Paul Witkay

Let’s Get Rolling!

May 19, 2009

Case categories include: Leadership   Strategy & Planning   

It’s time to start thinking long-term - and to lead

By Paul Witkay, Founder 

Since I meet with CEOs running companies in every industry sector, I’m often asked about the “current mood of CEOs” – at least in these unpredictable times. It is my view that our Alliance CEOs have emerged from a state of “what the hell is going on?” to taking clear action steps to deal with current economic conditions. We’ve passed through the psychological phases of denial and anger and moved to acceptance of the new reality. CEOs are now focused on getting their organizations aligned and moving in the right direction.

For companies that were hit hardest by the economic storms, CEOs are having to salvage what’s left of any valued assets and are moving on to identify their next opportunities. CEOs running companies with strong fundamentals are buying distressed assets and hiring talented people who aren’t normally available. They’re taking advantage of conditions to clarify their vision and focus their organizations’ attention on their most critical objectives.

By and large, I have the privilege to work with optimists. Leaders cannot expect to motivate the troops by whining about external conditions that they have no ability to control. They know the job of leader requires them to walk into their offices each day with a spring in their step and an air of confidence – even when they feel like the sky is falling. However, the Alliance creates environments where CEOs can talk honestly and candidly behind closed doors about what is really going on, what they’re doing about it, and how they’re feeling about it.

There’s no question that these are the most challenging and frightening economic conditions that CEOs have had to face in our lifetimes. Personally, I am extremely thankful to all of our Alliance members who come together to help each other gain deeper understanding of current situations and creative strategies to deal with each of our unique challenges, opportunities and threats. I have been told that, during these difficult times, our members value the genuine support that is offered by their fellow Alliance CEOs in addition to their strategic recommendations. I’m inspired by the resilience, persistence and leadership that our Alliance CEOs have demonstrated during the past year.

Although there will be many more bumps in the road, I believe that the worst is over and it’s time for each of us to begin thinking long-term and leading our organizations toward compelling visions for the future. The Bay Area is still the most innovative geographic region on the planet and innovation is the best generator of new jobs. I believe that together, we can be the catalysts to turning this economy around. Let’s get rolling!

Paul Witkay is the founder and CEO of the Alliance of Chief Executives. He may be contacted at