Time to read: 3 minutes.
There’s not a day goes by that I don’t use something I learned through my 20+ years working in one of the Perot companies. Over the coming weeks I thought I would list a few of my favorites. I carry these at the front of my mind and try to operate with them in my personal and professional life.
This week I have pondered on this lesson: Feed the troops first (hopefully the troops are already fed after Thanksgiving!)
That seems like such a simple concept. It’s amazing to me how many companies and leaders do not do this. When it comes time to hand out bonuses and reward performance, you should always ensure that your front line workers or troops, as Ross would refer to them, are fed first. The executive leader should not be getting bonuses when there’s not enough money to hand around to the entire company.
This concept was also outlined in a book that Mr. Perot would hand out regularly: Leadership Principles of Attila the Hun. This might seem like a strange person to look to for leadership lessons, but surprisingly, there are a lot of intentional leadership qualities he followed which made him such a successful leader of men.
In Wess Roberts' book, says Perot, "Attila reminds you that a leader lives in the field with his troops. You've got to be the first guy to take the bullet; and you can't lead anybody unless your people trust and respect you.”
If your leader comes across as lofty and too good for your job, wouldn’t you have a bit more trouble respecting them? As opposed to someone who shows a genuine interest in your work and how you support the company as a whole, even if they aren’t always the one down and dirty doing the work.
So just remember, it never hurts to share a meal with your troops, to let them eat first. That is one part of earning the respect of those around you, both above and below.