The Benevolent Competitor
Some leaders motivate with fear. Their employees hustle to avoid wrath or pink slips. Others motivate with a near-parental love, and their employees will do anything to avoid their displeasure. But Brad Anderson, the 36-year veteran of a Minnesota-based electronics retail operation that became the world’s best-known electronic superstore, is known as a leader who motivates with an earnest curiosity.
Employees, manufacturers and industry analysts all come away from interactions with Anderson feeling like he good-naturedly mined them for information, from his genuine “How are you?” to his astute “What are you learning?”
“This is a guy who started as a salesman and sales manager and learned this enormous amount to become a CEO,” said management services consultant Robert Heiblim of Blue Salve. “His mind is always, always open.”
Learning the Art of Sales
Anderson’s lifelong thirst for new ideas along with a personality streak he calls “irrationally competitive” were an effective combo at Best Buy, where profits grew annually at double-digit rates under his leadership. Since taking over as CEO in 2001, Anderson not only expanded store locations worldwide, he implemented some of the retail industry’s strongest business strategies. He oversaw the construction of an interactive business culture where his employees (a large majority of them only in their 20s) could contribute ideas for profitability and customer service via a company-wide wiki and an internal social network called Blue Shirt Nation.