Excerpts from Departing Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent
In May 2017, Muhtar Kent, chairman and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company, will leave the company and hand over leadership to James Quincey. Fortune Insider published Kent’s statements on leadership that struck a core with us and how Albu Consulting helps leaders establish strategy management as an organizational competency. The following are some excerpts from Muhtar Kent, with our comments on each quote as it relates to our approach and philosophy on strategy.
“To me, leadership is all about creating value in whatever you do—and whatever role you are in—and leaving something better than you found it.”
Strategy Management must be owned by the CEO, full stop. No one else can lead as effectively in creating clarity about the strategy. Successful leader’s energy and enthusiasm for the strategy comes from a strong belief that long-term success is the ultimate goal, and a well-executed strategy will “leave something better than you found it.”
“The best leaders keep learning. They learn from their mistakes and their successes—not only when they’re young, but throughout their careers.”
Strategy management is a process of learning through testing, measuring and adapting your strategy. Leaders understand that strategy is not static, but rather dynamic and success comes from a willingness to change where necessary to achieve success.
“More recently, it (leadership) has been about setting a vision for the future, communicating priorities, and leveraging credibility and relationships to help our company and bottling system work together as one united team.”
CEO’s set the vision of the future, but it requires a collaborative approach for achievement of that vision. Leaders need the buy-in and commitment of their team. Being collaborative also helps build trust and strong relationships.
“Keeping our promises means never falling into the traps of complacency and arrogance while always being open to change and improvement.” “But getting better remains a never-ending journey.”
A leaders most important responsibility is to deliver on the promise, which requires a relentless pursuit of strategic objectives. There is no place for complacency or arrogance. Remember that when developing long-term strategy, you are placing “bets” on the future. Therefore, successful leaders understand they need to constantly challenge assumptions and decision in order to continuously improve.
“Ultimately, leaders are judged by what they leave behind.”
Muhtar Kent and leaders like him understand that strategy development and execution are linked and inseparable. What they leave behind is a strategy management process that works for everyone, and ensures that strategy is part of everyone’s day-to-day responsibility.