Lesson 5: "Never neglect details. When everyone's mind is dulled or distracted, the leader must be doubly vigilant."
Strategy equals execution. All the great ideas and visions in the world are worthless if they can't
be implemented rapidly and efficiently. Good leaders delegate and empower others liberally, but they pay attention to details, every day. (Think about supreme athletic coaches like Jimmy Johnson, Pat Riley and Tony La Russa). Bad ones, even those who fancy themselves as progressive "visionaries," think they're somehow "above" operational details. Paradoxically, good leaders understand something else: an obsessive routine in carrying out the details begets conformity and complacency, which in turn dulls everyone's mind. That is why even as they pay attention to details, they continually encourage people to challenge the process. They implicitly understand the sentiment of CEO leaders like Quad Graphics's Harry Quadracchi, Oticon's Lars Koline and the late Bill McGowan of MCI, who all independently asserted that the job of a leader is not to be the chief organizer, but the chief dis-organizer.