Jeffrey Hayzlett

By Jeffrey Hayzlett

Words of Wisdom From a Natural-Born Leader

Words of Wisdom From a Natural-Born Leader 150 150 jeffreyhayzlett

Are you a natural born leader? According to Gallup, only 1 in 10 people are, the rest of us just have to work a little harder at it.  Writing a book or posting a YouTube video about leadership doesn’t make anyone an expert. You need to back it up with experience. 


Keith Krach does. He is definitely a natural-born leader.


Not only has he lead multi-billion dollar companies like Ariba and DocuSign and was the youngest vice president in General Motors history, he just finished a stint as Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment for the United States.  


That’s quite an impressive resume.


Keith took time out of his busy schedule to join the C-Suite Network for our Digital Discussion Leadership Series.  


Besides his business’s undeniable success, Keith’s wisdom is well-known. On his website, he has a section full of “Krachisms” which he defines as a personal mantra to live by, a cross between excellent business advice and personal affirmations to lift the spirit of one’s thinking. 


Let me tell you, Keith dropped plenty of those during our conversation and Q&A session with our C-Suite community. Here are just a few: 

(Note: these quotes may be edited for brevity and accuracy. To hear them unedited listen to the episode of All Business with Jeffrey Hayzlett below) 

On Transformational Leadership: 


“The definition of a transformational leader would be a leader who challenges the status quo and inspires, mobilizes, energizes, and unifies a high-performance team to achieve a noble goal that will leave a profound and long-lasting impact. As long as you have a noble cause in your heart, anybody can be a transformational leader.” 


Dealing with challenging problems: 


“If somebody will bring me a problem, it’s like ‘Hey, bring me a solution with it!’”  


“Every now and then, a problem arrives on your desk that there’s no answer for. The mere fact that it arrived on your desk and you have a great team working for you. It just means that there’s only a probability of success in the solution. What do you do when you get one of those on your desk? I follow a three-step method. First: I assemble the best experts I can find. Second: make sure that (the experts have) different temperaments, talents, and convictions, so they have (a) diversity of thought in terms of functional expertise so where they’re coming from. Then the third step is to suppress the egos and have them focus on the problem. Then you listen. So, when you go to bed at night, you can sleep and say, ‘I know that I had the best brains focused on it, and it was diverse, and there’s only a probability of success.’ You can’t dwell on it.”  

The three things you need to scale a business: 


“I always say there are three big things in terms of getting that team to build a high-performance team. The first one is a noble mission. This is what we’re after, and it’s going to mean a lot if we accomplish it. The second is you need an enemy. If you don’t have one, make it up. That stops the water cooler talk. Let’s go get ‘em, you know. The only thing that’s funner than winning the deal is ripping the esophagus out of your competition. To be honest with you, I never said that, but maybe some people have. 


Then the third thing you need is a plan. That’s where the playbook comes in and the playbook has been a framework that I’ve used with every company I’ve built.  


That’s your vision, your mission, your values, your team rules, your long-term goals, your strategy all boil down to execution.” 


On building a best executive team: 


“As CEO, your most important responsibility is building a high-performance team. I believe the company with the best team wins. Every quarter I would look around my executive team, and I would say, can I upgrade one of these roles and, by the way, the key is to keep that executive.” 


On serving his time as Under Secretary of State 


“We have so much to be grateful for, particularly in this country. If there’s anything that I learned (from) my time out in Washington is the value of freedom and the value of democracy. Democracy is an experiment. The United States, it’s 200 and some years old, and it goes against all the laws of physics, that you know the natural state of things, the bad King, the dictator, and the Emperor. You got to fight every day for that. So, to be thankful that we can live in such a great country.” 

Those words of wisdom are just a sampling of the key insights Keith offered during the discussion. To say he’s a natural born leader is an understatement. Keith and I have been friends for some time now and the wisdom he has acquired is unparalleled. To hear them all, plus a great story about how DocuSign took on Adobe head-on and eventually dominated the category, click here. 


If you’d like to be a part of these Digital Discussions and participate in our Q&A sessions, consider joining the C-Suite Network. For less than the cost of a business lunch a month, you can be a part of a growing community and get the tools you need to become the most strategic person in the room. Click here to learn more.