“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” – John C. Maxwell Dr Winston Dean of the School of Global Leadership & Entrepreneurship. denotes the exceptional leader as one which “does the right thing at the right time for the right reason.” He states that an outstanding leader loves their followers and consistently has their best interest at heart. How many leaders do you know live by such a motto?
I was exceptionally impressed by a story I recently read about Roberto C. Goizueta, former CEO of Coca-Cola. This story impressed so that I would like to share it with my readers. He quotes “The cynics will tell you that the good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow. Just do it anyway.”
Roberto Goizueta the CEO of Coca-Cola from 1981-1997 was considered an outstanding leader by all accounts. It is said that he was admired by both business competitors and his company shareholders. He referred to his shareholders as “shareowners.” Cola-Cola was in a steady decline for 20 years when Goizueta took it over in 1981, his focus was to pull it out of that decline. His mission was to globalize Coca-Cola. Although this was his passion he recognized that he could not do it alone, therefore, he hand-picked his management team, an effort which proved to be very successful. Goizueta put Coca-Cola back into the competition with his idea of international marketing and so began the ascension of Coca-Cola.
Goizueta was a Cuban immigrant who came to the United States in 1969. He came to study and graduated from Yale University as a chemical engineer. Once graduated he returned home. He joined Coca-Cola in 1954 in Havana Cuba. He defected in 1969 to come to the United States for a promotion with Coca-Cola. He was on a steady promotional incline until 1981 when he became Coca-Cola CEO. He was able to pull Coca-Cola out of its slump and made it a globally recognized. He was a brilliant man who had an impeccable reputation as a man of integrity, one of his most remarkable traits.
Roberto Goizueta has been acknowledged by many for his awesome leadership skills. One of the things which made him a great leader was that his awareness that in order to accomplish his goal he would need a good team. This resulted in his careful selection of team members. He was a proponent of acknowledging and richly rewarding his high performers. The outcome of such leadership ensured his success with minimal turnover and loyal employees.
Roberto C. Goizueta was an exceptional leader and philanthropist. He understood the gift of giving and in 1992 he founded The Goizueta Foundation. The mission of this foundation is to assist organizations that empower individuals and families through educational opportunities to improve the quality of their lives.
Through the globalization of Coca-Cola Goizueta ensured that his passion to have his shareholders reach unprecedented financial gains was met. Goizueta was commited to the organization, staff and shareholders; he never lost sight of this. Another unusual leadership strategy that he applied was his mentorship of a successor. Goizueta closely mentored others to do his job. When he died in 1997 at age 65 the company did not suffer any stock market decline he was immediately replaced by his successor M. Douglas Ivester. Leaving a legacy for this unique strategy for which shareholders were grateful.
In a speech given at Independence Day ceremonies at Monticello, Virginia, 1995 Roberto C. Goizueta said. “My story boils down to a single, inspiring reality … the reality that a young immigrant could come to this country, be given a chance to work hard and apply his skills, and ultimately earn the opportunity to lead not only a large corporation, but an institution that actually symbolizes the very essence of America and American ideals.”
We began with Dr. Winston’s statement that an exceptional leader “does the right thing at the right time for the right reason.” Roberto C. Goizueta proved that this can be done. He was most unlikely to succeed given his environment and his lack of resources, yet, he pulled himself up and out by assisting others to succeed. He had a well strategized plan to change his environment, his community and his world! Now that, is leadership!
To Your Success,