The more I get to know people, the more I like my dog – Frederick the Great
Are you focused on your people skills? How important is it to you? One of the most important leadership skills that you will ever develop is your people skills. Without it, you are at a distinct disadvantage.
In the 1950s, marketing whiz Stanley Arnold was working at Young & Rubicam, where he was asked to come up with a marketing campaign for Remington Rand. The company was among the most conservative in America. Its chairman at the time was retired General Douglas MacArthur. Intimidated at first by a company that was so much a part of America, Arnold also found in that phrase the first inspiration for a campaign. After thinking about it, he went to the New York offices of Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner and Beane, and placed the ultimate odd-lot order:
“I want to purchase,” he told the broker, “one share of every single stock listed on the New York Stock Exchange.” After a vice president tried to talk him out of it, the order was finally placed. It came to more than $42,000 for one share in each of the 1098 companies listed on the Big Board at the time. Arnold now took his diversified portfolio into a meeting of Remington Rand’s board of directors, where he argued passionately for a sweepstakes campaign with the top prize called A Share in America. The conservative old gentlemen shifted around in their seats and discussed the idea for a while. “But Mr. Arnold,” said one, “we are not in the securities business.” Another said, “We are in the shaver business.”
“I agree that you are not in the securities business,” said Arnold, “but I think you also ought to realize that you are not in the shaver business either. You are in the people business.” The company bought the idea.
This example is a clear reminder that while there are many things that we consider important; we can’t lose sight of the most important thing—people! It’s as you develop, nurture, and grow your people that you begin to grow in the other areas that are important to you as well.
Wise leaders model good people skills. Are you a people-centered leader?
© 2012 Doug Dickerson
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