Adam Bryant conducts interviews of senior-level executives that appear in his “Corner Office” column each week in the SundayBusiness section of The New York Times. Here are a few insights provided during an interview of Cedric Bru , the C.E.O. of Taulia, a maker of invoicing software. To read the complete interview, check out other articles, and obtain subscription information, please click here.
Photo credit: Earl Wilson/The New York Times
* * *
Tell me about your early years.
I’m from a city called Narbonne, on the French Riviera. I grew up in the middle of vineyards. My family and all my relatives worked, or still work, in the wine business.
My parents played a very important role in my growth, but my grandfather is my business hero because of his ability to lead people with his charisma and authenticity, and not just in one setting.
He had his own vineyard. He was also a managing director for a larger vineyard. And he was mayor for 35 years, and he ran several nonprofits. When you look at him, you can tell that he’s a good man, and that he’s not trying to maximize any situation just to benefit himself.
How did he do that?
No. 1 was being passionate about things, and doing them because of the core values they represented, and because they aligned with his own core values.
The second was his willingness to bring people together from different backgrounds. When he was mayor, his team included people from the left and the right. He was able to get them to cooperate and get the most out of them.
What were some early leadership lessons?
In my very first management role, I really wanted to try to be perfect and lead by example. And it worked to some extent, but it also carried a lot of limitations, because I was not allowing myself to say that I didn’t understand something. The bigger problem was that the people who worked for me responded by doing the same thing.
What about more recent lessons?
I had to rebuild the entire management team in my current role for various reasons. And as I did that, I started to think about what I learned playing rugby. You need to trust the people on your team.
People need to know that if they are ever close to a cliff — about to make a risky decision or hire the wrong person — they can turn around, ask their colleagues for help. And if I’m close to the cliff, they can grab me and I will welcome it.
* * *
Adam Bryant, deputy national editor of The New York Times, oversees coverage of education issues, military affairs, law, and works with reporters in many of the Times’ domestic bureaus. He also conducts interviews with CEOs and other leaders for Corner Office, a weekly feature in the SundayBusiness section and on nytimes.com that he started in March 2009. In his book, The Corner Office: Indispensable and Unexpected Lessons from CEOs on How to Lead and Succeed, (Times Books), he analyzes the broader lessons that emerge from his interviews of hundreds of business leaders. To read an excerpt, please click here. To contact him, please click here.