What two rules do wise CEOS follow when they’re in new roles?


Wise CEOs

  1.  They listen to and consider the advice of experienced staffers
  2.  They express and demonstrate positive regard for the institutions and people they’re leading

Five Reasons Wise CEOs Follow These 2 Rules

Ted, Sandra and Andy are all wise CEOs in new roles. Andy was recently promoted to CEO from within the organization. Sandra is an external hire, who was CEO at a different company in her former role. Andy is CEO of a company that just acquired a former competitor. These wise CEOs understand why they should listen to and consider the advice of experienced staffers, and never insult or demean the people and the institutions they’ve recently begun to lead.


Experience is not only the best teacher, it is often the only teacher. It teaches us many lessons we can’t learn from books, classrooms, and lectures. Wise CEOs know the wisdom others have gained through experience is one of the leader’s most valuable resources and the organization’s most valued assets. If others don’t share those lessons, the new CEO will step on landmines and reap disasters he would have otherwise avoided.


Institutional knowledge are facts, concepts and know-how held by the group. Institutional knowledge is codified in the hearts and minds of those who live it. The knowledge is transmitted through stories, actions and informal conversations, among and between generations of staffers. Without institutional knowledge, employees have to make it up as they go and each employee has to learn anew. Wise CEOs know that chaos, inefficiency and mistakes result from lack of institutional knowledge.


Culture, values and traditions maintain stability, especially in chaotic times. Rapid change and chaos are now more the norm than the exception. Culture, values and traditions, may be written somewhere, but they come alive through people. Wise CEOs know even if change is needed, they won’t achieve those changes without respecting the positive aspects of what was established before they arrived.


Human Networks - Work gets done through relationships. Inattention to, or destruction of, the web of relationships, slows and possibly paralyzes the organization. It takes years for a new web of relationships to be up and running effectively.


Beware of what you don’t know and don’t know to ask. Executives who disrespect experts’ knowledge and experience, or dismantle organizations prematurely, are destined to commit mistakes they could have avoided by listening to those who already know better. It’s more valuable to make new mistakes from which we, and others, can learn. Learning from others also preserves credibility, a precious resource not to be wasted unnecessarily. When wise CEOs value and respect others’ wisdom, they also create a collaborative trusting environment, where more wisdom will be shared.

Why don’t all CEOs follow what wise CEOs do?

One word.


John Negroponte, first director of United States National Intelligence Agency on listening to career employees

Anne Perschel
Anne Perschel
When she is not consulting; coaching; reading and writing about leadership; or enjoying her work in other ways; Anne can be found:

Listening to ocean waves receding over stones.
Enjoying the spontaneous expressions of young children who haven’t yet learned to hide their emotions.
Taking in the scent of freesias, lilacs or salt water.
Enjoying the great, or not so great, outdoors and all variations of nature’s gifts.
At the gym.

As Seen In:

Wise CEOs in New Roles Follow Two Important Rules