A history of the transformation of Verizon and the telecommunications industry told through the eyes of founding CEO Ivan Seidenberg and his leadership team, with highlights and commentary from bestselling global leadership guru Ram Charan.
The Verizon leadership team stands apart from most leadership teams today in their willingness repeatedly to put the enterprise before the individual. At first blush, this might look like a hopelessly old-fashioned notion in the age of the selfie. Yet, I would argue this is a trait that future leaders and boards of directors across industries would do well to understand and embrace.
Seidenberg not once but twice in the service of company shareholders and employees subordinated himself and put off taking sole leadership of the company to advance the enterprise’s odds of success. And many others in this story exhibited the same trait to help build this industry-leading enterprise.
They understood that the risk of not acting and thereby destroying value during a period of accelerating technological change and industry consolidation—a situation faced by leadership teams around the world today—was much greater than the risk of stepping in as No. 2 or co-CEO. In my 50 years of experience, it is a rare leadership team that will subordinate itself for the benefit of the industry, customers and the company. That principle, that the company comes first, the individual second, is what will define successful leadership teams of the future.
Multiple leadership principles, some new, some timeless, emerge from this narrative and will be of great use to the next generation of leaders across industries and around the world. By taking a look at a company that successfully executed exponential transformation, we can take the strategies of Verizon leaders and apply them to our own experiences.—Ram Charan