I recently had a great experience attending Cisco’s third annual Leader Day which happened to fall on a pretty historic day for us — the day Cisco was named the #1 World’s Best Workplace by Great Places to Work. We took a moment to celebrate this exciting recognition, but then dove in to the full day’s session.

Cisco’s Leader Day is a global event for all Cisco leaders, focusing on how we can lead our teams to make a greater impact on our people, customers, company, and communities through conscious leadership. Almost 9,000 leaders set aside a full day to focus on what leadership at Cisco is all about, to work on understanding different perspectives, and to reflect on how we can be better leaders for our teams.


Cisco’s approach to Conscious Leadership
We are only as strong as the connections between us.
We are only as strong as the values we hold.
We are only as strong as those we serve.

–Cisco Executive Leadership Team

While I’ve been at Cisco for some time, I continue to be amazed at the company’s commitment to developing a culture of leadership that Leader Day represents. I had the honor of being an executive host at the event and had the opportunity to engage directly with attendees throughout the day. I wanted to share some of my takeaways from the discussions and presentations.

A linear career pathway no longer exists

Today’s career paths are less predictable than they used to be a generation ago when a college graduate could expect to pursue a linear career trajectory. Career journeys are now more likely to zig-zag as workers seize opportunities and adjust to industry disruptions. In my own experience here at Cisco, change has been a constant, as I’ve moved through many roles and business units like video, IoT, services, and cloud.

At Cisco, we work to provide a place where our employees will have many careers within one company. Our focus is on enabling our employees to build a career journey that keeps them challenged and satisfied at work—using their strengths every day. And Cisco leaders are here to support the growth and development of our people by helping our employees unlock constant learning and thoughtfulness around how they can approach their Cisco career opportunities.

The best ideas can come from anywhere

As an engineering leader I’m always looking for good ideas and insights, and I know they can come from anywhere. At Cisco we bring a unique approach to the concept of conscious leadership by creating an environment where everyone is welcome. A big part of our culture is to empower every person to be the difference, at work, and in our communities.

We enable the bridge to possible

Cisco focuses a lot on enabling our customers to transform and that often means helping them get from where they are to where they want to be. This concept of creating a bridge to what is possible extends into all apsects of what we do and is central to how we approach conscious leadership. For our people, it means providing a supportive culture where they can grow and thrive. It means working to create better experiences for our customers, shareholders and partners. For our Cisco community it means forming the foundations for a bridge to an even better world.

Be you, be human

I’m a firm believer in creating an environment where people can bring their own personality and style to their role: it’s ok to be who you truly are. But it’s also important to create a safe environment where leaders can courageously take bold steps to do the right thing. For example, if we don’t know the answer to an important question, we know it’s ok to be honest and admit it. If we can’t share information yet, we just say so. If a tough decision needs to be made, we make it and we are transparent about why. At Cisco we try to lead with honesty and authenticity because we want that same level of truth back from everyone we work with on our teams.

Colorful hair? Don’t care. Tattoos? Show off your ink.
Like polka dots? That’s cool.

Pop culture geek? Many of us are.
Be you, with us!

–posted on every Cisco job description

As a long-time Cisco employee, I wasn’t surprised to hear the news today about Cisco being named the #1 World’s Best Workplace, but I’m glad to know that now, the rest of the world knows how special Cisco is, too!



Kip Compton

No longer with Cisco