Our President and CEO, Adam Bruckman was among four CEOs interviewed by Leader’s Edge Magazine. Each leader gave insight into how they’ve been able to be successful by relying on their strengths and overcoming their weaknesses. Author, Fiona Soltes gives us the inside look.
As a CEO, passion for the business can be a beautiful thing. But when that passion extends to being engaged in every last detail, things can get ugly.
“I’m not sure exactly what the turning point was,” admits Adam Bruckman, president and CEO of OneDigital Health and Benefits. “But as the company grew larger, it just became impossible to keep up with this growth and still stay involved in every aspect of the business.”
A blindspot had been unveiled. Bruckman recognized he wasn’t willing to delegate. He felt if he didn’t do it himself things wouldn’t be done to his satisfaction.
“Essentially, I was worrying way too much about the small stuff rather than developing my team and trusting this team to help lead and develop the business,” he says.
Fortunately, one of Bruckman’s strengths is a willingness to listen and take feedback. And after hearing the same encouragement to focus on the bigger picture “over and over again,” he finally began to do just that.
“Now, we work regularly with our leaders on building out their teams, delegating more of the tactical work and focusing their time on high-value and strategic activities,” he says. Recognizing and working through that blindspot ended up strengthening not only Bruckman but also the company as a whole.
The most challenging thing about blindspots is that, well, we tend to be blind to them.
But as Bruckman and other leaders can attest, taking the time to honestly explore one’s own strengths and weaknesses—even if takes others helping us recognize what they are—is about far more than personal growth.
Adam Bruckman, President & CEO
OneDigital Health & Benefits
Self-Described Strengths: Visionary, collaborative, inclusive
Admitted Weaknesses: Ability to delegate and stay out of others’ areas of expertise
Bruckman considered himself fairly self-aware. But over the last few years, he’s found unexpected new passion, energy and purpose by diving into something he’s long advocated to others: greater work/life balance.
Bruckman, who played lacrosse while studying economics at Tufts University, coached both his sons through junior levels. But then he was asked to become the varsity lacrosse coach at their high school, leading to “a very reflective few months.”
Yes, he leads an organization of 800 employees, one he started in 2000 at age 32. But he also knew that the shared time with his boys would be fleeting.
I love what I’m doing day to day in my job,” he says. “But I love being with these young men, too, teaching and coaching them. It’s really not that much different. It’s about putting people in positions to be successful, finding ways to motivate them individually, and realizing some need to see a softer side and others need a kick in the butt.
And as he invested time in doing that, he says, his time at the office has become more streamlined and efficient. He has delegated more, and he sweats the small stuff less. And the organization is all the better for it.
“As you get a little larger, you have the luxury of rounding out your leadership team,” he says. “That has really allowed me to not try to be all things to all people but to really focus on what I do well.”
In recent years, the original leadership team of three tripled, including the addition of a COO and several other executive-level positions. (Digital Insurance and its advisory arm, Digital Benefits Advisors, rebranded as a single operating company, OneDigital Health and Benefits, in August.)
“I love the people side of the business, being able to inspire folks,” he says. “That’s what I do well, and the company is best served when I focus on those things, not when I’m telling our CFO how to manage the numbers or our head of sales how to close a deal.
But it’s been something that I’ve had to work hard on over the years, to not feel like I have to have the answer for everything.”
The company—which also has an executive vice president of culture and corporate development—offers a number of different initiatives for employees to likewise discover their unique capabilities, especially focusing on growing leadership from within. One curriculum has four levels, from the basics of interviewing as a new manager to attending leadership training at Disney Institute.
“In our industry, particularly on the agency side of the business, there just aren’t a lot of organizations putting in that time and effort,” he says. “We’ve had really great feedback, and it has been extremely valuable with retention and attracting the right talent…. We work hard on creating an environment where it’s more than just a job.”