Portraits of Leadership

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“Lead, follow or get out of the way.”  Thomas Paine

portraits-BennyL2While Lee Iacocca and others may claim credit for the quote above, it was first spoken by Thomas Paine, famous revolutionary and author of “Common Sense. “  It’s truer now than ever before.

It’s been fun through my career to witness many great business leaders and leading businesses from a bird’s eye vantage point.  I’ve seen a fair level of success with businesses, as well as witnessing a fair level of business failures.

So what is the point?  Understanding business from a visceral level is better than anyone’s canned work, studies, or textbooks. Authentic leadership and true innovation should be recognized and celebrated.

Leading businesses and business leaders deserve marketplace attention. That’s why Alpha Board was created.  Recognition and visibility is not only good for those companies and leaders, it’s good for business.  It’s also good for the organizations that help provide that recognition.

The art of the game:

Just because we recognize success though does not mean that we cannot learn from failures. Let’s not forget those who fail while gallantly trying.  Failure must be celebrated for a number of reasons.  Most notably because it takes a series of failures to achieve success.

The average football play results in less than five yards gained, and at any point in time, the odds are significant that the ball will either not move forward at all or a player will be sacked for lost yardage.

Yet we don’t stop watching football.  We don’t abandon our loyalties.  We always wish for the players to stand up, dust themselves off, and run another play.

Look at baseball.  A .300 batting average is something to be celebrated.  A .333 or .350 are worthy of Hall of Fame status.  And, without me going back and doing much research on the topic, that means that you can fail 70 percent of the time and still be a hero.

Now, before I go on, let me say I’ve had two personal experiences related to this. First, my experience growing up on a large family farming operation, in dry weather and rocky hills.  Second, I worked at 3M, one of the most respected “timeless” innovators in American business.  In both cases, there were systems to deal with failure, and an attitude that if you have not failed at some point, you have never done anything.

I did not mean to get too sidetracked on the failure mode, but let’s remember that first, the likely chance of failure is even more reason to celebrate success.  Second, great people learn great things from failure, and they ultimately go on to achieve great successes.

So, in the next discussion, we’ll dig deeper into the topics of business leadership and innovation.

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