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A Conversation with Bill Strickland, CEO of Manchester Bidwell Corportation

September 27, 2011

Linkage’s Senior Vice President Rich Rosier sat down with Bill Strickland, President and CEO of Manchester Bidwell Corporation and its subsidiaries at the 2010 Global Institute for Leadership Development (GILD) in Palm Desert. Here is their conversation…

Bill, as you think back on you storied career as a leader, how would you say you have evolved as a leader?

I think primarily as a leader I have evolved by paying a lot more attention to the people that I work with as opposed to seeing myself as the single-minded, charismatic leader who is a vision in and of himself.  I think that I have evolved my leadership style by reflecting on the fact that the best leaders are a function of the people that they have around them, so that by listening to my folks, by responding to a lot of their inquiries, by being able to reduce in my style their values and their views, I think I have become a much more productive leader and therefore a more responsive leader.

As you think forward into the future, how do you expect your leadership to continue to evolve?

Gandhi once said, “To lead the people, walk behind them.”  I think there is a lot of truth to that description.  As we evolve our strategy and our thinking, and as I evolve as the leader, I am now even more committed to transferring a lot of the intellectual ideas and emotional ideas I have to others who will represent the brand, represent the philosophy, and to some extent I will be living through them and their implementation of my ideas worldwide someday.

What advice would you give emerging and senior leaders as to how they might go about strengthening their leadership?

Continue to talk to your people on a regular basis.  Do not allow the trappings of the office “leader” to separate you from the very people with whom you draw sustenance.  You may not be aware that you draw sustenance from them, but it is absolutely essential that you maintain a direct linkage and a direct connection regularly on the people that are associated with you, both now and moving forward.  If you allow yourself to become enamored exclusively with your own ideas and your own vision, my prediction is you will not be as successful as you could be.

What would you say to the leader who has a vision, but they are scared for whatever reason to pursue it?  What advice would you give that person?

Get out of the leadership role!  The leaders are the people who execute, not just arrive on the scene with an idea.  The measure of a leader is the ability to execute the idea.  I know a hundred people who have great ideas but cannot implement them.  The world only remembers the people who get off the canvas, not the ones who remain down there.  And so my definition of leadership is your ability to sustain, implement your vision over a protracted period of time so that fear becomes an adjective that is not associated with your style and your brand.

Great.  Thank you so much.

Join Rich and the Linkage team at GILD in Palm Desert, California, October 9-14th. To learn more, call 781-402-5555.

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