Numbers alone do not define great leadership. Growth, global expansion, record-setting revenues:
these are all signs of a good leader and the results of leadership.
The true mark of a great leader is how he achieves these financial wins.
Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are sure to
miss the future. –John F. Kennedy
People only change out of necessity, in the face of impending crisis. This is what
evolutionary psychologists call "Darwinian scripts." It's a natural part of being
human, left over from the days when survival was the only goal.
In practice, it means that people focus on threats in the here and now, rather than
consider what problems lie in the future.
A good leader turns around a company in crisis. The mark of a truly great leader
is one who looks for improvements even when things are going well.
If the highest aim of a captain were to preserve his ship, he would keep it in port
forever. –Thomas Aquinas
The idea of, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!" plays to humanity's natural impulses,
the Darwinian scripts of the average mind. Things are working fine, just leave
them alone or you might screw something up!
This fails to consider the need to look to how you can make things better.
Something can nearly always be better: marketing, merchandising, new ideas,
and new ways of doing business.
Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower. –Steve Jobs
There are two easy steps to stop running your Darwinian scripts:
Let the phone ring
Effective leadership is putting first things first. Effective management is discipline,
carrying it out. –Stephen Covey
The next time the phone rings, don't answer it. It's hard to do, right? We're not
done. Keep ignoring that ringing phone, only answering every third or fourth call.
Practice this for a day. Did the world end? Of course not.
You are now on your way to realizing that not every demand for your time is
urgent. Or, at least not as urgent as you think it is. Once you realize this, you'll be
amazed at how much extra time you have. Now, you're ready for the second step in
ditching your Darwinian scripts.
Where there is no vision, there is no hope. –George Washington Carver
The key to keeping your day-to-day business running while still looking toward
the future is rapid, small-scale experimentation. Come up with as many ideas as
you can, but also, bring in the rest of your team.
Sam Walton lived by this rapid trial and error process. Along the way, he built the
Fortune 500's top company, Wal-Mart, from a single location in 1962 to over
11,000 today. That's a lot of trial and error.
My attitude is never to be satisfied, never enough, never. –Duke Ellington
Employ another Walton habit: Keep a notepad on you at all times. Every time you
have an idea, write it down. Look at your business and at other businesses both in
and outside your industry. You never know when a great idea will strike.
Great leaders encourage input from the boots on the ground. Decisions are yours,
but the different experiences and talents of other people are what make an
organization great. Consider their ideas and try them. You're working on a small
scale, not a grand rollout. The more experiments you try, the more successes you
find. Sure, most ideas won't be better than what you're already doing, but that's
the beauty of quick action. You try, you succeed or fail, you get out. Then, you take
those successes and implement them on a larger scale.
I have always been driven to buck the system, to innovate, to take things beyond
where they've been. –Sam Walton
This method of repeated experimentation and implementing many new ideas to
find those big wins is how you build your brand as a visionary in your field. No
one sees all of the hard work, the trial and error going on backstage. They only see
It's like watching a swan glide across a lake. It looks graceful, right? However,
underwater, there's a heck of a lot of paddling going on.
Jesse Gee has a long history of guiding organizations to incredible growth, beginning with his first start-up,
which eventually grew to employing over $1,000 people with annual aggregate loans in excess of $1.5 billion.
Today, Jesse Gee runs a successful solar energy organization that fulfills the needs of customers in 12 major U.S.
markets. Never content with a single focus, Gee also has interests in dozens of businesses and serves on several
boards in the energy, finance, and construction industries. Visit www.JesseGee.com to read informational
ramblings from Jesse about leadership and entrepreneurship.