CEO implements human element into successful business practices

Published: 22nd January 2010
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Knock, knock, knock.

An anxious hand strikes the door of Chitoka Webb's office, followed by the sharp chirp of a cordless phone fluttering from its base.

The buzz of a vibrating cell phone rattles atop her chestnut-colored desk.

A white cloud pops up on her computer, reminding her of a board meeting in an hour.

Knock, knock, knock.




It's only 8:01 a.m.

There is an indescribable drive within Chitoka Webb. As the CEO of three companies, an indefinable willingness to succeed pours from her heart like a monsoon over the Southwest. For her, each drop that hits the ground is a path leading to an ocean of opportunity.

A confident smile draws across her face. "My day really starts at two or three in the morning," she says, taking a sip from the steaming cup of McDonald's coffee.

Her mind churns like the gears inside a watch. Within each crevasse is a new thought generating another idea to do better than the day before.

"Yesterday's business is none of my business," Webb says. "... I always look at something to improve now. I think about where I want to be, and how I want to get there."

The typical CEO might consists of a 6'0 Caucasian male dressed in a three-button Armani Collezioni carrying a Kenneth Cole briefcase and talking on a Blackberry. But Webb defies the common CEO image. Standing at a little more than 5'3, Webb is only one of the 414,472 female African American business owners in America. You won't see Yale, Harvard or Stanford on her resume; she has no formal education. And if there's anything that sets her personality apart from the serious demeanor of a corporate CEO, it's her radiant smile that instantly warms a room, and the humbleness she carries that makes her easy to approach.

While growing up in the Preston Taylor Housing Projects in Nashville, Tenn., Webb's mother instilled an important philosophy that has influenced her drive to succeed.

"Everything you do was based on how you treated other people. ... I've always had a passion to help others," Webb says.

That passion transpired into opening two heath care agencies and a holdings company. Unity Residential Services, Inc, in Nashville, Tenn. opened in 2004, and Connecting Hearts in Tuscaloosa, Ala. opened a year later. Both companies provide services to intellectually disabled individuals. In 2007, Chitoka L. Webb Holdings opened to coordinate her service organizations in Tennessee and Alabama.

And within each company Webb runs, she practices the same philosophy that is derived from the Golden Rule: We treat people the way we want to be treated.

"You can never go wrong by doing right by other people," Webb says.

So, how does one operate three companies? Webb encourages leadership among her employees because, like the old saying goes, any company is only as good as its employees. She describes her management style as direct and non-emotional, and contributes her success to self-discipline and understanding the responsibility of the future.

For a couple of hours every week, Webb meets with her management team to address ideas, issues and concerns. Webb says it's never been challenging for her to listen to other people because part of leadership is recognizing the potential of others. Webb opens her mind, ears and heart to new ideas, new opportunities and new challenges. Part of the meetings are also dedicated to getting someone's mind away from the week's stressful activities. They begin with a silly, but thought-provoking icebreaker because it gives everyone the chance to get to know one another outside of the daily grind.

"I make sure that whatever it is we do, we add that human component," she says.

In a position of leadership, Webb does is what she describes as "putting out fires." As soon as one problem is extinguished, another can unexpectedly flair up. And before one problem spreads like a California forest fire, Webb adapts herself to change and flexibility. Within a matter of moments, an entire day's worth of work can adjust to accommodate a resolution to a potentially serious problem.

When Webb isn't putting out fires, she focuses on things she can implement to improve her role as a CEO. Webb is truly an open-minded person who seeks the opportunity for growth. She engages herself with books, articles and mentally-stimulating exercises that cater to her future success.

"As stressful, challenging and unpredictable as work can be, I whole-heartedly love what I do," Webb says.

Knock, knock, knock.




To learn more about Chitoka Webb, visit

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