I just read the cover story of the September 27th issue of Fortune Magazine about Mike Duke, CEO of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. First of all, I was glad that Mike was spotlighted in the manner in which he was. I know him personally through various interactions at Wal-Mart when he was leading the logistics division and I was leading Resources for Living; and through interactions in our community and through our church where we attend together, and where he is most frequently seen serving as a “door greeter” welcoming people to the worship services. Secondly, I was impressed with Brian O’Keefe, the editor of the story, who did an exceptional job of highlighting the qualities and characteristics of what it takes to be an Exceptional Leader of such a one-of-a-kind company. Qualities like discipline, work ethic, focus, determination, humility, attention to details, capacity for making tough decisions about the direction of the company and about getting the right people in the right place. If you haven’t already done so, I would encourage you to read the article with pen in hand, and identify the qualities of exceptional leadership demonstrated by Mike. If you don’t have a copy close by, just click on the title of this blog and it will link you to the article on Fortune’s site.
The article also mentioned a few things that may be easy to pass over too quickly, things that are crucial to Mike’s capacity for exceptional leadership. Mike grew up in a small community in Georgia where a great deal of life was centered around his small church, his family and his community. I believe these are a few of the things that have helped form his personal faith, his core values and his commitment to the values-based culture that continues to permeate Wal-Mart today.
I have a tremendous appreciation for Wal-Mart. I have enjoyed working with them directly, supporting their leaders and Associates through Resources for Living, and providing leadership and team development programs for various groups through my work with the Soderquist Center for Leadership and Ethics. They have been a part of my life and livelihood for over 20 years. I cannot help but believe that the company is in good hands to continue to add value to the lives of its nearly 3 Million employees, and to the hundreds of millions of shoppers who will benefit from them every year. I believe I can confidently say that Sam would be proud.