Leadership lessons from Walgreens' CEO

Rosalind Brewer, CEO of Walgreens Boots Alliance, has broad business experience, having held leadership roles at Starbucks, Walmart and Sam's Club. She is one of only two Black women running Fortune 500 companies. She sat down with the Harvard Business Review Dec. 9 to explain her leadership strategy.

Ms. Brewer said it took her stepping back to get ahead. When she started a previous role at Walmart, Ms. Brewer said she initially took a less-senior position instead of a leadership position. She spent 90 days learning on the ground about retail, which ultimately aided greatly in her understanding of the business and its employees. 

When speaking on the loneliness of her position as a Black woman in corporate leadership, she said she has always made it a point to bring her whole self to work and never hide any aspect of her identity or culture. "When I get in these settings I take advantage of an opportunity to learn and educate those around me," she said. 

Ms. Brewer also mentioned that she thinks companies have misplaced their focus on meeting diversity targets instead of really investing in equity and inclusion. She also said she sees diversity as more than just racial, ethnic or gender differences but also differences of thought and culture, and she thinks that putting together people with different perspectives empowers teams to solve challenges together.

"It's about creating these agile teams and putting them against the unique problems to solve. And forcing them to relate to each other and think about how to solve it," Ms. Brewer told the Harvard Business Review.

She advised women in the corporate world trying to work their way up in male-dominated environments "to really do a personal self-evaluation on what you're passionate about and stick to it."

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