) A clear and compelling mission;
2) Cultural norms that invite people to step outside of their comfort zone;
3) People-centered design principles that drive learning, growing, and advancing;
4) And, timeless, significant habits of mind (ethical decision-maker, innovator, communicator, collaborator, solution seeker, creative thinker) that produce transformative results.
Q: What are the keys to CEOs building a high level of trust in their organizations?
A: Design thinking is a way of being at Mount Vernon whether partnering with students or developing a strategic plan at the trustee level. Our most significant characteristic is empathy. We believe relationships are foundational to learning and ultimately, empathy influences learning for any leader. Empathy fosters trust and respect. While a prerequisite for empathy is being approachable and accessible, empathy for a leader is talking less, multisensory (beyond listening), and connecting with someone in an authentic and meaningful way.
Q: Please tell us what leadership and being a leader means to you.