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Rory Read, COO of Dell: Build on Trust

Rory Read

Rory Read sees the value in working well with others. The chief integration and chief operating officer for Dell Technologies has overseen the union of Dell Inc. and EMC Corp., the largest technology merger in history.

He recently shared lessons from his decades of leadership with a McCombs School of Business audience. 

Grow your people

"I am proud of the people — not just the CEOs — who I helped grow and develop throughout their careers. Because it's your responsibility as a leader to not only grow the company but to grow the people that make up the company. That's ultimately your mark. Remember, as a leader you're playing the long game. This isn't about what happens in three months."

We're all alike

"I've worked all over the world. I've done international jobs for almost 30 years. Everyone is very much more alike than they are different: They want to be valued, respected, and have opportunity to achieve their objectives in life."

Look both forward and back 

"Priority is a huge thing. It's easy to say everything is important. It's more difficult to simplify. What are the three, five, seven things we need to get done? I have a routine: I get up in the morning, go for a run, take a shower, and then I look in the mirror and reflect on the previous day. 'How did it go? Did I leave interactions better than I found them?' I do it to grow, not to tear myself down. I might have made mistakes. I want to right those wrongs, but I'm doing it to grow."

Abide by the 'say-do' ratio

"If you make a commitment, it's a bond. That's something to really think about. If you say you're going to do it, own it and do it. That's the say-do ratio, and it’ll help your entire career if you manage that ratio. It's hugely important."

Ensuring a smooth Dell-EMC integration

"There are four big reasons why it went well: One Michael Dell and [former EMC CEO] Joe Tucci, two industry titans, respect each other and they value each other. Two, we put really good people on the project. Three, the overlap between the two companies is minor: There's a little bit in mainstream storage and sales, but there were only 1,200 accounts out of 10,000 that overlapped. Lastly, we started the integration teams immediately. For the first two months, we said, 'You can make no decisions because we're in a go-shop period. All you can do is learn about the other person's business.' Those two months set the foundation. We talked about the concept from Stephen M. Covey’s book 'The Speed of Trust' that if you do it the right way and build it on trust, you'll get a better outcome. We had every person read that book. We got them focused on what we were trying to do. We set the noble cause and we executed."


#1 The "Say-Do" ratio sounds

The "Say-Do" ratio sounds like what my father taught me as a young man, "Your Word is Your Bond". He also taught me that when you shake hands you've made a contract, and you honor it. Cary Michael Cox

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