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Doing Your Homework About How the Business Works
Talk with team members in virtually any organization, and you’ll learn that many haven’t taken the time to understand the inner workings of the business. How the organization makes money, serves its customers, organizes itself for success, and pays its bills is a mystery to the majority of people who depend on the enterprise for a living.
For Rosalind Brewer, the CEO of Walgreens, understanding how the business works from the inside out has been the key to her success.
When Brewer worked as the Chief Operating Officer at Starbucks, she staffed a local store’s drive-thru windows to understand the customer experience. When she worked at Walmart, she coordinated three trucks every night so she could learn distribution logistics and warehousing. Becoming a real student of the business takes curiosity and a willingness to ask stupid questions, both of which she mastered.
When Brewer arrived at consumer products company Kimberly-Clark right out of college, she immediately went on a learning tour to dive deep into how the business worked, why it made money, and how the culture and people defined its success. In her 22-year career there, she rose to become Global President because of how she learned.
Understanding the problem any business is trying to solve isn’t always as obvious as many people think. By going into learning mode and soaking up as much about the inner workings of every business she has been a part of, Brewer turned herself into a force of insight. Her ability to see things others don’t is a direct result of her courageous approach to learning about the business — not just about her slice of the enterprise.
No wonder Rosalind Brewer is one of two Black women currently serving as CEO at a Fortune 500 company. When you know how a business truly works, the ability to lead one takes on a very different perspective. Brewer’s success reaffirms that the most powerful leadership vision is insight.
Do you know how your business or enterprise really works?