According to one CEO, it’s the skills you’re NOT hired for that can take you to the top.
In an interview with OneWire’s Skiddy Von Stade, Gordon DuGan explained his journey from an analyst after graduation at corporate financing firm W.P. Carey, to eventually becoming the company’s CEO.
“Obviously when you get a job straight out of college you don’t think about, ‘Will I become CEO of this company,'” DuGan said. “It wasn’t really on my mind. There are a lot of forces that ended up playing out.”
DuGan said his career was partly attributable to his strong work ethic and passion for his job. But while he had the quantitative skills to excel at his junior position, it was other qualities that helped him when he wanted to advance.
“I really liked the process of leading, I liked the process of being a spokesperson for the company and selling the vision of what we were trying to do,” he said. “You’re not hired for those skills. You’re hired to just do the work. But those skills are the skills that become more important as you transition through a company.”
Lacking these leadership skills could become a barrier for employees trying to move up in the company, he said.
“They’re very good at one thing, but that one thing that got them in the door isn’t the thing that gets them into higher and higher roles,” DuGan said.
DuGan became co-CEO of W.P. Carey in 2002 and sole CEO in 2005. Under DuGan, the company grew its assets from $US2.5 billion to $US10 billion. In 2012, DuGan left the company to become the CEO of Gramercy Property Trust.
Oh and as for the axe, that reminds him of another trait he didn’t get hired for.
“It’s an axe with the word ‘courage’ on it and it sort of reminds me of a couple of things: To grow a small company you’re in the chopping wood business. Every day you gotta go in and move the ball down the field.”
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