Wal-Mart’s Vice Chairman On Leadership

There was a very interesting interview with Eduardo Castro-Wright, vice chairman of Wal-Mart Stores, in the New York Times. Here are some of his comments that I found particularly insightful:

Leadership is about trust. It’s about being able to get people to go to places they never thought they could go… I think that business schools could do more to prepare kids to deal with the often more difficult side of business management and leadership.

My take: Castro-Wright makes a strong case for the 6 new management imperatives that I’ve introduced on this blog.  

I really like simplicity. At the end of the day, retailing – but you could apply this to many other businesses – is not as complicated as we would like to make it.. We have a very clear view of what we do for consumers around the world. And we can describe our complete strategy in 10 words. And that makes it very easy to get everybody energized and aligned.

My take: Companies often develop complicated strategies that look good on paper, but fall apart because people across the organization don’t understand them, and therefore can’t execute them. Simplicity can be very powerful.

I think the best source of strategy is your customer and the people who work for you… I walk around the store and approach customers and ask them if they have any recommendations for us… and talk to associates and ask them questions about their jobs. I ask them about their leadership in the store… Almost always, you get enormous insight from those who spend their days taking care of customers.

My take: Firms need to systematically listen to the voice of the customer; and one of the great sources of insight is front-line employees. There are also enormous implications to company culture when a vice chairman wanders around stores showing interest in customer and employee feedback.

The bottom line: Trust, simplicity, and voice of the customer are a powerful combination.

Written by 

I am an experience management transformist, helping organizations improve business results by engaging the hearts and minds of their customers, employees, and partners. My "job" is Head of the Qualtrics XM Institute. The Institute is still being established, but our goal is to help organizations around the world thrive by mastering Experience Management (XM). As part of this focus, I examine strategy, culture, interaction design, customer service, branding and leadership practices. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. Prior to joining Qualtrics, I was managing partner of Temkin Group (leading CX research, advisory, and training firm), co-founder and chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA.org), and a VP at Forrester Research. I'm a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Check out my LinkedIn profile: www.linkedin.com/in/brucetemkin

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