8 Keys to Leading your Team with Greatness


  1. Maintain Absolute Integrity. When Leonard Roberts became CEO of Arby’s, the fast food chain was struggling. He turned it around by promising more service, support and money to his franchisees. When Arby’s owner disagreed and refused to pay staff bonuses, Roberts resigned from the board in protest and was eventually fired. He survived that firing – and a subsequent firing as CEO of Shoney’s for a similar stand – to take the reins of Tandy Corp., largely because of his renown in the franchise world. “You cannot maintain your integrity 90 percent and be a leader,” Roberts says. “It’s got to be 100 percent.”
  2. Know Your Stuff. Not yet 30 years old by the time he directed “Jaws,” Steven Spielberg already was a self-made man. Rejected twice by the University of Southern California’s film school, Spielberg simply took over an abandoned trailer at Universal Studios, started making contacts and cranked out a short film. The studio president signed him to a seven-year contract because Spielberg proved he knew his stuff.
  3. Declare Your Vision. In fewer than 25 words, can you recite to yourself how your organization makes money and where you plan to be in five years? “Most companies fail in their growth because they don’t have a vision,” says former Southwest Airlines CEO Howard Putnam. “When you have a vision and someone comes to you with some convoluted idea, you can hold it up to the vision and ask, “Does it fit? Does it fly? If not, don’t bother me.”
  4. Show Uncommon Commitment. Dell Computer Corp. rose from nowhere to No. 1 in six months because of Michael Dell’s commitment to speed. He also saved money through assembly and distribution deals that saved even more time. Is Michael Dell uncommonly focused on faster, smarter, better? Says former CEO Andrew Grove: “I have bruises on my back from Mr. Dell when we can’t keep up with them.”
  5. Expect Positive Results. Start by turning disadvantages into advantages. In the early 1900’s, steel magnate Andrew Carnegie commissioned a reporter named Napoleon Hill to research success. One of Hill’s discoveries: Hidden within every disadvantage or obstacle lay an equally powerful opportunity. Successful leaders look for those opportunities.
  6. Take Care of Your People. Mark Peters worked as a director of operations at a Florida fire alarm company. Peters oversaw five managers, four of whom held college degrees. The one who didn’t, Irv, became Peter’s go-to man, but he earned far less than the other four because of the company’s bias toward degreed employees. Peters wound up pleading Irv’s case to the company president, and ultimately, he won both the raise and Irv’s loyalty.
  7. Put Duty Before Self. Homer Laughlin China Co. survived the Great Depression but, by the late 1970’s, cheap imports almost did it in. Laughlin’s owners were well positioned to call it quits, but they knew that liquidating the firm would destroy their community. So they stuck it out for the good of their fourth and fifth generation workers. They invested in a new kiln and revived and old design called Fiesta. Bloomingdale’s launched the revived brand, and Homer Laughlin is now the largest U.S. pottery company.
  8. Stand Out in Front. When Peter Ueberroth agreed to run the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, he promised they would make $15 million in profit. That seemed impossible. Ueberroth plunged in and personally guaranteed negotiated sponsorship contracts worth millions. During the Games, Ueberroth led the way by wearing the uniform of a different Olympic worker each day. By the time the Games ended, they had made $215 million in profit.