Leadership Lessons From Boone Pickens

Driving through University Park on my way to our Dallas, Texas offices, I can’t help but think of Boone Pickens. He lives in the area and his new company, BP Capital, is headquartered here right off Preston Road. Boone epitomizes the word leadership.

Leadership Lessons from Boone PIckens

An engineer who works for us and whom we later made a partner, once worked at Boone’s energy firm, Mesa Petroleum, now known as Pioneer Resources. On the first day of orientation you were given Boone’s latest book and expected to finish it. I guess I would have been a standout; I’ve read all of his books.

What appeals to me about Boone Pickens is his leadership skills. Once a man who was living in his car, shaving in gas station restrooms, and struggling to survive; he has time and time again risen to the top. Nowadays he leaves his mansion in University Park for his plush office. At the end of the day, he climbs aboard his private jet and sets off to his massive ranch. The next morning he might fly to the, so aptly named, Boone Pickens Stadium to watch his beloved Oklahoma State Cowboys.

The secret sauce, if you will, to Mr. Pickens’ success is his leadership skills. There’s a huge difference between leadership and management. Management does just that; they manage the situation. Leadership creates vision, fosters culture, and sets examples. I’ve learned a great deal about leadership from Boone.

Communication is Key – Creating a vision is one thing, but communicating that vision and the goals that must be achieved to reach it, is another ball game. George W. Bush rarely performed any tasks when running the Texas Rangers Baseball team. Instead, he talked to everyone, everyday. That was the key to their incredible growth.

Lead By Example – You will emulate those you most admire and so will your employees. If you’re a very good leader, they’re going to look up to you. As such, they’ll do everything you do. You must set the example of what a model employee is. Show up on time, take care of yourself, and work hard.

Demand Much, Reward Greatly – I had a football coach who transformed our offensive line in one year. He was the toughest coach I’d ever had in 11 years of football. But when we did well, he was the first on the field for a chest bump. He demanded much of us, but he rewarded us well.

Provide the Best Resources You Can – The United States Military has long been the world’s premiere super power. One of the reasons, we have the best weapons and we use them well. Give your people the upper hand by providing the best resources and the training to use them.

Loyalty is a Two-Way Street – Do your employees show up day after day and work their tail off for you? You should do the same. I remember one instance when a boss got on to me for two of my team members being eight minutes late. I told him they’d be there within 15 minutes of start time. When told to reprimand them, I said no. Apparently, someone overheard this conversation and later told the employees. Because I stood up for them being well within company policy, they became my most loyal team members.

Leading a team is not the same as managing. To be a leader you must be out in front and showing the way. You must exemplify everything you want in an employee. Learn to lead and you’ve learned the secret to Boone Pickens’ success.

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