21 Ways Rich People Think Differently

By Mandi Woodruff | Business Insider – Tue, Sep 4, 2012 10:50 AM EDT

World’s richest woman Gina Rinehart is enduring a media firestorm over an article in which she takes the “jealous” middle class to task for “drinking, or smoking and socializing” rather than working to earn their own fortune.

What if she has a point?

Steve Siebold, author of “How Rich People Think,” spent nearly three decades interviewing millionaires around the world to find out what separates them from everyone else.

It had little to do with money itself, he told Business Insider. It was about their mentality.

“[The middle class] tells people to be happy with what they have,” he said. “And on the whole, most people are steeped in fear when it comes to money.”

1. Average people think MONEY is the root of all evil. Rich people believe POVERTY is the root of all evil.

“The average person has been brainwashed to believe rich people are lucky or dishonest,” Siebold writes.

That’s why there’s a certain shame that comes along with “getting rich” in lower-income communities.

“The world class knows that while having money doesn’t guarantee happiness, it does make your life easier and more enjoyable.”

2. Average people think selfishness is a vice. Rich people think selfishness is a virtue. 

“The rich go out there and try to make themselves happy. They don’t try to pretend to save the world,” Siebold told Business Insider.

The problem is that middle class people see that as a negative––and it’s keeping them poor, he writes.

“If you’re not taking care of you, you’re not in a position to help anyone else. You can’t give what you don’t have.”

3. Average people have a lottery mentality. Rich people have an action mentality.

“While the masses are waiting to pick the right numbers and praying for prosperity, the great ones are solving problems,” Siebold writes.

“The hero [middle class people] are waiting for may be God, government, their boss or their spouse. It’s the average person’s level of thinking that breeds this approach to life and living while the clock keeps ticking away.”

From Steve Siebold, author of “How Rich People Think.”

Read the full article online.


Infinite Wins Q4 Cup For National Campaign Being Recognized For Outstanding Performance

We are so proud of our team here at Infinite.  The company has been recognized as the nation’s most profitable, productive vendor for our client. 

Throughout the last few months, the team at Infinite has been in negotiations to continue to evolve the relationship with our client.  Due to these negotiations, we were able to outperform every other vendor in the nation.

We doubled in size in the last month and the new promotion to our executive team, Alex
Huynh, will allow us to take on an even larger client load.  We expect to open an additional location in the next few months.

Great job team!

A New Year’s Resolution for Business Success: Build a Better Leadership System


 By Dr. Ray Benedetto and Tom Walter

What are you going to do to make your company better in 2013?  Shooting for financial targets is hardly enough.  Chasing financial goals is futile if the company lacks the human talent necessary to achieve such goals.  In brief, making any company better depends on how leaders retain and leverage their human assets as a distinctive competitive advantage.

Our research has shown how entangled companies sustain distinctive competitive advantages in various industries by building unique and enviable cultures that stimulate creative thinking, constantly generate new ideas, motivate high performance, and consistently delight customers.  Leaders of high-performing companies view their business as a system that requires the synchronizing of key subsystems.  Great leaders know that the future success of any enterprise rests on the strength of their leadership subsystem, which includes the current and future direction of the enterprise and their leadership pipeline—how tomorrow’s leaders are being developed today.

The leadership pipeline is a lot more than merely planning for leadership succession. The pipeline is a set of integrated steps that begins with having the right people on board, extends to daily reinforcement of right behaviors, and manifests itself in discretionary thinking and exceptional performance. If you want to do better in 2013 and beyond, assessing your leadership subsystem is a good place to start. The following questions spanning eight key areas can help you begin:

Core values.  Does the company have a set of explicit core values? Was staff from all levels of the company involved in creating these values?  Are the values easy to understand?  Does the set of core values, taken together, convey the spirit of the company?  Are the values conspicuously displayed throughout work areas to remind employees about the values the company holds most dear?

Code of conduct. Have employees created a code of conduct that exemplifies how core values appear in daily behaviors?  Do employees hold themselves and others mutually accountable for right behaviors? Does the performance evaluation and management system recognize and reward employees for exemplifying core values?

