My Parting Advice

Carlos M. Sepulveda Jr.

June 11, 2013

I recently had the experience of completing a nine-year stint as President and CEO of a $1.5 Billion annual revenue company. The leadership team was comprised of 12 very talented individuals that served with me as officers.

Knowing that any change in a team can affect that team’s effectiveness and success, I shared some parting advice with them that I have found to be true about any group working together toward a common goal. So here it is:

Advice from a Departing CEO to His Team

1. Take Care of Yourself

While this might be a surprising point of beginning focus for servant-leaders, it is a necessary first step for leaders to provide sustainable value. Wearing out by failing to take care of yourself will not be of value to anyone in the long term. And, when you take care of yourself, it does not cost you time but actually creates efficiency by contributing to better and more effective outputs from the time you do invest.

My favorite way to take care of myself is to do three things each day:

a. Do something physical – This is exercise or some type of focused exertion. Our bodies and minds simply perform far better when we consistently work ourselves physically.
b. Do something mental – This is generally not a challenge for servant-leaders to schedule into their daily routine. Virtually every leader is presented with daily opportunities to think through matters of significance.
c. Do something spiritual – This will mean different things to different people. For me, it means spending some time in the Bible each day seeking to be sharpened, restored, comforted, challenged, enlightened, encouraged, instructed, re-calibrated, etc.

2. Take Care of Each Other

Each person brings talent and makes personal or unique contributions to the achievement of the overall team goals. These are easily embraced and recognized as beneficial to the team. On the other hand, because of the human condition we all find ourselves in, each person also brings some “overhead” to the team. In other words, no one is perfect so each of us also brings aspects revealing our human limitations and imperfections. Examples of “overhead” could include suboptimal relational skills, lack of tact, peculiar or irritating personality traits, annoying habits, abrasive communication styles, lack of consistency, etc. “Overhead” always exists between members of any team.

A way to take care of each other is to encourage each other and to coach each other. Encourage each team member to contribute the individual value that the team needs and is relying upon. Coach each team member by providing feedback on the impacts their “overhead” makes on others and how they might improve their effectiveness through mentoring, training, and feedback to reduce their overhead and resulting drag it puts on a team.

3. Take Care of the Business

This includes taking care of today and preparing for what the future will bring. Every business needs focused attention on both aspects. Consistent quality does not happen today without focus and effort. In addition, the future will always bring changes and challenges that will require new thinking and approaches for generating value. Getting it optimized today is no guarantee for having the business continue to be valuable later.

Well-functioning teams are powerful for many reasons. The synergistic compounding value created when a team coordinates, complements, and coaches its members well is one such reason. Most people would like to be on such a team. Perhaps the above advice can contribute to having a powerful team.