Seven Tips for Leading the Pack

San Diego’s Most Admired CEOs* (as identified by the San Diego Business Journal) didn’t get to where they are today without gaining great perspective, making mistakes and learning from those who came before them. Following are tips they shared about how to become strong leaders who not only lead in the company, but also in the industry and community.

Several wolves standing together with their heads sticking into multiple directions in winter woods

  1. Be Humble: Gary Rayner, former CEO of LifeProof: “Be humble, trust your instincts and at the same time, recognize you have a lot to learn. It sounds contradictory, but the two go together. Educate yourself. Cut out poisonous influences early. Recognize you have to adapt to the needs of the company and not the other way around.”
  2. Focus on Excellence: Greg Rogers of Pacific Building Group: “Listen to your people, seek mentors from peers, focus on excellence.”
  3. Build a Circle Around You: Tim Caulfield, former CEO of American Internet Services: “Build that circle so you can get input from others, get ideas and unbiased input. Set aggressive but achievable goals. Don’t set yourself up for failure either. Hire people who are smarter and more diverse than you are. I want to be the dumbest one in the room. Figure out how to build fun into the equation.”                                                             Gary Cady of Torrey Pines Bank: “Surround yourself with good people, gather multiple leadership styles from people you respect and emulate it as long as it fits your style, play and work really hard. I’ve been lucky in my life. Vince Lombardi said the harder you work, the luckier you get…there is no secret way to the top. When our friends get together, we ground each other. It’s good to keep friends who knew you before you thought you were a big powerful guy.”
  4. Care about Employees: Jim Cable of Peregrine Semiconductor Corporation: “Build a great team that you can trust, care about your employees, don’t micromanage.”
  5. Follow your Values: Greg Koch of Stone Brewing Company: “Follow what you believe and do it the way YOU think it should be done. Run your company in a way that’s aligned with your values. Never sell out. Take time off, maybe a year every 6-7 years. Why defer until retirement, until 65? Mix it in. “
  6. Do What you Love: Joanne Pastula of Junior Achievement: “Find the thing you love to do. Find other people who are highly competent and want to do the same thing. Lay out the track and you have no idea what you could accomplish. Love it and find people who love it. My job is to clear the runway so my people can take off (after giving the flight plan) and soar and they are also empowered to think on their own.”
  7.  Challenge Yourself: Bob Kelly of the San Diego Foundation: “Continue to take on new projects, grow in your job and do different things. When you apply for a job, you need a broad range of experience. Don’t be afraid to take on projects that don’t fit into your area.”