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Chobani's Tim Brown: Be yourself to lead others

Alison Paul and Tim Brown

Authenticity is the key to effective leadership and strong team work, Tim Brown, president and COO of Chobani, told more than 300 senior executives at the NEW Executive Leaders Forum, August 2 in Santa Barbara.

"When you think about the energy it takes to be something other than yourself, that all comes out of the bank," Brown said during "C-Suite Insights: Leading Through Disruption," a one-on-one interview with past NEW Chair Alison Kenney Paul, leader and principal at Deloitte LLP. "The more you can be yourself, the greater energy, passion, creativity and ideas you can bring to the table."

Brown said he encourages new and emerging leaders to work in a role that allows them to be themselves to succeed. "If you say to yourself ‘I’m an introvert and I’m in sales’ – that brings a lot of tension. You have to bring your game."

Paul asked Brown to share the qualities he values most in his team. "I would start with solidarity,” Brown said, emphasizing collaboration over blind allegiance."

For all team members, transparency and the ability to prioritize are essential to success. "Get your concerns out so we can deal with them in the room," he said, "and staying on your priorities, as a group, builds the team’s confidence."

Finding the right leadership style takes time and perseverance, according to Brown, who joined Chobani from Nestlé Waters North America in March. "It’s a learning journey. Get comfortable being uncomfortable. It’s like exercise. Break yourself down, learn new things.

"You have to have the confidence to know that you’re not going to be great," Brown emphasized. "That there’s going to be a learning curve."