Organizational Purpose.  Does the vision for the company’s future inspire suppliers and key partners as well as employees? Does the company mission clearly state daily commitments in serving the stakeholders?  When employees meet formally to conduct company business, do they review and reinforce the organizational purpose (values, vision, and mission)?

Leadership Philosophy.  Does each employee understand the difference between leadership and management? Is every employee viewed as a leader who has influence upon others?  Does each employee have a defined circle of influence through which he or she can affect change?

Trust and Caring. Is each employee trusted to act as a responsible adult? Have the company shed a 20th century command-and-control management approach for a 21st century trust-and-track leadership approach? Does each and every leader work on building relationships based on trusting and caring for others?  Does the performance evaluation and management system recognize and reward leaders for relationship building? Are leaders who fail to meet this standard assessed, counseled, and coached to develop these skills?  Are leaders who fail to respond to positive development efforts relieved from duties and encouraged to find employment elsewhere?

Learning and Growth. Are employees at all levels taught how to read company financial reports and to assess functional performance related to cost and expense management and revenue generation? Does each employee understand how his or her daily performance contributes to company goals and objectives? Does each employee have an individual development plan that identifies three strengths to be leveraged as well as three improvement areas for the next performance year?

Transparency. Are employees receiving all the necessary daily and weekly information from which to make decisions?  Do employees receive routine, comprehensive reports of company operations they can use to improve service to their internal customers?  Are employees engaged in decision-making at the lowest levels related to cost and expense management as well as revenue generation, if appropriate?

Accountability. Is each employee held accountable for meeting objectives?  Does each employee provide a formal accounting of performance, such as weekly huddles (The Great Game of Business -1992 – by Jack Stack and Bo Burlingham, New York: Currency-Doubleday)?  Responsibility without accountability results in less than optimal performance!

Although answers to some of the above questions may not be easy, they provide a starting point for improving the leadership system within any company.  The eight areas above serve as a framework through which leaders can work during the course of a year.  Some areas are sequential, such as the code of conduct following establishment of core values, while others can run concurrently, such as learning and growth along with transparency.  The keys to success are doing honest assessments, confronting the brutal facts, and pursuing solutions for each response that lacks a definitive “Yes!”

Dr. Ray Benedetto, DM, is a retired USAF Colonel. He founded a consulting firm that helps leaders build high-performing, character-based cultures in addition to his teaching leadership and strategic planning for the University of Phoenix Chicago Campus MBA program. Tom Walter is a serial entrepreneur and nationally recognized speaker on entrepreneurship, leadership and business culture. They are the co-authors of It’s My Company Too! How Entangled Companies Move Beyond Employee Engagement For Remarkable Results. For more information, please visit, http://www.ItsMyCompanyToo.com.

Customer Experience Lessons From The Voice

The third season of the hit series The Voice just ended this week, and I’ve been sitting on a blog post for my “Customer Experience Lessons… ” series since the previous season. For obvious reasons. I started to create my own TV series about The Voice (of the Customer) for the post; that didn’t quite work but isn’t dead yet! I’ve rewritten the post three times! Here’s what I’ve ended up with.

There are three key constituents of the show: (1) coaches/mentors, (2) artists, and (3) the audience. Each one plays an important part in the show.

In your business, there are many stakeholders, but the three key constituents of the customer experience are (1) employees, (2) customers, and (3) leadership/executives. You could make the connection that the coaches/mentors are the leadership or management team, setting the example for the rest of the organization, driving the customer focus and culture; the employees are your artists; and your customers are your audience.

In the early stages of the show, the coaches each choose the artists that will be a part of their teams. Once the teams are set, they coach and mentor their team members, giving them advice and sharing best practices and secrets to success.

Coaching is critical to the growth of your employees, as well to their alignment with the customer-centric focus. Role playing, sharing your expertise, providing feedback, offering opportunities for career development, and recognizing a job well done are all part of coaching. In addition, creating a relationship of mutual trust, showing employees that you stand behind them, and expressing your commitment to their success will improve the employee experience, which, in turn, yields a much better customer experience.

The artists spent a lot of time doing their homework, learning their songs, and practicing in preparation for the show every week.

