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Why Andy Grove was such a tech master

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers

Cerebral executives pride themselves on their objectivity. They like to think that they can push aside emotion and confront challenges with fact-filled clarity.

Intel CEO Andy Grove (1936-2016) mastered this skill. His uncanny ability to perceive problems from the dispassionate point of view of an outsider helped him identify solutions that others missed. He resisted the urge to act rashly; instead, he applied logic and rational thought so that he could transcend the heat of the moment.

Grove developed beliefs to capture what he viewed as successful traits of top leaders. Examples:

“Knowledge power” trumps “position power.” The person who possesses the most knowledge to address a problem should lead the charge, not the manager with the most impressive job title. Authority flows from your ideas and insight, not from your seniority.

Argue about issues, not people. Grove encouraged debates among staffers, but he insisted that they clash over the best course of action. He wanted them arguing over ideas, not the people who advocated for or against them.

Put common sense on a pedestal. Grove prized common sense as the dominant factor in driving sound decisions. He frowned on anyone who overlooked it in favor of blindly jumping on the bandwagon.

Write to teach. A diligent journal keeper, Grove found that jotting his thoughts enabled him to teach himself new concepts and skills. The act of writing served to sharpen his thinking and impose discipline on his approach to solve problems.

— Adapted from “The History and Influence of Andy Grove,” Richard Tedlow, http://hbswk.hbs.edu.

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