My name is Bill Cummings, and I’ll be with you on these pages every Sunday from now on.
Let me tell you a little bit about myself.
I’m a Leadership Guru. I’ve been studying leadership since 1960. Back then, I couldn’t go to Mercer and get my degree in leadership; they didn’t have the courses they have now. I had to learn it from actual Leaders. Here were some of mine:
1. Pope John XXIII.
I spent two years in the Vatican with this man and learned my first lesson in leadership: Listening. Pope John knew how to listen -- even in disagreements. I watched him with Cardinal Ottaviani and Cardinal Siri, two men who hated everything the Pope wanted to do. But he listened to them and communicated with them -- all during his short term as Pope.
He wanted to “up-grade” the Catholic Church; he called it: “Aggiornamento!” He wanted to get rid of the “Mortal Sins” of eating meat on Friday, missing Mass on Sunday, practicing birth control and many more. But they fought him every step of the way. And yet he listened. He never shut them out. I wish the Republicans and the Democrats would do that today.
2. Bechtel Corporation President Steve Bechtel Jr.
Steve hired me in San Francisco to head up his new department of Organization Development, and he taught me how to delegate. We had projects all over the world, and we had to delegate to our on-site managers, and trust that they would “get it done.” Delegation is so hard to do. We all think: “I know how to do this better than anyone else” (and maybe it’s true) but many times I had to: “give it up, step back and trust.” Leaders have to do this every day. Don’t you wish all of our company “micromanagers” would learn this lesson?
3. Charter Medical President Bill Fickling.
When Bill hired me as his vice president back in 1975, he taught me loyalty. He was loyal to us and he expected us to be loyal to him and to the company. He kept his part right up to the end. He insisted that we were well-paid and treated with respect. After he became one of the largest employers in Macon, he could have moved his headquarters to Atlanta, and many consultants urged him to do so, but he was loyal to Macon. He stayed here. However, several of his top executives plotted against him and eventually destroyed everything he had created. Today, loyalty is a fading fad, and many companies and many employees are loyal only to themselves. I’ll talk about that on these pages. A lot.
4. Leaders in my client companies.
In 1986, I founded my own leadership consulting firm, and I have been working with some of the finest leaders in our country, many of them right here in Middle Georgia. I’m tempted to list their names (because you would know them all) but I know I’d leave someone out. These are the men and women whose courage and tenacity have helped us through these past four years of recession, and whose enthusiastic vision is pointing the way to an exciting future. I’ll share with you their leadership skills that you can apply at home, at church, at work and in your clubs.
I hope you’ll join me every Sunday to talk about leadership: Good leadership and bad leadership. You’ll find -- as I did -- that leadership is a lot like love: we never quite learn it all.
Dr. Bill Cummings is the CEO of Cummings Consolidated Corporation and Cummings Management Consultants. His website is digitallydrc.com.