Your employees must and will do the same. Don’t assume that they know how to deliver great service, especially to your company’s standards. Assume that you need to clearly spell out for them your expectations on how they will interact with your customers and then train them on those expectations. Employees should constantly be learning about your products and services and updating their skills in general, as well, evolving and growing with the business.

While only one person wins The Voice, the artists are split up into teams. Each individual on a team forms a close bond with the other members of their team over the course of their time on the show, as well as with their team leader, their coach.

The same is true for your employees. They are part of a team, whether its their individual departments or the company as a whole. A team collaborates and works together toward a common goal.

Every artist on The Voice has an interesting life story, whether it’s a personal tragedy or just an awesome lifelong dream to become the next big pop star. The backstory is part of what creates that connection for the audience with the artists.

In the customer experience world, there are two types of backstories:

    The Customer’s Story. Know your customers. Every customer is unique. Tailor experiences to the customer. You can’t meet their needs until you understand who they are and what their needs are.
    The Company’s Story. Your company’s story is its history, it’s purpose, its reason for being. Everyone, both customers and employees, need to understand the company’s story.

As with the artists, these backstories also for the foundation for the connection between the customer and the brand.

The show itself is obviously a competition. Artists compete with other artists, but they also compete against themselves, striving to always do better than the previous performance. Coaches and the audience remember.

Customers have choices. Customers remember. Don’t dwell on what your competition is doing; instead, dwell on what you’re doing.

The Voice is all about the performance, about artists giving their best performances every time they’re on stage.

Your customer experience is only as good as your weakest link, right? Make sure every link, every touchpoint, is delivering a perfect 10 performance. Just like in The Voice competition, consistency is only important once you’re performing at your absolute best, better than everyone else. Once you reach that level, the experience your customers have with your organization must consistently exceed their expectations.

The artists were missing their families and friends, but they needed to remain focused on the task at hand.

For your business, that focus needs to be on delivering the best customer experience possible. End of story.

Every single competitor had a goal: to win The Voice. They had dreams of being the next big thing. Many overcame obstacles to be there, to stay true to their dreams, and to achieve their goals.

The goal of a customer-centric organization is to not only meet but to exceed customers’ expectations. Turning customers into raving fans is the ultimate goal. Make sure employees are in alignment; to do so, fall on your brand promise. As I wrote previously
: “The brand promise aligns all of the activities of the organization; that promise guides people, processes, products, systems, etc. Everything you do must support and reinforce the brand promise: every product, every person, every interaction, every touchpoint, all of it. Every time.”

An important component of a music competition is listening, i.e., for the coaches and the audience alike. Coaches are typically listening for pitch, tone, runs, etc., while audience members are listening for great-sounding voices and songs that make them feel something.

You cannot have a customer-centric culture without listening to your customers. Or without really hearing what they are saying.

The Voice contestants were constantly receiving feedback about their performances from their coaches and from others around them.

As an organization, you should be encouraging and receiving feedback from your customers. As an employee, you should be receiving feedback from your mentor/manager and from your customers.

The Voice
The name of the show is, obviously, The Voice. Ultimately, the coaches and the audience are looking for the winning voice, the best-sounding artist from all the choices they have. The coaches’ initial votes are truly about the individual voices, as they have their backs turned to the contestants and cannot see them. They hit their buttons to weigh in, to select an artist for their teams. Artists have a choice, if multiple coaches hit their buttons.

Your customers have a choice. Actually, they have lots of choices. They don’t have a button, but they get to weigh in. They get to vote with their wallets.

Your customers have a voice. Bring that voice into all aspects of the organization, to every touchpoint. Make sure it’s heard. And acted upon.

The Journey
The artists who make it into the top 10 have quite the journey – behind them and ahead of them. The journey behind them is much shorter than what lies ahead. Even if they didn’t win the show, they have built a fan base over the weeks and months that will stay with them well into the future. Those artists in the top 5 – 10 will do well and have great careers ahead of them.

The customer experience is a journey, as well. And just like the artists, your company’s journey behind is much shorter than what lies ahead. What lies ahead is a lot of hard work and focus, a lot of learning and improving, a lot of adapting, a lot of communicating and sharing. It’s never-ending. It’s not an easy road, but those that stay the course find that the reward far outweighs the effort to get there.

