Corner Office Lessons from an Unexpected CEO

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What would it be like if one day you were sitting in your V.P. office at a very successful software enterprise company, and without any warning you were suddenly thrown into the C.E.O. role and responsible for every aspect of that company?

A similar scenario was played out a few years ago by Chris Wacker after his wife, Nien-Ling (the founder and C.E.O. of Laserfiche) was diagnosed with cancer.  Day by day as the cancer took a toll on her health, he began to take over her responsibilities as interim C.E.O.  Then when Nien-Ling lost her battle with cancer, he stepped into the role full-time.

He never dreamed he’d be responsible for the operations of the entire company along with having to lead all the people who worked there. However, to honor his wife’s business legacy over the last twenty years, he dove in and worked hard to keep the company on track.  As he continued to swim in unfamiliar waters in his C.E.O. role, he reflected often on the leadership style Nien-Ling utilized when she was running the company.

Wacker wrote an article for Fast Company Magazine about that experience, listing seven leadership lessons he learned from emulating his wife during the last five years as acting C.E.O.  Those lessons include:

  1. Money is a byproduct of a job well done
  2. Look for good people, and good work will follow
  3. Aim for precision, not perfection
  4. Create a self-sustaining culture
  5. Creativity in coding is underrated
  6. An eight-hour day is enough
  7. Create something future generations can be proud of

Each lesson is important to adopt and well worth the time to read.  You can learn more about each Waker’s insights by reviewing his article here.


If this information was helpful and prompted you with an increased desire to improve your effectiveness as a leader so you can take your team to the next level, contact us to learn more about our Aepiphanni Ascend Leadership Development program.  Fill out the form below and we’ll be happy to schedule a Coffee & Consult to chat in more detail about how we can help.

Kris Cavanaugh Castro is the People Development Coach at Aepiphanni, a Business Consultancy that provides Management Consulting, Implementation and Managed Services to business leaders and entrepreneurs seeking to improve or expand operations. We are the trusted advisor for business leaders who are seeking forward-thinking solutions to help them plan for and navigate through the challenges of business growth.  Kris has over 25 years of coaching, training and mentoring leaders to greater success; and she periodically writes about leadership development and facilitates change management conversations.

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