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Arthur Blank is the co-founder of The Home Depot, which has more than 400,000 employees and a market cap of over $300 billion. Arthur was named one of the world’s 100 greatest living business minds by Forbes in 2017.

Now retired from Home Depot, Arthur owns the Atlanta Falcons NFL team and the Atlanta United MLS team. His family businesses also include the nationwide PGA Tour Superstore, three ranches in Montana, and Mercedes Benz stadium.

Arthur is a leader who believes in and practices leading by example.

When I spoke with Arthur (you can listen to the full discussion here) he told me a fascinating story during the early days of The Home Depot.

They had a lot of products coming in which arrived in boxes with packing materials and so they ended up with a lot of corrugated materials. They were supposed to have compactors to break the boxes and other materials down to keep the space clear, but the delivery of the compactors was delayed and they didn’t get them until 2 or 3 weeks after they opened.

At one point there was so much material that there wasn’t any room to receive any more merchandise and everyone was working to get it cleared out. Arthur rolled up his sleeves and started working on clearing it all up. In fact, he ended up staying in the store for 24 hours cleaning up so they could have room to accept more boxes.

Another employee saw Arthur working nonstop and went to the store manager and said…

“You know, there’s this nut in the back. He’s been here for 24 hours, he hasn’t left, he’s compacting all this stuff so we can get more merchandise up on the shelves. I don’t know who he is, but you ought to consider him for a promotion sometime.”

The manager had to let the employee know that Arthur was one of the founders.

What most leaders get wrong today

Arthur told me that successful leaders are ones that have a set of values and stick to them. They consistently lead based on those values–they are able to live those values out and articulate them to others.

The problem, Arthur says, is that a lot of leaders today just want to send out a memo every other day reminding employees about the company values, yet they themselves don’t live them out. In order to be a great leader you have to not just talk the talk, you have to walk the talk as well. You have to lead by example, roll your sleeves up and set the pace for the organization.

Arthur also says leaders need to walk in the footsteps of their frontline employees. Don’t just read about how things are going, don’t just sit in your office passing down commands and reading reports.

Get out and interact with everyone.

You can listen to my full conversations with Arthur here.

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