3 Leadership Lessons from Mike Duke

leadership-lessonsMike Duke was the fourth CEO of Walmart, serving from 2009 to 2013. When you lead a company of such a massive scope, it’s extremely important that you understand how to be an effective leader. Mr. Duke regularly speaks with other business owners about leadership tactics, and given his standing in the business world, his advice is very relevant for anyone who manages a business.

In order of increasing importance, Mr. Duke said that leadership is all about the following:

  • Being an agent of change. Sam Walton was not afraid of change – it’s how he revolutionized the retail industry. Walton’s early stores were failures, but he learned through these failures to understand what new methods of building a retail empire would work. This allowed him to create the Supercenter.
  • The people. As CEO, David Glass told Lee Scott that although he was doing a great job leading Logistics, he couldn’t be promoted without a successor. Scott invested in recruitment and development, which led to the hiring of Mr. Duke. 90 days later, Glass called and asked Mr. Duke to lead Logistics. This shows the importance of not only hiring good people, but mentoring them and invest in growing them as people and employees.
  • Trust. Mr. Duke was impacted by a visit from a Walmart driver during which a driver criticized a manager for having no integrity and mentioned in incident of disrespect on the manager’s part. That incident had occurred two years previously. To Duke, this showed how a single misstep without an apology and a willingness to accept the consequences of one’s actions can truly damage employee trust.

These three facets of leadership helped Mr. Duke successfully manage one of the world’s largest companies, and they’re applicable for any size business.


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