In the late spring of 1985, Elayne Bennett, wife of William J. Bennett, then Secretary of State, urged her husband to visit schools and teach classes. "While we were still courting, she had seen me teach high school classes in Portland, Maine," explained Bennett. "When I became Education Secretary, she told me, 'You're a good teacher and people will take you more seriously if they see you doing what you're talking about. In addition to talking about education, why don't you go out and show people you can teach somebody something?'" Bennett resisted and said, "I don't do retail now, I do wholesale." At that point Elayne persisted and said, "If you do some retail you'll do better wholesale." Good thinking.
...Elayne was saying that by example her husband could demonstrate the importance of...the teaching profession. Elayne was also saying that the real heroes of life are "down in the trenches," doing the job and encouraging others to do the same. That thought carries a message for every business executive. If executives are knowledgeable about every phase of their business, they will have a greater appreciation for what the rest of their staff is doing. Obviously, the CEO of a Fortune 500 Company, or even a moderately sized company, cannot know everything about every operation. However, they should regularly explore what happens in each department and talk with the people doing the jobs. Not only will this interest bring them closer to their people, but the knowledge they will acquire will help them to more effectively lead the company. Take these steps and I'll SEE YOU AT THE TOP!
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