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HP Inc's CEO: How to Lead Through a Company Split

May 30, 2016 00:00 AM UTC
- Updated April 29, 2020 17:18 PM UTC

Dion Weisler explains.

Dion, HP is going through so much change. So what would you say is the most important thing that you have to do as a leader to be successful in getting through this dramatic change? Indeed we are going through tremendous-- we're reinventing the company. And we've taken it from such great heritage that Bill and Dave created over so many years. And I think as a result of that, we have some of the best, brightest minds in the industry. And as a leader, what you need to do is channel all of that energy in a very specific way. And so my job and the job of my leadership team is to ensure that we're all going in the same direction, using all that collective energy. You've made it very clear that your vision is that for HP to be more innovative, more nimble, more of a trendsetter. How do you get people to believe in that vision and to follow your lead? Yeah. Well, I think it's about leading by example. And I'm a very hands-on leader. And I think that's important in these industries that move incredibly quickly-- spending time with customers, with partners in our laboratories. Talking to engineers that are creating our products is incredibly important, and then celebrating the successes that we have and learning from the failures. It's OK to fail-- fail fast. But then when you do have some of the amazing products and services that we're delivering, celebrate them. And then people follow. They believe in them. I understand that Meg Whitman, the CEO of Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, is still involved with you and the other half of HP. To what extent is she helping you during this transformation? Well she's the chairman of the board, of course. But beyond that she's a close personal friend. And I look up to her as an amazing business leader. She took Hewlett-Packard through a very turbulent time in its history and created two-- not one but two great companies. And so Meg and I talk frequently. I value her opinion in business. She's involved where we need her to be involved in her capacity as chairman. But she's also allowed us to operate-- recognize she's not the CEO of this organization. But she is the chair and she remains a strong driving force. Has she given you any specific leadership advice? Look, she said to me that follow your instincts. Be data driven. And be fact based. Do what you think is right for the business. And when you believe you're ready to make a decision, make that decision and go and execute. Everybody is talking these days about disruption and disruptors. Especially in Silicon Valley where you're located, there's a new startup almost every single day. How worried are you that HP could become irrelevant even though it's such a legendary company? I think every CEO's job is to be paranoid about not only your current competitors but who might be developing the next product or service in a garage. Living in Silicon Valley, you see that every day. When I go to Israel and there's 5,000 startups in this tiny little country, you've got to know and have your finger on the pulse of what's going on, and making sure that you continue to create and invent categories that you remain relevant. And be prepared to even disrupt your own traditional businesses to do that. In your very long career, Dion, what would you say is the best leadership advice that you've ever gotten? I think that I got that advice very early on in my career-- I fact before it became my career-- from my father, who said to me, "We gave you two ears and one mouth. And you should use them in the relative proportion in which they were given." I think that's pretty sound advice. Meaning what? What was his point, listen more? Yeah. His point was if you listen more and you want to deeply understand what's happening around the world, that you should really listen. Internalize before you speak. Think before you act. And I think that's great advice not only in leadership but in life itself.