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7 Questions with Kevin Wachtel
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7 Questions with Kevin Wachtel
Name: Kevin Wachtel
Current title: Chief Strategy Officer
Current organisation: Indiana Wesleyan University - National & Global
Kevin Wachtel is Chief Strategy Officer for Indiana Wesleyan University-National & Global. His job focus is strategic planning that drives the university to meet its vision and mission in addition to providing internal coaching and consulting support, creating and fostering collaboration and being a change agent.
Prior to this role, he spent 35 years in leadership positions mainly in the Fortune 500. For the last 12 years before starting at IWU, he operated as SVP and General Manager for a large print mail and manufacturing operation for Fiserv, based in Indianapolis.
1. What have you found most challenging as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise?
Maintaining a balance between individual functions and people functions. I have always had a passion to continually meet with staff at all levels to hear what is effective and ineffective in the business, and to share with them what is going on in the business with great transparency. I made sure I scheduled time to maintain that balance.
2. How did you become a CEO or executive of a large enterprise? Can you please briefly tell the story?
By coming to work every day as a human being and treating people with respect and dignity. That creates successful outcomes, and while I cannot take credit for most of that, it ultimately gets noticed.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I get up at 545a each day and read the bible and pray. I then have a one-hour commute and I listen to the news or podcasts. The workday is filled with a balance of strategic planning meetings, coaching, consulting and generating change. In the evenings I study (I am working towards a Doctorate in business) and team (I am an adjunct business professor for the university).
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
Listen, listen, listen, and then listen some more. One of the biggest failures in business is to hear people but not listen to them. Our people know what they are doing, they often have great ideas but no one listens to those ideas and helps to make the great ideas come to fruition.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
Managed from the HEART by Hyler Bracey, Jack Rosenblum, Aubrey Sanford, and Roy Trueblood. HEART is an acronym that has permanently changed the way I lead. Hear and understand me. Even if you disagree, don't make me wrong. Acknowledge the greatness within me. Remember to look for my loving intentions. Tell the truth with compassion. If you follow these guides, you will make a difference.
6. How do you build leadership capacity in a large enterprise?
Culture and engagement. Most organizations have great percentages of employees who self-report as being disengaged. Disengaged people are a drag to capacity. Measure and work towards a constructive culture, with defined and positive shared values, norms and behaviors, and you will create capacity.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise so far?
I was on a business trip with one of my VP's. As we were waiting for our luggage, she mentioned that her daughter was receiving a significant scholarship the next day, which she was going to miss by being on that trip. I immediately put her on the next plane to go home to be at that award ceremony. My boss made those types of decisions, I knew it was the right thing for me to do.