Ron Williams is best known for his leadership at Aetna, where he transformed a $292 million operating loss into $2 billion in annual earnings. He serves as chairman & CEO of RW2 Enterprises, and director for American Express, Boeing, and Johnson & Johnson. He holds an MS in Management from MIT Sloan School of Management.
In Learning to Lead: The Journey to Leading Yourself, Leading Others, and Leading an Organization, former chairman and CEO of Aetna, Ronald Williams shares his leadership principles for self-leadership, leading a team and leading an organization.
Quotable Quotes from Learning to Lead by Ron Williams.
- Two things are essential: a deep personal commitment to excellence in everything you do and a commitment to continual improvement.
- The best way to stay alive is to try to remain on everybody’s good side and pray you never get caught in the crossfire.
- Looking back, the single most important thing I learned from that first job is what I didn’t want to do with my life.
- Don’t let other people define who you are, what you can become, or what you can accomplish. Feel free to disregard the familiar assumptions that define the characteristics of a business leader.
- If you’re comfortable with every activity in your life, then it’s probably time to start doing some new things. The sense of discomfort is a good sign—it means you are trying a fresh route that offers potential rewards far greater than those you’ll enjoy on the path of least resistance.
- When making any career choice, think in terms of increasing the number of options you will have in the future. Ask yourself: If I take this job, will I have more choices at the end of the day? Avoid choices that you sense may be leading toward a dead end or simply repeating more of what you have already done.
Take it a little slower. If you focus too intently on the when in your career, you may end up sabotaging the if.
- Reframing is about creating a new mental landscape with a larger scope of freedom, a greater degree of flexibility, and a set alternative ways of approaching any problem—which can often lead to new and unexpected solutions.
- Expose yourself to diverse sources of new ideas. And in time, when you become an organizational leader, you can look for opportunities to connect the members of your team to such sources.
- The best job, especially early in your career, is often one that provides tough, unpredictable challenges and unexpected opportunities to learn valuable life lessons.
- There are two common ways to go wrong in your thinking: to rely solely on theory and to rely solely on experience. The secret is to keep the two in balance.
- Everyone you work with can be a mentor— because you can learn from them all, whether or not they consciously intend to teach you.