For Peter Grauer (AB ’68), chairman of Bloomberg LP parent company Bloomberg Inc., strong leadership revolves around duality.
The most effective leaders at the media and technology giant share the ability to combine apparently contradictory attributes, what Grauer described as the “and factor” during a recent talk at UNC Kenan-Flagler.
Its most effective leaders, he noted, can inspire people to follow them with their strategic vision, but then also dig in at the tactical level. They often are noted for giving strong direction, while also being open to challenges. They empower employees by trusting them to work independently, but can be equally hands-on with the situation requires it.
“For me it has always been critical to start with the most basic aspect of leadership – understanding how to leverage your strengths and mitigate your weaknesses,” Grauer said. “Leaders who exemplify the ‘and factor’ in our company are dedicated to the company and innovate and embrace change.”
Bloomberg unearthed the importance of this duality with research focused on the leadership qualities that have powered Bloomberg’s success and that its employees value most. The company analyzed annual evaluations and feedback data from more than 600 managers to compile the findings, Grauer said.
The research gives us a view beyond what good leadership looks like. It provides us insight … into what works best in our culture.”
Bloomberg, the largest provider of financial data in the world and the operator of the world largest private communications network, also has worked hard under Grauer’s tenure to ensure that its management always has access to some of the world’s leading experts on leadership through the Global Leadership Forum the firm hosts.
“Today’s leaders need to understand what differentiates leadership given global interdependence and complexity,” Grauer said. “The forum provides clarity around strategy, so managers can be sure to connect what they do day-to-day with the big picture.”
During the past four years, the company boosted its headcount by more than 40 percent to support its rapid growth. Still, Grauer said he is a proponent of “constructive paranoia,” worrying about ballooning to corporate obesity and developing siloes that stymie the collaboration that has fueled Bloomberg’s success.
“We are the biggest at what we do, and we have the fastest growth rate,” Grauer added. “The people who come to work for us every day don’t think they are as good as they are. We have a culture of corporate humility. The world is littered with great companies who have lost their way because they believed their press.”
One of the ways he supports the ongoing collaboration at the firm is an open seating plan that encompasses all of the one million square ft. Bloomberg’s New York City headquarters building – including his desk and that of the CEO.
“I want employees to know that if they want to stop by, that I am accessible.”
Bloomberg also nurtures leadership skills by asking its managers to serve on the boards of the various nonprofits the company supports with its expansive sustainability and philanthropic efforts, Grauer added.
“We are a world leader in corporate sustainability today,” he said. “The concept of giving back is a direct extension of what we do.”
Grauer has been a member of the Bloomberg board since October 1996 and was named chairman of the board in March 2001, succeeding Michael R. Bloomberg. Grauer joined Bloomberg full time as chairman, president and CEO in March 2002.
Prior to this, he was a managing director of Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette from 1992 to 2000, when DLJ was acquired by Credit Suisse First Boston.
He is a member of the Board of Trustees at UNC-Chapel Hill and is involved in several other entities in support of the University. He is a past recipient of the William Richardson Davie Award, which is the Board’s highest honor. He also serves on many important boards within the New York City area, including the Inner City Scholarship Fund.