Cisco CEO: The First Person You Fire Is One Of The Most Important Decisions You'll Ever Make


Cisco John Chamber

Fortune Brainstorm TECH 2014

Cisco CEO John Chambers

In a few short months, Cisco CEO John Chambers will celebrate his 20-year anniversary as Cisco's CEO. He took the job in January 1995.


We recently met with Chambers and asked him if he's ever fired someone.

"Sure," he told us.

While we didn't probe him about that first experience, he did say two things that every manager could take to heart.

You might never feel 100% sure about your decision to fire the person, but here's how you know you need to do it, he says:


The hardest decision you do is to let someone go, especially someone that's a good person and is trying hard. When a leader doesn't do his or her job it isn't just a problem with the person, they take their whole organization down.

Often what I tell a new CEO asking for advice, or one of my own new leaders, is the two most important decisions that your team is going to watch is the first person you hire (and the first person you promote) - because you are saying that's the type of person I want. And the first first person you fire.