Name: Christopher G. Fox
Title: Managing Partner
Christopher Fox is an accomplished executive and thought leader, with over 25 years of success in marketing and communications for the financial services, healthcare, professional services, and consumer products and technology industries. Leveraging extensive experience in communications, public relations, marketing, and branding, he is a valuable advisor for organizations seeking growth or working through a business transformation. His broad areas of expertise include thought leadership, executive coaching, digital strategy, marketing, patient engagement and communications, change management, and startups/entrepreneurship.
Throughout his executive career, Christopher has held leadership positions with Syncresis, Kindness Communication, and BNY Mellon, and supported thought leadership initiatives at companies totaling over $300 billion in market value.
Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!
We’ve gone through the interviews and asked the best of the best to come back and answer 7 MORE Questions on Leadership.
I hope Christopher's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!
1. As a leader, how do you build trust with employees, customers and other stakeholders?
I see this as a simple principle: Say what you stand for. Then go be and do that. What it means is that trust is the connective element between language and behavior. When you are able to articulate your values and demonstrate how they work in your actions, you continue to build trust. When your messaging is a platform for what you do and how you treat people, it builds connections. Those connections become the framework that supports your ability to inspire people to enroll in your mission and participate in creating and fulfilling it.
2. What do 'VISION' and 'MISSION' mean to you? And what does it actually look like to use them in real-world business?
Sometimes the difference between "vision" and "mission" seems a bit academic. It doesn't always matter as long as you're collaborating effectively to enact change. But if I had to distinguish them, "vision" refers to your most fundamental world-changing aspiration, and "mission" to the way you put your vision into practice. For example, I work with financial innovators. Their vision might be to enable people without access to formal banking services to make transactions and grow wealth. Their mission would be to develop an accessible platform, roll it out to unbanked people, and promote adoption. You could even say that vision is the soul of a business and mission is the body.
3. How can a leader empower the people they're leading?
The biggest challenge for a leader is learning how to lead while getting out of people's way. What I try to do is focus on the outcome, and let people take care of the process themselves. When I am clear about what and why, how is almost irrelevant. I might do something differently, but it may be more a matter of preference and disposition. I try to let managers and staff use their discretion, come to me for answers or support, and produce results that achieve the desired outcomes. If I have questions, I give them the opportunity to demonstrate why their output satisfies the need. Aside from issues of ethics, regulatory requirements, necessary standards, or other majorly material impacts to the business, the idea is to help them help me and trust in their professionalism and experience to complete things as they see fit.
4. Who are some of the coaches or mentors in your life who have had a positive influence on your leadership? Can you please tell a meaningful story about one of them?
One of my earliest mentors was the CEO of a company that was the first job in my current career (after a few try-and-leave experiences in other areas). She did an excellent job of finding and cultivating new talent based on skills and capacities rather than seniority. That mindset showed me that good ideas can matter if you make them matter. In addition, the entire business was organized around a small set of core beliefs that differentiated the company. It was (still is) both an outlier and a success. In my current role, 20 years later, I still put that into practice with both teams and clients. I learned the importance of working on the basis of core principles and using them to power an entire business model.
5. Leadership is often more about what you DON'T do. How do you maintain focus in your role?
I'll be honest. I try. I don't always succeed. When I am at my best, I do three things: delegate, use time-boxing for focused work sessions, and allow for time to do things that keep my head clear (for me, that's weightlifting, reading, and spending time with my human+feline family). I'd love to say it's an air-tight, non-negotiable system, but the reality is that circumstances can still put me on overload at times. My best answer to that just trying to do better at catching early warnings—my stress level, my emotions and reactivity, or my sense of performing at less than my best.
6. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Everyone plans differently. How do you plan for the week, month and years ahead in your role?
I use a method that I call the "runway." I've been doing it for so long that I've forgotten whether I learned it or developed it myself. In practice, it's a simple text file with headings: Today, This Week, This Month, This Quarter, This Year, Two Years, Five Years, This Decade. I put a maximum of three bullets in each heading. The longer-term items do not change often. I review the document bottom up to remind me of the big picture. That helps me stay mindful of the big goals as I update the month, week, and day. I ask myself whether the day moves things forward toward the outcome for the week, the week for the month, etc. I also consider how each interval affects its future. Then I adjust everything as needed.
7. What advice would you give to a young leader who is struggling to delegate effectively?
I'll explain this with a story. Like most leaders, I earned my first leadership position because of my performance in operational roles. The biggest mental shift was realizing that my value to the organization changed. My performance now depended on my team's delivery. It was no longer my job to produce the best work. Instead, I needed to help my team produce the best work. It was even more complicated because I had the technical proficiency, but was younger (in both years and company tenure) than almost my entire team. And I made all the common mistakes—not delegating at all, taking over work that didn't seem perfect to me, and insisting on having things my way. I learned over time what I could do to make the leadership role work. I learned people's strengths and how to trust them. I learned the difference between what I wanted and what was needed. And I learned how to use coaching and mentorship as a way to make delegating work go more smoothly. That approach was better for the team's morale and development. It also helped me navigate the tricky differences between betting my worth on the work I did with my own hands and brain versus the way we worked as a team to deliver value to the company and clients. The takeaway is this—if you're struggling to delegate effectively, it's likely because of misconceptions or insecurities about your leadership role. Identify those psychological aspects of your struggle, and then figure out the leadership tactics that will give you reassurance while also transforming your team.