My 3 Favorite Lessons in Leadership from Andy Grove

Andy Grove, the former CEO of Intel and the 1997 Time Man of the Year, passed away in March of this year. Grove, who survived the Holocaust and went on to build Intel into the historic powerhouse it is today, was truly a force to be reckoned with. He wasn’t just an executive – he was also an innovator, a mentor, and a thought leader in the field of leadership. I’ve been a fan of his since I read two of his most impactful books, 1983’s High Output Management and 1996’s Only the Paranoid Survive: How to Exploit the Crisis Points That Challenge Every Company and Career, and I’ve applied many of his leadership strategies to the way I’ve managed The Suburban Collection over the years. So, then, I thought it would only be fair to start this blog off with a post that outlines my 3 favorite lessons in leadership from Grove’s body of work. I hope they are as meaningful to you as they’ve been to me.

David T. Fischer

Andy Grove’s lessons in leadership are just as relevant now as they ever were.

1) Pretend You Are Replacing Yourself: In Only the Paranoid Survive, Grove wrote that, “If existing management wants to keep their jobs when the basics of the business are undergoing profound change, they must adopt an outsider’s intellectual objectivity.” This line always stayed with me, mostly because of how true it is. As the CEO of a company, it’s imperative that you stay introspective; you must examine your own performance and behavior with the same objectivity you use to evaluate your employees, and you cannot let your pride get in the way of admitting your shortcomings, or you’ll never be able to fix them or adapt to change.

2) Don’t Let Small Problems Develop Into Big Ones: Grove was a strong proponent of addressing problems when they’re still small so that they don’t have a chance to grow into big ones. As a leader, it is your responsibility to facilitate problem-solving at your company, and that means creating a work environment for your employees that allows for open and frank communication about what is working and what isn’t. If your employees know that they can escalate problems without the fear of being scolded or punished, then you’ve succeeded in creating a company culture that fosters collaboration and excels at problem-solving, which should always be your goal.

3) Be Comfortable With Change: The best leaders are the ones who make an effort to constantly develop new skills and teach themselves new information about their industry and how to manage a changing workforce. Grove described this behavior as “exposing ourselves to the winds of change,” and he strongly emphasized the importance of managers being able to adapt as necessary without resistance or resentment. Another one of his great quotes, “The person who is the star of one era is often the last one to adapt to change,” drives home the point that just because you’ve been successful in the past does not mean you will be successful in the future. In order to stay competitive and valuable to your company, you must embrace change and understand that it is inevitable and beneficial for both you and your business.

These lessons in leadership have been invaluable for me over the years, and I know I speak for many people when I say that Grove’s passing is a huge loss for the field of management.

He was genuinely inspirational, and I will always remember him as someone who truly led by example.


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