Andy Polansky, CEO, Weber Shandwick: Power List 2016

2016 rank: 1

"Power" is a loaded term.

It conjures up images of that chest-thumping, invective-spewing, fear-inspiring CEO type you see in movies and when you are binge-watching certain television shows.

But Andy Polansky is not that guy.

He’s brains, not bravado.

Vision, not vitriol.

Collaborator, not combatant.

Careful listener, not scene-stealer.

Yet how does a guy with this seemingly gentle demeanor and quiet genius wield that much power?

The reason clients seek him out and colleagues revere him, the reason Weber Shandwick is a place people around the world happily spend a good chunk of their adult lives at, is this (and I quote the great Aretha Franklin): "R-E-S-P-E-C-T."

Andy respects people and ideas. And he convenes and curates them thoughtfully, determinedly, and relentlessly, to drive the right strategy, find the right solution, deliver something fresher, newer, better, and more impactful for the brands and organizations that entrust us to engage their stakeholders.

Andy respects that it takes a team — and teams of teams — to push an enterprise forward, to take leaps, to make a difference. And Andy is the team captain, asking the right questions, offering the right support, and guiding, firmly — days, nights, weekends, holidays, and across mind-blurring time zones. Andy is there.

He’s present — even when the whirl of his world necessitates he be a virtual presence. And Andy has an opinion. But he’s keenly interested in yours.

Now let’s get beyond power and talk super-powers. Andy has them. I know this because I’m his friend on Facebook and he sends birthday greetings to all our mutual friends around 12:01 a.m. on their birthday — no matter where in the world he is or they are. (It always seems to be before their parents, spouses, and children have woken up, whipped up the birthday cake, and located the flattering photo to post.)

I have no clue how Andy does this. But super-powers are mysterious. And extraordinary.

Andy is the force that drives Weber Shandwick. But those classic, cinematic power pyrotechnics don’t apply to him. Andy has redefined power. And the firm, the industry — and every industry that he touches — are better for it.

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