Guest Blog by Garry Ridge, President of WD-40

We All Have Something Significant Yet To Do!!

I’ve always had a strong thirst for knowledge, especially when it comes to methods for creating a successful work environment. For me, the value of learning from my triumphs and tribulations is translated into my ability to share what I’ve experienced with others, empowering them to become stronger leaders. Serving as the head of a company and family simultaneously can add extra challenges and difficulties, reinforcing the necessity of refining our skills to combat challenges and achieve success. Here is my advice for leaders.

• Do what you say you’re going to do. Organizations don’t pay much attention to what we say; organizations pay intense attention to what we do and the examples we set, particularly if the actions are inconsistent with the words. Any inconsistency is corrosive. I hear what you say; I read what you write; I believe what you do.

• Be competent and act with integrity. (I mean integrity in the broadest sense of the word to include team play and respect shown to subordinates.)

• Have high self-esteem/self-worth. Having a strong sense of self-worth allows leaders to accept failures and criticism without being so egotistical and hubristic that they are not open to others’ opinions. I’ve heard it said that good leaders’ levels of self-confidence are slightly higher than what is justified by the facts, but that’s what keeps them confident in adverse situations.

• Move forward. Good leaders are not afraid to act with a sense of urgency. They pay attention to the details (not by micromanaging but by taking the occasional deep dive to test what they’re hearing).

• Good judgment comes from healthy learning moments. Leaders exercise good judgment, which is usually a result of learning from mistakes. Successes normally don’t bring with them the introspection that mistakes do. Good judgment comes from experience—good and bad.

• Be connected, aware, and always tuned in. Leaders are particularly tuned in to the people around them and to subtle behavioral clues. They can read a room well, listen well, and have a high EQ! (This is akin to a good sixth sense about how to act in foreign cultures.)

• Value the gift of contrarians and resistors. Good leaders don’t like yes men and sycophants. They are not afraid of surrounding themselves with strong people.

• Be a leader of hope. Leaders of hope have a philosophy of “this too will pass”. They maintain their people’s passion, exercise patience against panic, and cultivate a sense of calm.

• Involve the people. The best ideas and greatest support will come when people are involved and contributing. In the end, every decision will be made by you, the leader, and an informed decision means keeping your team involved.

• Always stay in servant leadership mode. Remember leaders are there to serve: the shepherd is there on behalf of the sheep, not the other way around.

• Practice these good leadership traits with modesty—note that when carried to excess, these qualities can be fatal to your role as leader.

May you always find new roads to travel, new horizons to explore, and new dreams to call your own. Life is about memories, so as a leader make new positive memories. Lastly, my final reflection on being a leader is to believe in yourself, never give up and take one day at a time.


About csuffamilybusiness

In 1995 Cal State Fullerton, the third largest business school in the nation, formed the Center for Family Business to assist family businesses in recognizing their common problems and in finding solutions to the unique issues that confront them. The Center's mission is to use education to help family businesses in our region grow and prosper and to keep harmony in the family.
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One Response to Guest Blog by Garry Ridge, President of WD-40

  1. Mike says:

    Garry’s “rules of good leadership” are right on. They obviously show his growing into leadership and carrying out his experiences and beliefs. Good for him, and good for the folks who work for him.

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