The McCausland file Featured

7:00pm EDT February 28, 2007

Born: Philadelphia

Education: Bachelor’s degree in history, University of South Carolina; juris doctor, Boston University School of Law

What is the best business lesson you’ve learned?

If you want to know what is going on in business, you have to ask the people who are doing the work on the front lines. I think a lot of businesspeople just aren’t that collaborative and inclusive.

They think they live in ivory towers, but if you want to be successful in business, you have to make the front-line people a very important part of everything you do.

What traits or skills really benefit a business leader?

The ones that normally come to mind would be confidence, intelligence and the ability to communicate, but I would say the ones that probably don’t come immediately to mind but are equally or more important are vision, empathy, a willingness to lead from the front lines, humility, realizing you don’t know all the answers.

Understanding the success of the company is not because you’re a genius but because there are a lot of people working together to make it happen.

I would say, finally, the most important trait or skill of a successful business leader is probably the ability to deal with ambiguity.

What are some universal truths you’ve learned about leading a business?

One, if you want to know what is going on, ask the people who are actually doing the work. Two, if you think you can’t live without someone, you probably can’t.

Three, nothing is ever as good as it sounds. Four, very few skeptics are successful.

How do you define success in business?

It’s different for different people. Some people want to get a big contract or a parachute. For me, success is building something that is viable and sustainable for the long-term. That’s where I get my satisfaction.

That includes not just a collection of assets, it’s building a family of people, too. That’s what a company is.

It’s a family, and to me, putting it together and building it is very satisfying, and that’s what gets me up every day.