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Employees, partners and colleagues often ask me about my view on leadership in these dynamic times. Admittedly, I am humbled and excited when they ask, as I consider myself a student of leadership. I have seen so much change over the last 30+ years in the technology business, so I definitely have an opinion.

Here are some top of mind thoughts I share during round tables and keynote presentations. By no means are these intended to be all encompassing. It’s just a start, but I trust they will help you as they have so many others.

Culture is key. When you look at great companies, you almost always find that a strong culture and meaningful values are foundational to the company. For example, how they make decisions and how the employees behave. This starts at the top with leadership, and typically a founder – or transformational leader – builds the culture and defines the values for the business. The critical key is that the values are communicated throughout the entire organization and everyone “walks the talk.” We’ve heard the expression “culture eats strategy for breakfast,” originated by Peter Drucker many years ago. I completely agree, and I have seen great cultures, bad cultures and weak cultures.

My previous company, TANDBERG, had a powerful “take no prisoners” culture – one based on innovation, customers, employees, fun, profit and market success. We lived it each and every day, and it started at the top with our chairman and founder. It helped propel our growth from a $300M company to a $1B market leader in just five years. When I joined Cisco through the acquisition of TANDBERG, I was skeptical about whether a company of 70,000+ employees could have an equally powerful culture. Well, I was wrong – it does – and it fuels our success every day. It is a culture based on giving back, employee success, customer success, changing the world, innovation, and doing the right thing. This started with our former Chairman, John Morgridge, continued with John Chambers and now Chuck Robbins. Our successful leaders and employees are in sync with these values and a culture that propels our success – even in these disruptive times. It’s truly special.

Executive Team at Food for Life

It’s all about the team. As leaders, we need to spend our time building, developing and nurturing the very best team we can. At end of the day, teams are a powerful reflection of their leader, and they are the ones who really drive the results. I remind my leaders that they are only as good as the team they put on the field.

My thinking around teams is so different today from when I started in business…


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Rick Snyder

Senior Vice President

Americas Partner Organization