For the Chief of Saks its culture

For the Chief of Saks its culture - For the Chief of Saks,...

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For the Chief of Saks, It’s Culture That Drives Results Published: May 28, 2010 This interview with Stephen I. Sadove, chairman and chief executive of Saks Inc. , was conducted and condensed by Adam Bryant . Tina Fineberg for The New York Times Stephen I. Sadove, chairman and chief executive of Saks Inc., says a company’s leaders set the tone for its culture, which in turn can lead to positive results. Q. What were your biggest leadership lessons? A. I used opportunities to get involved and develop relationships with a diverse set of people, as opposed to the narrow group of people I was dealing with day-to-day, and that made a huge difference. It shaped my philosophy in terms of the importance of relationship-building. It really underlies my entire philosophy of how to run a business. Q. How did you learn that? A. In many instances, I was taken under the wing of people who gave me an opportunity, and also showed some attention and interest where they didn’t necessarily have to. Back at Harvard Business School, I remember a couple of professors there who paid some attention, and in some cases it really led to my love of marketing. I was also a reasonably good tennis player back in my college and graduate school days. And when I started work at a company called General Foods, people were always looking for tennis partners. If you were a good tennis player, you were heavily in demand. I found that things like that allowed me to meet people that I otherwise may never have met. I’ve been amazed over the years how relationships that come out of one thing go toward something else. So somebody I might have met through a charity then becomes somebody who knows somebody and it leads to a relationship. If you give positive vibes, if you show an interest, by and large a lot of people will react. Not everybody, but people tend to react. When people show an interest in reaching out, I tend to react to them.
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Q. Were you always comfortable in leadership roles? A. I was the kind of person growing up who was able to play in different circles of people. I was never a great athlete. I was a good tennis player, but I also was on the math team. I was able to move from one circle of friends to another. So you could be with the top-of-the-class people, but you could also be just as comfortable with the athletes who maybe didn’t care as much about the academics. I always felt the natural impulse of wanting people to work well together, to get whatever the end
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For the Chief of Saks its culture - For the Chief of Saks,...

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