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Full show notes at www.LearningLeader.com

Twitter/IG: @RyanHawk12 https://twitter.com/RyanHawk12

Kevin Sharer has a distinguished career as a successful CEO and Board Member. He is currently a senior lecturer at Harvard University Business School and continues to mentor a select number of senior executives. Either as a Chairman, independent director, or mentor, Sharer has been a part of more than 20 successful CEO-successor transitions. Kevin led Amgen for 20 years, first as President and then as CEO for 12 years. Under Sharer’s leadership, the company achieved annual revenue of $16 billion with operations in 55 countries. 


  • “What Operational Excellence Looks Like”
    • Must know the details
    • Must have a listening system to know where problems brew
    • The leaders have a clear agreement with the team on what success is
    • A cadence of clear communication
    • The leader must embody the behavior… They are the model
    • Must have real empathy for people and care about them
  • The leader needs to assess when things go wrong so that they don’t make the same mistake twice…
  • Kevin spent 110 days underwater in a submarine…
  • When he left the Navy, he knew he wanted to be a manager. He joined a program at AT&T to become one…
    • He had an ambition to rise high in an organization
  • Kevin’s dad – A military aviator. His hero and role model. his dad cared a lot about leadership…
  • How did Kevin earn the CEO role at Amgen?
    • Spent 8 years as the President of the company. And “made it pretty obvious” to hire him for the CEO role
    • He consistently delivered results and formed a strong partnership with the CEO
  • How to sustain what’s special about a company as it grows?
    • The book Built to Last by Jim Collins was very helpful….
  • How to create and live your values?
    • They are not defined by what’s written down, it’s the behavior of the people. And that starts at the top…
    • Understand what your real values are. If you don’t believe in the values, you shouldn’t work there…
    • You “have to have social data to know that the values are real.” Ask others in the organization: “Are the values you experience consistent with the values stated by the company?”
  • How he got hired as the President at Amgen?
    • “I first decided that I wanted to be a General Manager and not a functional specialists.” Kevin pursued that through General Electric and got great experience…They hired him in part because of his broad range of experience.
    • It was a multi-step interview process. Kevin interviewed with 20 people at the company before getting the offer…
  • Listening ability: Kevin went from bad to great… “On the way up in my career, I had the view that I was so fast, so smart… It was working. I thought I was being helpful by telling others what I thought, but I was cutting off the full picture.”
  • Kevin had an eye opening moment when he asked the CEO of IBM to talk about leadership with his team…
    • “I learned to listen for comprehension. Listen to understand first.”
    • “You need to listen to the entire eco-system.”
  • Big idea: Pick 10 CEOs who didn’t make it: “Seven of them weren’t situationally aware.”
  • What are some “must-have” hiring qualities?
    • A record of good knowledge
    • Great communication skill
    • Comfort in their own skin
    • Curious – they must ask questions
    • Answer the question, “what are your goals?”
    • Answer the question, “what have you learned from failure?”
    • “If five people were asked about you, what would they say?”
    • Their accomplishments speak for themselves. They don’t have to overly sell themselves
    • They need to “clearly want the job.”
    • A good sense of humor
  • Hiring trap: “There is a bias for us to hire people like us. It’s overwhelming. We’re wired to think, “other is dangerous.” We must be aware of that.”

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