When people talk about successful retailers and those that are not so successful, the customer determines at the end of the day who is successful and for what reason. -Jerry Harvey
Read more at http://www.business2community.com/customer-experience/customer-experience-lessons-from-the-voice-0362962#Df2SP95KZ24UmVg8.99

5 Traits of Leaders Who Are Ready for Social Good


Meghan M. Biro, Contributor
‘Tis the season to do good. You might not believe it if you’ve just come from the Mall, but the spirit of good is out there. Perhaps unexpectedly, good deeds and real social change are coming from business leaders who understand that success carries with it the opportunity to exercise social responsibility without the burden of government mandate.

The path to becoming a socially-responsible leader is not as difficult as one might think. It’s a logical extension of the passionate leader’s journey. Not all leaders take it, of course; I could find no real good numbers as I researched this post but my instinct tells me less than 50 percent of successful business leaders go on to contribute to social good in a meaningful way. I’m hoping these numbers continue to increase.

Todd Warren, my fellow Forbes contributor, educator and thought-leader on startup culture, has proposed an awesome post about five attributes of entrepreneurial leaders: vision and dissatisfaction with the present, knowing and taking advantage of one’s unfair advantages, ability to recruit people to extend your vision, flexibility and ability to learn and adapt, and persistence and execution. These attributes are, in my view, the basic requirements for a socially-responsible leader – but wait, there’s more. Warren’s five attributes may make a good entrepreneur but they don’t go far enough to explain why some business success stories – for example Bill Gates – go beyond business success to become social activists and philanthropists. For every Bill Gates there are 20 or 30 Carl Ichans, Mark Cubans, even – and I am a fanboi – Steve Jobs, who achieved enormous personal success and wealth but have not contributed back significantly to society. So how does a business leader transcend personal success and extend his or her skills to the realm of the do-gooder?

I’d argue there are an additional five traits necessary to be a socially-responsible leader:

1) Heightened situational awareness. It’s one thing to be focused on being aware of the business landscape by staying open to ideas to extend and perfect your vision. It’s a different skill to be aware of the world around you. In the movie Scrooged, Bill Murray is completely unaware of his assistant’s life challenges until the ghosts visit him; once his awareness is engaged and the focus expanded from his wants and needs to encompass those of others, he is transformed into a socially-responsible, charitable soul. To become socially responsible, leaders must look beyond themselves to see what motivates, or holds back, those around him. Then he or she can see the need in others – in the world – and turn the intense focus of the entrepreneur to solving larger social problems.

2) Emotional intelligence. Yes, this is one of my favorite themes, for a reason. Until a leader opens
his or her heart and mind to others, turns what is undoubtedly prodigious intelligence and focus outward to understand the challenges of others, there can be no authentic social leadership. If you see an emotionally limited leader doing good works, look for a smart tax advisor standing in the wings.

3) Empathy. This isn’t the same as emotional intelligence. I know lots of emotionally intelligent people who are more cerebral than they are empathetic. They can understand why people behave a certain way, and adapt, but at some level it does not reach them. Empathetic people are open to the world of hurt that exists on the periphery of the world of things; they know not only why people have needs, but also why it is important to meet those needs.

4) Media savvy. This might not seem like an attribute but it is. Look at Bill Gates then look at Steve Ballmer. ‘Nuff said. The media savvy leader has an advantage when he turns his attention to social good. Bono, no stranger to the media or financial success, has done tremendous good because he knows how to work the media to advance his cause. And some media, notably HuffPo and Mashable, are making it much easier for socially-aware leaders to do good. HuffPo’s HuffPost Education Section is a media hub for all things relevant to the country’s failing education system. The brain child of Brian Sirgutz, SVP of Social Impact at The Huffington Post/AOL, HuffPo’s Education Section came about after the media channel’s executive leadership watched the movie Waiting for Superman. It’s a content channel devoted to charting what’s wrong – and what could make it right – in our education system. It may not meet your criteria for doing good, but when you’re a media channel, access is your gift and your gold. Then there’s Mashable’s Social Good content channel. The editors of Mashable, led by Meghan Peters, Community Manager for Mashable, scan the Interwebs for news and evidence of individuals, leaders and organizations dedicating resources to social good. Sometimes all it takes is a light shining on a good act, or a horror, to alert society (and leaders) to the opportunity for social good. PS: My #TChat World of Work Community will be featuring both the talented Meghan and talented Brian this week as we celebrate via social media channels.

