Corner Office - Conversations About Leadership and Management

Corner Office - Conversations About Leadership and Management

The New York Times - February 10, 2013

The following excerpt was featured in The New York Times Sunday edition alongside other executives' advice about leadership and management. Click here to read the full article.

NYT: When you started the company with your partner, did you have discussions about the culture you wanted to create?

Liz Elting: Meritocracy was always a big concept to us - making sure that the best people were promoted and rewarded, and that is very much how we run our company now.  Virtually all of the senior people at our company were promoted from within.  Most of them started at entry-level positions.  And so it's very much a meritocracy.  We also believe in holding people accountable.  We're also big believers in being completely open and transparent.

NYT: Make that real for me.  How do you do that?

Liz Elting: We share with our people what's going on in the company.  We're open with our financials because it's better if they understand what's going on.  We make sure they're clear on the vision and that they understand it.  We also let them know our accomplishments and our challenges as well as our shared goals. Here's another example of being open: If we have a manager who says one thing, and another employee who says something else, and they come to us independently, we'll put them together in a room with one of us and have a three-way conversation.  There's no reason to have side conversations.  We simply bring everyone together, we talk about the issue, and we resolve it. And when we have other meetings, we really encourage people to talk and let us know what's on their minds so we can address it. We don't want meetings to be a couple of people talking and everyone else listening.  I do think people need to contribute. Some people are more executers, some people are more innovators, and some people are a combination but we need ideas. People often have them, and they don't share them, so we need to encourage them.

NYT: Is it awkward resolving those side conversations you mentioned earlier?

Liz Elting: You know, it's not really, because I think people just know it's not right. We have a very open culture, so when two people are disagreeing, bringing them together in a room to resolve it doesn't seem like an awkward situation to me.  It just makes the most sense.

The above answers originally appeared in A Work Ethic Shaped at an Early Age.