Most people have never heard of him. But everyone can learn from his leadership. He survived childhood in Nazi-occupied Hungary and Communist domination of that nation after the war and came to this country in 1956.
Andy Grove, who joined Intel Corporation the day of its incorporation in 1968, received numerous awards during his long tenure. The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, one of the most renowned graduate schools of business, voted Grove the most influential business leader of the past 25 years.
Grove, currently a senior advisor to Intel, served as CEO and chairman prior to his retirement. During his watch, the company’s stock rose 31.6 percent per year, revenue grew from $1.9 billion to $25.1 billion, the workforce doubled, and Intel became a global competitor as a manufacturer of microprocessors.
How did Grove achieve these feats? He employed five basic principles that are central to the success of all organizations.
First, he set the example. He expected much of others, but no less than of himself. Notably, he declined customary corporate perks, working out of a tiny cubicle instead of a larger corner office.
Grove developed a vision for the company and pursued it with vigor. But at the same time, he realized the industry was in constant turmoil, requiring the vision to be tempered by marketplace realities.
He also created a work environment that allowed for individualism but also imposed discipline. Grove challenged colleagues to be innovative, but he demanded that they measure all aspects of their performance.
Grove’s legacy perhaps will be best captured in terms of timely response to change. In fact, he wrote books and articles on the necessity for quick response in industries such as microchips that seem to be in a constant state of flux.
Finally, Grove demonstrated over and over the ability to rebound from setbacks. As Japanese producers threatened to destroy Intel’s ability to produce memory chips, Grove responded with a monumental change of direction for the company, leading Intel into the new field of microprocessors.
While readers may not be aware of Andy Grove’s contributions, they can benefit from his experiences. The five principles he used in transforming Intel apply to anyone in a leadership position.
Wayne Curtis, Ph.D., a former superintendent of Alabama banks and business school dean, is retired from the board of directors of First United Security Bank. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.