One Thing Great CEOs Have In Common

Posted On: July 26

As I am preparing to publish a new book, I have spent the last several months taking a very intense look at the current state of leadership. As part of that, I’ve been following several CEOs paving the way in what I believe is a new philosophy on leading an organization to greatness.


A few of the people I have been watching include:

Hubert Joly, the former CEO of Best Buy

Alan Mulally, the former CEO of Boeing and the Ford Motor Company

Ajay Banga, the former CEO of MasterCard

Mary Barra, the current CEO of General Motors

Garry Ridge, the current Chairman of the Board and CEO of WD-40 Company


The Best of the Best.

Each of these individuals has successfully led multibillion-dollar companies. In many cases, their companies had more than 100,000 employees. All have won prestigious awards and are recognized as some of the top CEOs in the world. Their careers have been stellar. They are true “rock stars” of the business world.

In addition to their business acumen, strategic insight, bold decision-making, exceptional communication skills, and inspirational leadership. They all had one other thing in common. They understand that all organizational success starts with taking care of your people.

Mullaly saved Ford with a strategy that literally said, “people first.”

Joly pulled Best Buyback from the brink of bankruptcy by “unleashing human magic.”

Banga and Barra focus on connecting their employees’ personal purpose with the company’s purpose.

At the same time, Ridge has created explosive growth at the WD-40 Company, creating a tribe of like-minded people committed to excellence.

There are two phrases that I’ve mentioned a thousand times, but I’m going to repeat them.

Your company’s success is directly determined by the quality of the people you can get, grow, and keep on your team.

The customer’s experience will never exceed the employee’s experience.

Cecil Van Tuyl, founder of the nation’s largest privately-owned auto dealership group who went from working on a farm to billionaire, told me.

“You can kid yourself about a lot of things in your business, but at the end of the day, it’s all about people, people, people.”


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