Leadership Tips from Michael Phelps & Bill McDermott

David Maestas | Arizona State University Collegiate DECA

Ever wondered what tips an award-winning Olympian and the CEO of a multinational corporation would give about leadership? Well, wonder no longer!

Michael Phelps

Arizona State University hosted a program with Michael Phelps and Bill McDermott called, “The Winning Move.”

Bill McDermott

Both Phelps and McDermott talked about their life struggles and the keys to being a successful leader.

Here are three tips from two pros!

1. A leader needs to show a clear, purpose led vision.

A leader owes their people a good strategy. You may be the best leader in the world, but without a clear vision or direction, you’ve got all day to get nowhere. So, what’s the best way to have a clear-cut strategy? Write down your goals!

Both Phelps and McDermott repeatedly mentioned that writing your goals is the best way to finish them. Phelps’ number one tip? Write them down in a place that you will see every single day. Although you may have one “Master Goal,” start small. Create little goals that will stack up to reach the big goal.

2. The best leaders are the best listeners.

When discussing listening, Phelps pointed out that, “It’s ok to ask a question. It’s ok to ask for help.” You want to surround yourself with people with good ideas who will help you reach your goal. McDermott explained that, as a leader, you will not be good at everything you do. However, it’s your job to surround yourself with people who excel at the things you might not do so well in.

When working in a company or even a school organization like DECA, you want to tap into the human aspect of your organization; “everyone should feel that they have a piece of the real estate.” When asked how he made his company so successful, McDermott said, “80% of what I do is people. The soft stuff is the real stuff.”

3. Differentiate yourself from the competition.

As the CEO of SAP, McDermott has had plenty of experience with the hiring process. When asked about what he looks for when hiring someone, the answer was that he “looks for someone who not only has a dream, but is willing to do the details.” McDermott looks for someone who has passion, a drive, an intuitive sense of who they are, and who they want to become. As a leader, you want to exemplify these, and surround yourself with like-minded individuals.

In Phelps’ case, he set himself apart from the competition by doing what nobody else was doing, practicing 365 days a year, no matter what. To be a good leader, you need to use your passion and motivation for success to differentiate yourself from others who might not be as dedicated as you. Your employer/teacher/mentor/DECA advisor will notice the difference.

Being a good leader takes practice and patience. Hopefully you will benefit from this advice which came straight from two of the best leaders in the country. All of us at Collegiate DECA at ASU will work to implement these tips into our daily lives.

No matter what kind of organization or group you belong to, these tips can help you out, and remember this:

“The true measure of a leader is not what they take from the world, but what they give it.” – Bill McDermott

This article was written by Arizona State University Collegiate DECA Vice President of Marketing, David Maestas. You can follow ASU Collegiate DECA on Twitter @asudeca.

Categories: Chapter Development, Chapter Resources, Leadership

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