Bringing together leaders, lawmakers and lawbreakers. Host Luke Fox explores how innovations in business and technology are redefining our trust in security measures.

 

Trust is not something anyone gives freely, no matter the terms of the relationship. It’s even harder to earn in professional settings. However, it’s a foundation for leadership and one that today’s guest Jef Graham wholly believes in. Graham has spent his career in leadership positions with large companies, currently serving on the board of NETGEAR, while also being a professional CEO for several startups in Silicon Valley.

What exactly, is a professional CEO? Graham explained, “Such a role is about scaling the company. In the first 30 days, it’s a time of discovery and understanding. I want to know what’s working and what’s not. On the people side, it’s about getting to know them—the employees, customers, partners, investors, and board. I’m trying to build trust.”

Graham believes trust is a process and the result of behavior. “My role is to become a leader that’s trusted. Behavior builds trust. I’m transparent and personal, even with something as simple as learning people’s names,” he said.

Being ultra-transparent as a leader isn’t mainstream, and Graham gets that. “If you’re open, people believe in you. When you’re not, they don’t. As my father said, ‘Always tell the truth then you’ll remember what you said,’” he commented.

He also has the perspective that the goal of trust is to minimize risk. “Startups have failures, but it’s an opportunity to show customers how good we can be in difficult times. It bonds relationships,” Graham shared.

Graham and Fox also talked about Theory X and Theory Y. Theory X is authoritarian, while Theory Y is participative and evident of leaders trusting people to take ownership. Graham’s a huge proponent of Theory Y. He said, “You get more out of employees, faster decision-making, and produce more results. People are happier and work harder.”

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