One of the most pleasant leaders I've ever interviewed is Ron Andrews, head of HR for Prudential Financial. Ron is one of those people who makes you feel like you have his full and undivided attention. Today I want to pull back the curtain on how Ron's "nice" personality led him to be the head of HR for a company that has more than $1.1 trillion in assets under management and approximately $3.5 trillion of gross life insurance in force worldwide.
Ron on consistency:
“I relate very effectively to the most senior people as well as people who take out the trash in my office. I can say things to leaders a lot of people can’t because I try to be very consistent. I don’t have a different persona or approach to different people. That adds to credibility."
How Ron stays connected:
That accessibility has contributed to the horizontal sense of connectedness he focuses on implementing at Prudential. Andrews prioritizes staying connected with the HR leaders for all five major businesses within the company. Not only does he meet with them regularly, he also communicates with team members across the globe through a regularly updated blog and video messages. “It’s all designed to build a greater sense of connectedness,” he said.
The Secret Power of Nice
Andrews was not always sure that his personality would serve him in corporate America. Early in his career at Prudential, he encountered a group of cutthroat young professionals. “They were not nice. They had huge egos. And I wasn’t like that at all,” Andrews said. “I began to get concerned that I was out of place—that I would have to be like that if I was going to be successful. It worried me.”
The “cutthroat” colleagues made Andrews doubt his future at Prudential. Then he was charged with working with John Strangfeld, who now serves as Prudential’s Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President. Strangfeld was a breath of fresh air for Andrews.
“He was thoughtful, caring, low-key, and he was doing really well,” Andrews said. “That gave me hope that I could still be myself and be successful in this firm. I committed from that point on that I was not going to not be myself.”
Have you ever had doubts about your career because of your personality? I'd love to hear about how you overcame it or are working through it. Share in the comments!
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