Robert Townsend

Robert
Townsend
1920
1998

American Business Executive, CEO of Avis, Director of American Express, Author of "Up the Organization"

Author Quotes

Consultants are people who borrow your watch and tell you what time it is, and then walk off with the watch.

Many ideas are good for a limited time -- not forever.

Don't hire a master to paint you a masterpiece and then assign a roomful of schoolboy artists to look over his shoulder and make suggestions.

Many people give lip service, but few delegate authority in important matters. And that means all they delegate is dog-work. A real leader does as much dog-work for his people as he can: he can do it, or see a way to do without it, ten times as fast. And he delegates as many important matters as he can because that creates a climate in which people grow.

Excellence and size are fundamentally incompatible.

Most people in big companies are administered, not led. They are treated as personnel, not people.

Flooded vehicles are sometimes cleaned up by unscrupulous sellers without disclosure of flood damage. In most states, this is illegal, but unfortunately some vehicles will slip through the system.

One of the most important tasks of a manager is to eliminate his people's excuses for failure.

If asked when you can deliver something, ask for time to think. Build in a margin of safety. Name a date. Then deliver it earlier than you promised. You'll be very valuable wherever you are.

Rewarding outstanding performance is important. Much more neglected is the equally important need to make sure that the underachievers don?t get rewarded. This is more painful, so it doesn?t get done very often.

If people are coming to work excited...if they're making mistakes freely and fearlessly...if they're having fun...if they're concentrating on doing things, rather than preparing reports and going to meetings...then somewhere you have a leader.

The artist must conceive with warmth yet execute with coolness.

If you don't do it with excellence, don't do it at all! Because if it's not excellent, it won't be profitable or fun, and if you're not in business for fun or profit, what the hell are you doing there?

The soul is made for action, and cannot rest till it be employed. Idleness is its rust. Unless it will up and think and taste and see, all is in vain.

If you have to have a policy manual, publish the Ten Commandments.

These are stretch targets - they are not easy for us.

If you shoot for the stars and hit the moon, it's OK. But you've got to shoot for something. A lot of people don't even shoot.

They know they're very good issues to be fighting for. They all feel good about it.

[A good leader should] carry water for their people, protect them from distraction, and appeal to the best in every employee. They should be visible to the troops.

If you?re not in business for fun or profit, what the hell are you doing here? [subtitle of UP the Organization]

To be satisfying a job should have variety, wholeness, autonomy, and feedback. In other words, no job description.

A good leader needs to have a compass in his head and a bar of steel in his heart.

In combat, officers eat last. Most people in big companies today are administered, not led. They are treated as personnel, not people.

To have a successful organization, you?ll have to give up being an administrator who loves to run others and become a manager who carries water for his people so they can get on with the job.

A good manager doesn't try to eliminate conflict; he tries to keep it from wasting the energies of his people. If you're the boss and your people fight you openly when they think that you are wrong -- that's healthy.

Author Picture
First Name
Robert
Last Name
Townsend
Birth Date
1920
Death Date
1998
Bio

American Business Executive, CEO of Avis, Director of American Express, Author of "Up the Organization"