Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Most Important Leadership Lesson

I am always looking for novel perspectives on business leadership, or even reminders of leadership basics that are often forgotten. And lately I have been finding them in the series on leadership in the Sunday Business section of The New York Times in Adam Bryant’s column titled, "Corner Office," where various CEOs and senior executives answer some fundamental questions, such as: “What is the most important leadership lesson you have learned? How has your leadership changed over time?”

Here—based on interviews with the vice-chairman of Wal-Mart Stores, Eduardo Castro-Wright, and the CEO of Darden Restaurants, Clarence Otis, Jr.—are some points I found worthwhile that all of us can learn from.

I particularly like and believe in what Mr. Castro-Wright says. He makes two salient points: "Leadership is about trust. It's about being able to get people to go to places they never thought they could go. They can't do that if they don't trust you." But that trust, he implies, can only be built, and the consequent achievements it enables, "if you do not care who takes credit for" the achievement. As we know, business is a team sport, but the team, Mr. Castro-Wright implies, may be as important as any individual ego. It is no doubt why at Makovsky + Company, our "collaboration" value wins out over the others when we recognize role-modeling via our We Achieve program.

The point is reinforced by Mr. Otis from another angle. "Leaders really think about others first. They think about the people on the team, trying to help them get the job done...and think last about 'what does this mean for me.'" He cites his years in the theatre and his reliance on others in the cast as preparing him for his current role. "You could have your piece [lines] down, but if one person on the team [cast] doesn't, you're in trouble."

Technorati Tags: Adam Bryant, Corner Office, Makovsky + Company, Mr. Castro-Wright, Mr. Otis

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