Ron led a discussion on organizational transformation in pursuit of innovation as part of the CNEXT Generate Program for Senior…
Over his ten year tenure as Aetna’s CEO, Ron Williams transformed the struggling health insurance firm into an industry leader. He turned a “deeply troubled organization” around, along with raising employee morale. Under Williams’s leadership, Aetna swung from a $292 million loss to a $2 billion profit.
In Learning to Lead, Williams tracks his inspiring journey of “overcoming obstacles and conquering barriers.” He grew up on the South Side of Chicago where his dad worked as a bus driver. His first job was washing cars. He became the first person in his family to attend college and, later, received an MBA from MIT’s Sloan School of Management.
“Ordinary people can achieve great things if they learn how to recognize and understand the barriers that limit them and then start overcoming them, deliberately, creatively, and persistently,” Williams writes.
According to Williams, public-speaking is a skill successful leaders must sharpen if they hope to accomplish what Napoleon said is a leader’s most important role: to “define reality and give hope.”
Williams advises CEOs and aspiring leaders to get feedback on their presentations and communication skills. Practice your presentation in front of trusted team members. Ask them if you’re using language that confuses the audience or if you’re delving into excessive detail, or leaving out information that would help to clarify your ideas.
Williams also believes in ‘saturation messaging.’ According to Williams, “When you have a message that everyone in your organization must understand, try to communicate it through every possible means—and keep repeating the message, even past the point when you are certain that everyone has been exposed to it.”