Maverick Leadership/Ricardo Semler – I

Imagine a company where managers set their own salaries! Middle management utopia, who wouldn’t like to be here? But this is also a company where if you put your salary too high, and people don’t put you on the list as someone they need for the next six months, you’re in more trouble than you would be at General Motors”.

Ricardo Semler is my idea of a great leader. In the context of modern entrepreneurship, the task of a CEO is to get customers, cut costs and convey value to shareholders. A leader CEO however is one who doesn’t get so obsessed with these ends that he glances over what still remain the fundamentals of any business-trust and relationships. Semler built an organisation on trust. Or did he?

I think what he did by initiating policies based on trust, and I will not go into them here, was to create more leaders. In fact, if every SEMCO employee is welcome to a board meeting (of course, she has to be one of the first two to arrive at the door!), Semler created an organization where everybody potentially can influence the direction the organization takes. That is what leadership is all about – creating more leaders.