Last month, Fortune magazine ranked the top 12 business innovators of our time – “founders who turned concepts into companies and changed the face of business.”  It was an unsurprising list dominated by the visionary leaders of what are now well-known enterprises.  What I found most interesting was a theme.

Microsoft’s Bill Gates, No. 2 on the list (behind Apple’s Steve Jobs), said his best business decisions came down to picking good people and relying on them.

No. 4 Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, credited “a bunch of smart people” that continually take his ideas and improve them.

No. 9 Herb Kelleher of Southwest Airlines has created “a culture that respected the people he carefully hired.”  He said, “front line personnel can either make you or break you. . . Start with employees and the rest follows from that.”

No. 10 Narayana Murthy of the Indian company Infosys said an emerging organization “must coalesce around a team of people with an enduring value system.”

Time and again, the secret sauce is the people.  Not policy or procedures or products.  People.

Posted in: Leadership


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