Former Secretary of Education William J. Bennett, one of the guiding lights in the struggle to
restore moral and ethical values in our society, tells this fascinating personal story. His wife, Elayne, who is a former teacher, urged him to visit schools and teach classes. "While we were still courting, she had seen me teach high school classes in Portland, Maine. Later, when I became Education Secretary, she told me, 'You're a good teacher and people will take you more seriously if they see you doing what you're talking about. In addition to talking about education, why don't you go out and show people you can teach somebody something?'" Bennett resisted and said, "I don't do retail now, I do wholesale." At that point Elayne persisted and said, "If you do some retail you'll do better wholesale." Good thinking.
What she was saying is as old as time itself. She was saying that by example he would be
demonstrating the importance of and giving dignity to the teachers and the profession of
teaching. Elayne was also saying that the real heroes of life are "down in the trenches," doing
the job and encouraging others to do the same.
That thought carries a message for every business executive. If executives are knowledgeable
about every phase of their business, they will have a greater appreciation for what the rest of
their staff is doing. Obviously, the CEO of a Fortune 500 Company, or even a moderately sized
company, cannot know everything about every operation. However, they should regularly
explore what happens in each department and talk with the people doing the jobs. Not only will
this interest bring them closer to their people, but the knowledge they will acquire will help them
to more effectively lead the company. Take these steps and I'll SEE YOU AT THE TOP!