Never lead from your chair

Sam Walton was the founder of Walmart, and he had many quotes over his years of leadership. One that really impressed me is “never lead from your chair.”

I believe this could be one of the greatest business success secrets of all time. It has been seen in many people from Henry Ford to Ronald Reagan to Bill Marriott.

It simply means to get up and get involved in your business; meet and speak with your people, and let them know that they are important to what you are doing and to what your company is doing. If you are in sales like me, it means making sales calls with your people and leading by example. It also means doing in front of people what you expect them to do. Leading by example is one of the most powerful leadership qualities a person can have.

We have all seen situations where a business manager or group leader will just make decisions from his chair and expect everyone to carry out his orders. Obviously, there are times when a leader does send emails and make decisions from his/her office, but what I am talking about is a metaphor of leading a group while being involved as compared to just giving orders and hope they are followed.

In our world of websites, emails, texts, it is so easy to assume that an email or a text will get the job done. Sometimes it does facilitate business, but it rarely establishes business. Over the last couple of weeks, we have had several hotel deals that needed a verbal introduction rather than an email introduction. There were five of these such calls that I made over the last several weeks. I can tell you that every one of the calls were well received and appreciated by the clients far more than if I had emailed them. People get reams of emails of which many they do not respond to, but a personal call is in my opinion “business 101.”

I think if managers, directors, and employers would go talk to their folks, hear their opinions, and ideas, many of the decisions that are made would be different. Sometimes you have to walk into the forest to actually see the trees, even though you already know what they look like.

Therefore, Sam Walton’s idea of leading a company is very on point today as well as it was in his time. His company outlasted many volume discount retailers, such as GEX, Dixiemart, Kmart, Memco, American Wholesale Club, Edwards, PriceRite, etc. It was probably because he would actually go to the stores, talk to the people, and lead from that position, rather than sit in his office and make decisions. It is also noteworthy to tell you that Sam Walton drove his same old truck to the same diner to eat breakfast with his same old friends, and this was even after he was a billionaire. His philosophy was to keep it simple, keep it real, and lead by example. KT

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