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7 Questions with Leslie Deamer
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7 Questions with Leslie Deamer
Name: Leslie Deamer
Current title: Principal Consultant & Founder
Current organisation: DEAMER & CO
Leslie is an experienced operator who excels in energizing teams, building services and products, and evolving business capabilities across industries, having held a range of technology, consulting, product, and digital marketing roles. She has 15+ years senior leadership experience in e-business consultancies, marketing agencies, technology startups, and cross-industry Fortune 500 companies. Her work, regardless of job title, has always involved solving complex problems, delivering value to clients, partners and teams, building products and services, and optimizing Fortune 100 businesses. The qualities that have earned her a reputation as an executive team “Swiss Army knife” are her high emotional intelligence, ability to influence through relationships, and an unrivaled power trio of resourcefulness, tenacity, and organizational skills that never fail to deliver on her objectives.
1. What have you found most challenging as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise?
The art of flexibility. It's being able to adjust on a dime and communicate in different ways, specific to each person and situation. It's not about being "everything to everyone." It's about having enough self-awareness in the moment to know what is going to yield the best response from each person--and then having the patience to execute with that behavior in mind. It's very difficult to do at the moment. You have to step back from your impulsive, emotional reactions, be calm when others are not, and be the positive force. It's lifelong practice; you are never "done".
2. How did you become a CEO or executive of a large enterprise? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I started out on Wall Street on the business side supporting their new automated client services and products. I really enjoyed it and soon got co-oped by the Technology side to represent the business needs. That was the beginning of my career of being at the intersection of business and technology and developing new things.It was a good place to cut my teeth, with tough customers, a lot at stake and high expectations for quality. In the advent of Web 1.0, a colleague took me to my first digital start-up, which did very well and changed my life. It provided my skill sets that few had and were desirable. From there I went to Madison Avenue and then into MarTech, both working for and service Fortune 100 companies.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
Ritual is my friend here but it's not foolproof and I look for opportunities to tweak. And it has changed to accommodate Covid practices and since shifting to consulting.
I try to make my morning as peaceful as possible before the intensity of the day. Coffee first. Sometimes I listen to natural sounds. Stretch. Get ready for work. Look at my list from the night before on what to get done and appointments. Check email. I try to schedule my "brain work" in the morning to the extent possible and more people interactions in the afternoon when my energy flags because that energizes me. I try to schedule email time as opposed to letting it drive my work. And I will categorize it to "answer right away, answer more thoughtfully and can wait". Weather permitting, I have people meetings while walking. At the end of the day I think about what went well, what could have gone better and make some notes on that. Also, I make my lists for the next day, make meetings, update any statuses. Read and send any emails. Work out. Have dinner. I am a bit of a night owl. I almost check my email to see if there is anything that requires my attention. And if there is something that needs to be written or reviewed in the peace of night that has to go out the next day, I admit to doing this at night as well.
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
The important difference between equity and equality as it relates to BIPOC and any marginalized group. You cannot have the latter until the former is addressed.
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?
I've been a fan of Simon Sinek for over 12 years. If I had to pick one book, it would be "Leaders Eat Last". It really fits my philosophy of "being of service" It is about taking care of those in our charge, providing a psychologically safe environment, inspiring others by providing a purpose or cause, and trusting others first. It's like being a good and healthy parent in the professional sense and context.
6. How do you build leadership capacity in a large enterprise?
Start in the beginning. Invest the time in a quality hiring process, defining and identifying leadership attributes you are looking for in addition to hard skills. Develop a mentorship program. Create real opportunities for growth and development, both formal and informal. Embrace actionable feedback year-round as a practice.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise so far?
The best company I have experienced had the smartest, kindest and most intellectually generous people, who had each other's back, where we were always learning, had an open and safe culture , where we tried to leave things better than we found them. It was less about us, more about the mission. Make that.