I’m reading an amazing book on leadership, given me by my friend, Kristin Kern, whose company, Kernacopia, Ltd. did the cover design. It’s entitled, Making Your Company Human: Inspiring Others to Reach Their Potential.
Written by a hugely successful former CEO, Le Herron (with Sherry Christie), it’s truly a roadmap on why/how Go-Giver-type leaders finish first; how they cultivate an environment of loyal, excited team members and similarly motivated customers.
However, it’s more than just a book on leadership by a man who was definitely the kind of “Level Five Leader” that Jim Collins discussed in his excellent book, Good to Great. It’s also a book on sales and marketing. No, that’s not the focus, but the lessons in that area are terrific, as well.
Le Herron was, most notably, CEO (1965-1983) of the very profitable O.M. Scott & Sons (now The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company), the national manufacturer and marketer of lawn care products. Though long retired, he wrote this book as an answer to the current climate of distrust between business leaders and their employees. He opines on the reasons for that distrust in no uncertain terms, feeling they are well-deserved.
Mr. Herron was a leader who focused on a consistent message (and effectively communicating that message) to both his associates and his customers and always maintaining the company’s guiding principles.
The Dedication he made at the front of the book sums up his feelings on leadership:
“When I was a brand-new second lieutenant in the Army Corps of Engineers during World War II, I was out with troops in the field on a training mission. It had been a hard day, and when the mess line was ready, I went over to eat. But before I could be served, an old sergeant took me aside.
“’Lieutenant,’ he said, ‘when your men have been fed, if there’s any food left, then you will eat.’ And while he was at it he added, ‘And after all your troops have been bedded down, if there’s a place for you to lie down, then you will sleep.’
“This book is dedicated to that sergeant, who in two minutes taught me a lesson about leadership that has been at the center of my beliefs ever since.”
Over the next few posts, we’ll learn some additional lessons from the book.
I don’t know Mr. Herron personally. I don’t know if Kristin knows him. However, while I’m only halfway through the book, he’s fast becoming one of my heroes. I checked out the book on Amazon.com. Amazingly, few people even seem to know about it.
And, at nearly 90 years of age, I’m sure he’s not looking to go out and actively promote it. I’d sure like to see to see it become popular through word-of-mouth (or, word of Internet) however, and take on a life of its own.