10. Priorities are not what people say they are. They are what the organization actually does.

If something is a meaningful priority the following is true:

  • Results are the focus
  • Someone is accountable
  • Resources are made available to achieve the results

9. Insularity breeds incompetence. 

Successful companies are open and agnostic. They are great at spotting ideas and finding uses for them whether they come from a front-line employee or a Wharton professor.

8. If you are solving the same problems repeatedly, you are the problem.

If you keep working around technology, processes or people that don’t work you don’t have a technology, process or people problem. You lack the courage to do what needs to be done.

7. Inward focus is a leading indicator of poor performance.

Organizations that spend the majority of their time on internal matters are less successful than those that are customer focused. Home Depot, under Bob Nardelli, took its eye off the ball and lost value even while improving processes. This was predictable. I should know, I predicted it in a letter to Bob.

6. Great leaders don’t stick their heads in the sand.

Great leaders listen. They are voracious consumers of ideas, news, insights and are frequently persons with broad interests and talents. The most successful people do not mock intelligence, knowledge or excellence. They seek it out.

5. Results are not an excuse.

Great leaders focus on creating the right environment to generate good results. They don’t ignore unflattering feedback because they are doing well.

4. Most customer surveys are a waste.

Surveys look cheap because they are. Listening to customer feedback, without controlling the focus? Priceless.

3. Legal ownership and psychological ownership are two different things.  

No matter how large the check, entrepreneurs won’t act like other employees. Your options? Leave them alone to continue running the business, get comfortable with leading them differently, or move them out.

2. Even smart people will sacrifice results for shiny methods.

SAP, Change Management, Big Data, training and more training. The question isn’t are these things good or bad. The question is, how will you be better off because of it?

1. Leadership is the most important asset.

The greatest losses, by far, come from tolerating poor performance rather admit to a bad decision.