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A Message from the CEO
Much is Expected

I recall hearing a phrase “to whom much is given much is expected” and have been reflecting upon it. There are variations on this theme: from the Bible (Luke 12:48) – “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” Or even from Uncle Ben of Stan Lee's Spider-Man –“With great power comes great responsibility.” Regardless of the source the idea resonates with me as I think about how much is demanded today of leaders, whether they’re in charge of companies, of governments, or of families – all are lofty positions of “leadership” where much is expected.  

The idea has more than one meaning to me. In business it means that we put our faith and trust in our leaders to take care of us, to keep our companies running well and profitably, to enact rules supporting growth, and to create career path opportunities to everyone can learn, and grow and flourish in their respective careers. We simply trust that our CEOs are making sacrifices, working harder and longer hours than most other employees, spending many more sleepless nights thinking about the issues facing them in this economic environment. Often they must be both the face and the heart of the company.

The idea can also mean that more is expected of someone in a position of prominence. If someone has risen to the top of their “game” we expect them to be not only the best, but to behave the best. Perhaps some of that is lost on certain CEOs, athletes, or politicians. I, for one, do not want to be cynical over what I read about some people abusing power or behaving badly. I hold fast to the notion that leaders in whatever field should be held to a higher standard – I do expect more from them.

Quite some time ago, when I was in a different role, a former boss of mine put this in perspective for me. I asked him why he was so much harder on me than others equal to me, and why he expected me to do more things than others. His answer was blunt – “Because you’re better than you realize. I expect more from you and hold you to a higher standard.” It was both flattering and humbling at the same time. I decided then and there that I was never going to “lower the high bar,” for myself, so to speak.

You’re lucky if there are those in your life who encourage and inspire you – who expect much of you.


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Mary Kier is Chief Executive Officer of Cook Associates and a member of the board of directors of InterSearch Worldwide. In addition to her role as CEO, Mary also heads the firm's Consumer & Retail and Diversity & Inclusion practices. Throughout her 27-year search career with Cook Associates, Mary has conducted hundreds of executive search assignments for a vast array of clients, including Fortune 500 companies, mid-sized organizations, private equity groups and their portfolio companies as well as privately held businesses.