Tips for Business Leaders in Uncertain Times

An Interview with Executive Coach David Boyett

You’ve heard the old saying, “It’s lonely at the top.” My friend David Boyett makes it his job to take the lonely out of leadership. As CEO of Boyett Management Services, he focuses on the needs of chief executives at both Dallas-area and national enterprises. He also serves as Group Chair for Vistage International, the world’s largest CEO membership organization.

In my interview with David, we talk about where CEOs can turn for advice, plus some tips for excelling in today’s uncertain market.

What is Vistage International, and what makes it different from other entrepreneurial leadership programs?  

Vistage International is a leadership development organization that uses peer group advisory boards to help leaders make better decisions and achieve better results. Our leadership advisory groups are recruited and led by seasoned local business leaders, most of whom have run their own businesses. Also, membership is by invitation only.

What do business leaders need to be focused on now?

Becoming more nimble. The rate of change is increasing, and decisions have to be better and faster.  Also, business leaders need to make sure they meet regularly with other wise leaders. The market challenges today require every leader to seek help.

What do successful CEOs have in common?

Successful CEOs come in a lot of different sizes and shapes. When I started this work, I pictured them all as one prototype, and they’re not. Some are disciplined, some are not disciplined. Some are very creative, some are not creative.

The common thread is they have an ability to focus on whatever their goal is and are driven to stay on that goal.  Focus and drive pushes you through to find alternatives and creative ways to go about things. That kind of CEO says, “I’m not gonna fail. I’m not going to take no for an answer. I’m going to find a different pathway to do whatever it takes to get me through this.”

That’s one reason I like bringing leaders together in peer groups, because I think oftentimes when leaders gather together they can help each other see those alternative pathways. I think that’s an exciting part about what we do.

What have leaders learned from the downturn we’ve just been through?

We are smart. We are going to be more careful. We are going to be more thoughtful. We are not going to be wasteful, hopefully. No longer can the weak succeed. There already has been a shaking out. There will continue to be, and it’s not going to be easy.

A lot of predictions say there is going to be another downturn coming in 2014 and a great big downturn in 2028, so we can’t take things for granted. More and more, people need to collaborate. More and more, people need to be seeking all the wisdom they can in their business, because being a lone ranger is not going to work. The only way to be more careful is to collaborate and get information from other people, to get in the best resources you can. The smartest leaders are carving out a certain amount of their profits or their resources and to get the best help.

For more information about Vistage International and peer-based coaching for CEOs, visit or contact David Boyett.

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Becky Powell-Schwartz, Founder & CEO