Tribal Culture

Surround yourself with smart people, advises WD-40 executive

There is a little blue and yellow can of WD-40 in almost every farm shop. Although the technology inside the nation’s top-selling maintenance product is critical, the people inside the company are more important, says Garry Ridge, CEO of WD-40 and co-author of the book “Helping People Win at Work.”

He spoke about leadership strategies this winter at the Top Producer Executive Network (TPEN) Signature Event in Palm Springs. 

“The reason WD-40 has been so successful is not because I’m a smart person but because I have had people around me who are smarter,” explains Ridge, who maintains a 95% employee retention rate.

Leaders must strive to connect with others and act on their word. “I have no right to get in the way of people doing magnificent things,” he says. “I try to be their mentor, their friend, someone who can support a tribal culture. We call ourselves a tribe, not a team.” 

CEO Garry Ridge Says Top Leaders Have These Characteristics:

  • They involve their people. 
  • They are always in servant leadership mode. 
  • They must be competent. 
  • They are connected with emotional intelligence. 
  • They exercise good judgment.
  • They have a strong sense of self-worth.
  • They value contrarians. 
  • They move forward.
  • They do what they say they are going to do. 
  • They are champions of hope.
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