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When kids get it before we do Featured

9:40am EDT July 22, 2002
While Trip Levis, vice president of people development at Freemarkets Inc., was preparing for a presentation on leadership for the annual Entrepreneur's Growth Conference, he asked his 6-year-old son what he thought good leadership was all about.

His son, despite his age, responded with a rather insightful perspective. He offered these six suggestions:

1. Don't walk off a cliff, because people are following you. In other words, the elder Levis says, leaders are responsible for the well-being of their followers.

2. Do good things so people will follow you.

3. Don't talk behind people's backs.

4. Be a nice leader, not a mean leader.

5. Don't lie when you do something wrong. Admit your mistakes, Levis says.

6. Don't jump to conclusions when someone is hurt. Levis is quick to note the last one may be geared more toward his son sometimes getting in trouble for hurting his younger sibling. But, he says, it also suggests that leaders should be "slow to judge."

Levis adds a few of his own:

  • Embrace and adapt quickly to change.

  • Have a vision and the ability to project that vision to others.

  • Create an environment that is "very safe and secure."

  • Demonstrate care and empathy for people. But, Levis stresses, "That doesn't mean you have to be a softy."
How to reach: Freemarkets Inc., (412) 434-0500

Daniel Bates