5) Selflessness. This is the tough one. Some entrepreneurs and successful (wealthy, not merely well-off) people are not acquainted with selflessness. They do things because their personal calculus tells them there’s a benefit. Maybe it’s the unreconstructed Catholic in me but by my reckoning, you haven’t done a social good if you expect to deduct it on your taxes. You do a social good when you have no expectation of repayment of any kind – we’re not buying indulgences here.
Non-profit, for-profit, individual or business leader – we can all learn a lesson during the festival of light, the season of charity and goodness. Open your hearts and minds before you open your wallets. Charity doesn’t count if you don’t understand the motivation.


Secrets of Leadership Success Introduction to the Leadership Success Series

By , About.com Guide


Key leadership success secrets set the great leaders apart from the so-so leaders in today’s organizations. Leadership style is learned from mentors, learned in seminars and exists as part of a person’s innate personal leadership skill set developed over years, and existing possibly, from birth. Nature or nurture is a question often asked about leadership. I answer, “yes,” because I believe the combination of natural leadership skills and nurture through leadership development defines your leadership style.

Working from personal experience and research, I will define the characteristics of leadership that make great leaders. I envision a series of interlinked articles, each of which focuses on one aspect of leadership.

Leadership differs from management and supervision although some people and organizations use the terms interchangeably. While the definitions of the terms differ, an individual may have the ability to provide all three.

    Supervision means that an individual is charged with providing direction and oversight for other employees. The successful supervisor provides recognition, appreciation, training and feedback to reporting employees.

    Management means to conduct the affairs of business, to have work under control and to provide direction, to guide other employees, to administer and organize work processes and systems, and to handle problems. Managers monitor and control work while helping a group of employees more successfully conduct their work than they would have without her. A manager’s job is often described as providing everything his reporting employees need to successfully accomplish their jobs. One famous quote from Warren Bennis, Ph.D. in On Becoming a Leader distinguishes management from leadership: “Managers are people who do things right, while leaders are people who do the right thing.”

    While a supervisor and a manager may also exhibit leadership skill or potential, true leaders are rare. This is because the combination of skills, personality and ambition essential to leadership are difficult to develop and exhibit. According to Don Clark, on his excellent leadership resource, Big Dog’s Leadership Page, Bernard “Bass’ theory of leadership states that there are three basic ways to explain how people become leaders. The first two explain the leadership development for a small number of people. These theories are:

    Some personality traits may lead people naturally into leadership roles. This is the Trait Theory.
    A crisis or important event may cause a person to rise to the occasion, which brings out extraordinary leadership qualities in an ordinary person. This is the Great Events Theory.
    People can choose to become leaders. People can learn leadership skills. This is the Transformational Leadership Theory.”

The Transformational Leadership Theory is the one I believe is correct for most leaders today. This belief forms the basis for my thinking about leadership.
The Key Leadership Trait

The first, and most important characteristic, of a leader is the decision to become a leader. At some point in time, leaders decide that they want to provide others with vision, direct the course of future events and inspire others to success. Leadership requires the individual to practice dominance and take charge. If you choose to become a leader, whether in your workplace, community or during an emergency, the discussion of these characteristics will help you formulate the appropriate mix of traits, skills and ambition. Successful leaders choose to lead. Unlike Keanu Reeves as Neo in 1999’s smash hit, The Matrix, you get to decide whether you are “the one.” The first characteristic of a leader is Choice – leaders choose to lead.
Characteristics of a Successful Leadership Style

Much is written about what makes successful leaders. I will focus on the characteristics, traits and actions that, I believe, are key.

    Choose to lead. (Current article – you are here.)
    Be the person others choose to follow.
    Provide vision for the future.
    Provide inspiration.
    Make other people feel important and appreciated.
    Live your values. Behave ethically.
    Set the pace through your expectations and example.
    Establish an environment of continuous improvement.
    Provide opportunities for people to grow, both personally and professionally.
    Care and act with compassion.

