March 11, 2021

Author Adam Bryant Discusses CEO Leadership Lessons with Division of Programs in Business

The NYU SPS Division of Programs in Business (DPB) hosted an Industry Connection Series (ICS) webinar with Adam Bryant, Managing Director of Merryck & Co., on March 10th, 2021. Along with former Amgen CEO Kevin Sharer, Bryant is the co-author of The CEO Test: Master the Challenges that Make or Break All Leaders, recently published by Harvard Business Review Press.

The CEO Test outlines seven essential tests of leadership, gleaned from over 600 in-depth interviews that Bryant has conducted with CEOs for over a decade. Most of those interviews were featured in the “Corner Office” column he launched with The New York Times in 2009, in which he asked chief executives not about their companies but about universal leadership lessons. Bryant and Sharer have distilled their stories and advice into a playbook for mastering the critical challenges of leadership. 

The webinar focused on the first and last chapters of the book: “Can You Develop a Simple Plan for Your Strategy?” and “Can You Master the Inner Game of Leadership?” Bryant began by discussing clarity of strategy as the foundation for any organization and the challenges of simplifying your message. He reviewed common strategy frameworks and offered four key elements for a simple plan, followed by a case study of The New York Times in 2015, as the company shifted its focus from print to digital media. Bryant then discussed the how-to’s of executing a simple strategy.

While the first six chapters of The CEO Test focus on what you need to do as a leader, the last chapter provides insight on who you need to be as a leader. Bryant discussed how to embrace paradox as a part of leadership and shared questions for self-reflection, followed by Q&A with the audience and advice for aspiring leaders. To learn more, graphic notes of the session can be found below.

Sketch notes

Now in its fourth year, the Industry Connection Series has garnered a growing audience for innovative topics such as "VisuaLeadership," "The Performance Management Revolution," and "Design Thinking & Understanding Your Customer." Each session provides DPB students, faculty, alumni, and staff with leading-edge insights into current business trends and industry developments.

Adam Bryant joined Merryck & Co., an executive mentoring firm, as managing director in 2017 after a 30-year career in journalism, including 18 years at The New York Times. In addition to his many roles there as a reporter and editor, he created the weekly "Corner Office" column in 2009, and interviewed 525 CEOs and other leaders over a decade. He has written three books based on the themes that emerged from those interviews, including his latest: THE CEO TEST: Master the Challenges that Make or Break All Leaders, published by Harvard Business Review Press. Since joining Merryck, he has started a popular interview series on LinkedIn with board directors, CEOs and CHROs, and he writes a monthly column on leadership for Strategy+Business magazine. Adam also is the senior adviser to the Reuben Mark Initiative for Organizational Character and Leadership at Columbia University.

DPB is the largest division at NYU School of Professional Studies, with over 2,200 students, 500 faculty, and over 7,000 alumni. The Division comprises four centers of excellence that educate leaders in the functional areas of an enterprise. Each department’s credit and non-credit portfolio of offerings serves students at every level of their careers, providing them with the knowledge and skills required to succeed in critical positions in their professional development.

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