In this NYT interview, CEO of Liberty Media, Gregory B, Maffei explains that perhaps his greatest virtue as a leader is intellectual curiosity. This leads him on a quest to evoke difficult and challenging questions – especially when he addressing the company as a whole in an unscripted authentic situation.
This unusual behavior is the first sign of intent that he wants his corporate culture to apply their investigations to whatever they might be working on.
…Q. What’s been the constant in your career path? Why do you think you got to where you are today?
A. If I have a strength, I think it’s probably an intellectual curiosity. I can find interest in a lot of different things and try to put that to work in a positive way, connecting the dots and considering how the pieces fit together.
Q. Talk about the culture you’re trying to foster at your company.
A. There has been a general change in a lot of organizations. There’s more transparency, more openness, and at least some of the trappings of the imperial boss have been reduced. And I think that’s good. I try very hard to do the things that I appreciate, like being direct about what the organization is doing. We make sure we have quarterly meetings that are very open and encourage questioning, so people feel like they are part of the organization.
Q. Can you elaborate?
A. I’ve always felt most comfortable in a culture where people do feel, regardless of the size of the organization, that there is an ability to have dialogue, and that there is an ability to feel like you can ask the C.E.O. any question. Too much formality or reverence can get in the way of a good exchange of ideas. So how do you make that happen? You’ve got to somewhat walk the walk and talk the talk. In our meeting with all employees, I try to be candid about what we did right and what we did wrong in the quarter, what’s the longer term, how we’re doing and what some goals are. And you try to get them to ask tough questions.
So I usually make sure there’s at least one or two that I know somebody will ask, that are going to be viewed as tough, because they want to make sure they get covered. Because you want to set a tone of, “Hey, people get to ask those questions.”