Xerox’s New Chief Tries to Redefine Its Culture

This NY Times article is about Ursula Burns, the latest CEO at Xerox, who scores two firsts with her new position.  This is the first time an African American woman has been named CEO of a major company and the first time one woman has taken the reigns from another woman in the top company position.  More importantly to all the employees she leads, Burns advanced up the corporate success ladder after 30 years of service to the company.

Now at the helm, “She wants its 130,000 employees to get over the past, take more initiative, become more fearless and be more frank and impatient with one another to ratchet up performance.”  While Ms. Burns is implementing her cultural makeover, some of the basics that she learned along the way will remain consistent. “Terminal niceness,” is how she described one such component of the company.

Privy to advice from some of corporate America’s most powerful leaders, Ms. Burns intends to practice what she learned and continues to use paper and pencil examples cited by her mentor, Mr. Hicks during explanations.  When speaking with employees or  prospective employees she asks the key questions, “What is it that you see in this company that you love — that you can love — you can grow to love?”

Ms. Burns represents a leader that appears to utilize common sense and good old fashioned family values to build a network of dedicated and highly motivated employees that believe they are all part of the corporate family in some small way.  She is proof positive that hard work, loyalty, and a desire to grow personally and professionally are a winning business combination.

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