Mission Leadership: 4 Principles For Creating Corporate Commandos By Denis Wilson


Much of the post-Petraeus talk has centered on the crisis of leadership in the military’s top echelons. But on the ground, innovation doesn’t spring from “command and control,” but from mission leadership, something commando-turned-consultant Damian McKinney can teach you a thing or two about.

There seems to be a misconception that the military operates strictly by way of a rigid hierarchy, as if every last move on the frontline is orchestrated from atop the chain of command and those in the thick of it wait for the orders to trickle down. Not so–especially in the post-9/11 era of uncertainty.
In fact, when Damian McKinney entered the private sector after serving 18 years in British Royal Marines, the commando-turned-consultant found the business world to be more rigid than the military and that in many cases, corporate soldiers were not empowered to carry out their missions.

Shake-ups like the financial crisis only served as a reason for leadership to tighten their grip. In the military, this top-down management system is referred to as “command and control.” You might call it micromanagement.

But the nature of conflict has changed significantly since the trench warfare of World War I and II. To reflect this, McKinney says a massive cultural shift took place among NATO forces during the 1980s.

“Suddenly you’ve got this guy called a terrorist appearing. And a terrorist doesn’t operate like a conventional soldier,” says McKinney. “So you’ve got a situation where an 18- or 19-year-old is faced with this guy standing in front of him and he does not have time to go through the normal chain of command and ask for permission to do something. So we had to turn the system on its head.”

Turning the system on its head meant transitioning from command and control to mission command. With mission command, everyone is closely aligned to the mission, trained to make appropriate decisions, and given the trust and support from leadership to follow through. The mission dictates what is to be done, but the how is, to a greater extent, in the hands of those tasked with execution.

Upon entering the private sector, McKinney quickly saw an opportunity to bring mission command principles to corporate leadership. In 1999, he founded management consulting firm, McKinney Rogers, which counts among its clients Walmart, Bacardi, and HBO. And this year, he published The Commando Way: Better Business Execution. In a nutshell, McKinney thinks that commando thinking is ideally suited to meet an unstable, uncertain business world. And so as to avoid the proscriptive connotations of the term “mission command,” he calls it mission leadership. Here are its fundamentals.

Mission Leadership Requires A Deal 

McKinney recalls an anecdote from 1990 when a young major was explaining to a mixed audience of generals and young Marines why adopting mission command was a good idea. A general stood up and expressed his doubts that those with less experience and a lower rank could make the critical decisions that this empowerment calls for. “One of these young Marines stood up and said, ‘With all due respect, general, you’re asking me with this new doctrine to make these big decisions. How can I trust you to support me?’”

Empowerment is a two-way street. If leadership can provide a clear mission, reports should be trusted to carry out that mission with greater independence. “Essentially, it’s a deal. You’re gonna say, “Look, guys, I need to make sure we’re really clear that you all understand why we are doing what we’re doing, what we need you to do, and the boundaries within which you have to operate. You’re going to hold yourself accountable for that. But in exchange, I have to give you the freedom.”
And McKinney has all the confidence that given the opportunity to operate with more discretion, employees will thrive. “If you do that, it never ceases to amaze me how successful people can be and how innovative and creative they can be.” He suggests taking a lesson from the military, where everyone is expected to be able to operate at one or two levels above their rank, because if someone falls in battle, there’s no time to run off to management training while the enemy waits. “It has to happen there and then. So it allows you to be thinking and operating at a very different level. And so you get high levels of performance with smaller groups of people.”

Have a Vision for Success

When McKinney resigned from the military in 1997 and decided to go into business, he fully expected to leave the military mindset behind. But on morning one as a consultant, he was listening to a project presentation and at lunch asked someone to explain the “end state” of the project. “In other words, what does success look like and why are we doing it? The senior partner looked at me and said, ‘You’ve clearly been in the military too long. There is no such thing as an end state.’” McKinney was shocked: “For me it’s just an excuse–poor planning and poor understanding of what success looks like.’”

