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Thursday / April 25.
HomeOpinionsMaking the business your business: Five lessons from the corner office

Making the business your business: Five lessons from the corner office

The team is responsible for delivering on short-term goals while transforming the business into what it must become in the future. The temptation is strong to focus disproportionately on the short term, and that is a fatal mistake.

Stacey Tank, The Home Depot

 

I recently waved farewell to a job I deeply loved running corporate communications and external affairs at The Home Depot. In my new role, I lead three businesses in what we call the “do it for me” space. If it’s time for a kitchen renovation, you need new flooring, or you simply want to upgrade your windows, I’m your gal.

The new year is a wonderful time for reflection. With vivid memories of my two boys disappearing into a cloud of Legos and video games from Santa’s bounty, I sat by the fire thinking through themes from the past six months as I’ve ridden this new bucking bronco.

More specifically, I’ve come to appreciate just how much my time in the comms function prepared me for this new challenge. A number of learnings come to mind that may be helpful for PR pros.

The basics remain

There’s no substitute for hard work, critical thinking, deep listening, human connection, business smarts, external focus, innovation, experimentation, teamwork, and fun. It’s true in comms, and it’s true in business. I am grateful for cross-functional roles from my past, too. They’ve helped me wear many hats throughout each day, they’ve helped me become a better communicator, and they’ve certainly helped me in my present role.

Embracing the paradox of the short and long term

The team is responsible for delivering on short-term goals while transforming the business into what it must become in the future. The temptation is strong to focus disproportionately on the short term, and that is a fatal mistake.

One team, one dream

As simple as it sounds, building a high-trust, capable, cohesive management team is make or break.

Rowing thousands of canoes in the same direction

Clear vision and excellent execution rule the day. A century ago, Thomas Edison reminded us that genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. Once you’ve co-created a clear vision and strategy, the secret recipe for success is bringing the gang along.

Does the organization understand the vision and believe in it? Are there channels for all levels of the organization to influence the playbook and make it better? There are few things more powerful than thousands of employees running through brick walls to make the vision a reality. 

The buck stops with you

Even though some people call the CCO the “conscience of the organization,” I’m spending even more time stepping back and reflecting on my biggest decisions through the lens of our values.

Are we doing the right thing for our customers and employees? Will these decisions stand the test of time? Do they align with our broader purpose? Can I lay my head on the pillow at night knowing I did absolutely everything I could to serve the organization?

I’m no longer giving counsel on the big business decisions — I’m making them. And that ignites a profound desire and responsibility to get it right.

It’s a privilege and a thrill to ride this roller coaster. As the world continues to shift, we now see more than 50% of CCOs reporting directly to CEOs, which requires a different level of business acumen. This is great news for CCOs who’d enjoy the chance to run a P&L – something I’m certain we’ll see more of as the years tick by.

Stacey Tank is VP of home services at The Home Depot. Last June, after three-plus years as CCO at the company, she was promoted to that post, in which she leads three business units.

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