Just came back from a fascinating conference in Las Vegas where I heard Bill Fields speak. For those of you who aren’t familiar, he headed up Walmart’s US Retail Stores Division in the 1990’s. A highly successful businessman he has become an advisor to the company I have recently joined. As he walked on stage with a beautiful dog, (I think it might have been a black lab) my first thought was “he’s blind”. Not the case. He shared that there was no one home to take care of the dog, so he brought Tank along with him. A man of his wealth I can only assume he had his own plane so traveling with Tank was easy. Observing his sensitivity to his dog while on stage demonstrated just how much heart the man had. His speech was inspirational to the distribution network of this 5-month-old new company. He shared the progression of his career at Walmart having worked directly with Sam Walton for years. By bringing normally unavailable products to rural communities throughout the US Walmart changed the nature of geographic distribution throughout the country. Their strategy was to produce a better life for those living in rural America.
Bill learned the importance of Products, Promotion and People. During this discussion, he referenced a speech he heard Gen. Colin Powell make about the first Gulf War. According to Fields he spoke of 12 rules for leadership and management. Once he discussed the 12 he then said, “throw those 12 away all you really need to know is rule 13 and 14.”
Rule 13: When in charge take charge. Make things happen for yourself those you love and care about.
Rule 14: Do the right thing. Perhaps, let your conscience be your guide.
I began to think about how many people in managerial positions actually take charge. I can recall a number of client situations where people did not feel they had the authority to take charge. Consequently enormous amounts of energy and probably resources and money were wasted. And, what about the energy of the individual feeling disempowered?
Do the right thing. How many times do we compromise our own values and ethics? I know so many who do what they think their boss or another might want them to do. It takes courage to do what you think is right. Recently in a Fortune magazine feature it talked about the fortune 500 companies looking to hire returning young military officers. They liked the way they could make decisions in the midst of a great deal of uncertainty.
Bill Fields said, “Walton could make ordinary people achieve extraordinary things if they would work together as a team.” Fields believes the key to everything in life is having high expectations. “We get what we expect.” When I see some of our youth living in fear and taking jobs they don’t value it pains me. Their expectations are so low. It’s impossible to have an engaged organization if you don’t have high expectations. Perhaps a formula we should consider is:
High expectations+taking charge+doing the right thing with integrity= an engagedorg.