McKinney’s takeaway was that leaders should be less concerned with controlling every aspect of a project, and more concerned with outlining a clear outcome for a mission. “There’s a very simple human need here: Tell me where we’re going, tell me what part you’d like me to play–in other words, a plan–tell me the boundaries within which you want me to operate, and then just let me go.”
McKinney continues: “The one I use always because I just think it’s the best I’ve ever come across, is Kennedy’s 1961 vision. Where he stood and he essentially said, we’re going to put a man on the moon and return him safely by the end of the decade. It was powerful because it was really simple. You could listen to it and see a man standing on the moon and I can see him coming back. It was also time-bound. So I say to all these companies, everyone needs a destination. So the starting point is what is the vision for success.”

Also, Have a Purpose

What most companies call a mission statement is actually their purpose, says McKinney, and most of them are poor. A strong purpose is something you can always come back to. It’s the reason why a company exists. “Having a purpose is really important because it defines who you are,” says McKinney. “Your visions may change over the years, but your purpose should never change.”

McKinney has worked extensively with Bill Simon, president and CEO of Walmart U.S. In his work with Walmart, the company’s purpose consistently informs their strategy. Their purpose, “Saving people money so they can live better,” actually led to the company’s game-changing $4 generic drug program. “What we did is start off by saying, ‘What effect can we have on medical health care in the U.S. that actually drives costs down? Where do people pay a lot of money? They pay on their prescriptions, particularly old people. Well, then why don’t we try to drive the price of that dow
n?’ So we literally went from $20 to $4. A massive change. We did a whole vision and strategy over four days, we launched it a week later, we went right through the U.S. in four months, and we saved the average middle-aged patient $200 a month.”

Empowerment Leads to Innovation

The most basic tenet behind mission leadership that is once a mission is laid out to an individual or team with absolute clarity, they should be allowed to run with it. “An individual needs to know the what and the why–the mission, the boundaries within which they operate, and then frankly, you never tell somebody how to do their job. You should just let them go.”

McKinney cites Diageo, the maker of Johnnie Walker, Guinness, and Smirnoff, as one company that’s had success with mission leadership tactics. For example, as the tastes of vodka drinkers started to shift from Smirnoff to premium brands like Grey Goose, Diageo knew it needed to move into that space. At the time, Steve Wilson, was the global head of innovation with Diageo, (Wilson now serves as an advisor to the McKinney Rogers board), and he tasked his product development team to come up with a new brand.

The key to success was empowering the team to to be creative with their solution, says Wilson. “Empowerment where you actually tell people what you want them to do, but you don’t tell them how they’ve got to do it.” As a result, the company ended up with the very successful vodka brand, Ciroc, which is different from most vodkas in that it’s derived from grapes, rather than the more common grain alcohol.

Given the freedom, the team came up with the answer: “The answer was, ‘Let’s go do vodka that’s made from grapes.’ Why grapes? Quite simply, what is the most luxurious product that you can drink? It’s probably Champagne. So what about a vodka that’s made from Champagne grapes?”
Without telling the team exactly what to achieve, but sticking to the mission, Diageo ended up with a winning vodka. “You get a good mix of people,” says Wilson, “Tell them what it is you want them to do, tell them when you need it by, then you just give them the freedom. And they’ll make it happen.”

Step 1 of Forbes’ 10 Steps You Can Take To Become A Successful Young Leader At Work

1. Start preparing before you enter the workforce

Volunteer in social or nonprofit organizations or clubs where you can develop or hone your leadership skills, says Al Coleman, Jr., author of Secrets to Success: The Definitive Career Development Guide for New and First Generation Professionals. “Start with groups such as your church, synagogue, chamber of commerce, or a neighborhood or alumni association. These groups are full of opportunities to lead at the board, subcommittee, special projects or events level.”Do this while you’re still in college or before you enter the workforce. “If students have cultivated their leadership skills while in college or worked in the field previously through internships or other experiences, they have more confidence generally in their ability to handle situations,” adds Dr. Katharine Brooks, director of Liberal Arts Career Services at The University of Texas at Austin and author of You Majored in What? Mapping Your Path from Chaos to Career.