Leadership: Little Big Things with Tom Peters

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Little BIG Things: Leadership  module from the Tom Peters Series consists of 21 segments.  Available as a complete module or each segment is available separately.   The Little BIG Things: Leadership DVD in the new Tom Peters training program is an invaluable asset for all levels of your management team. Tom attacks the issues of promotions, employee reviews, communication, teamwork, and setting milestones through his insight and candid conversations that are aimed directly at the viewers.

Do you want your managers “wandering around”? You do if you want them to MBWA (Managing By Wandering Around) just like Howard Schultz the CEO of Starbucks does!

American vs. Southwest Airlines 2:31

Two airlines with headquarters in Dallas, two annual meetings, both scheduled on the same spring day in 2008. On one side, several hundreds of members of the pilot’s union were picketing American Airlines. On the other side, the members of the pilot’s union had taken out an ad in thanking Herb Kelleher. The difference between the two couldn't have been more pronounced. Herb Kelleher always replied when asked about the secret of his success: “you have to treat your employees like customers.”

Answer These Questions 3:37

Your job is to develop your people, and giving promotions is critical to your success as a leader. These questions can help you evaluate the performance and promotion potential of your people. The goal here is to be precise in asking people about their record and their own performance as a developer of people.

Ask Why 2:51

So you’re the boss, you’re supposed to know everything, right? That’s why they made you the boss. Well, Tom wants you to practice saying this one word: Why? If you’re really brilliant, you’ll ask ‘why?’ and then, when you don’t understand part of the explanation, you’ll ask again. About two-thirds of what we do, regardless of the importance of whatever it is that we are doing, is out of habit. Sometimes, you need to take a step back and ask “why?”

Build Success 2:02

Re/Max co-founder Dave Liniger once said “We are a Life Success Company. My business is making the people who work for me into successful human beings.” Who is your primary customer? Is that also your ultimate customer? This could make the difference in whether or not you’re building a Life Success Company. Ensure that your ultimate customer will be served well by taking care of the primary customer.

CHRO - Chief Hurdle Removal Officer 2:31

Thinking about something Peter Drucker once said, Tom recalls this amusing thought: 95% of what we call management consists of making it difficult for people to get things done. Although this is funny, it is also very true. No one is asking you to do all of the work yourself (nor should you be), but part of you're job as a leader is to become a CHRO, A Chief Hurdle Removal Officer. As the boss there are things you can do to grease the way and help your people jump some hurdles. So, what have YOU done to be of service to your employees?

Focus on Success 2:27

What if, instead of focusing on things that went wrong and how to fix them, we focused on, and even built on, the things that went right? Of course we will always need to fix problems, but the idea here is to focus on and use as an example things that go right.

Hire the Last 1 Percent 2:48

There are people who don’t just get the job done, but truly give their all to their projects and their work. A class of people Tom calls the "Last 1 Percenters”, people who believe finishing the job is one thing; but really really finishing the job is another.” These are the people you should actively seek when looking to hire.

MBWA 2:12

Often the day-to-day issues of work seem to keep leaders in their office. But, at the start of the day, most intend to get out of their office and go spend some time with the people who are doing the real work. How else will you really know what’s going on? We call this MBWA: Managing by Wandering Around. Howard Shultz, the founder of Starbucks had the right idea when he said “Unless I can feel it and taste it and smell it and touch it, I’m not in touch with what’s going on.” True to his word, he personally visits 25 Starbucks shops a week.

Milestones 3:38

Tom is a “milestoner” extraordinaire. (In fact, Tom may be a little over the top when he speaks about milestones.) But he believes that having and recognizing milestone can be very important for leaders.
Milestones, even small ones, should be incorporated into the planning of every project to keep people engaged and excited. By designing tasks with small wins all along the way, leaders can recognize and celebrate these successes. As Tom says, “Celebrate the dickens out of the smallest ones as well as the biggest one.”

No Standardized Forms! 3:13

“From McDonalds to NASA, never again. No standardized instruments. I’m cutting you no slack on this one.”
Wow, that’s a little strong, right? When it comes to evaluations, people are never standard and the evaluation instrument shouldn’t be either. Think of a professional football team. Everyone is an individual and has a different role in the team. The same is true for members of a symphony, or a student, and the same also holds true for your people. You need to evaluate people individually.

Organizations are Political 2:04

George Schultz, the former Secretary of State said, “You go to Washington with the best of reasons but you get so caught up in power games that you quickly forget why came in the first place.” This lesson is true in any business, and all organizations are political. It is important to keep perspective and stay grounded in a political environment. Ask yourself, “Why am I here? Why did I take this job?” Do not let the politics overwhelm your enthusiasm. Stop and ask yourself “what happened last week that: A. I'm proud of and B. helped develop people?”

Power of Apologies 3:02

Marshall Goldsmith wrote: “I regard apologizing as the most magical, healing, restorative gesture human beings can make. It is the centerpiece of my work with executives who want to get better.”
There is nothing more powerful, yet harder to do than apologizing. Tom believes learning how to apologize effectively is the real essence of strategic strength and an incredibly important tool for anyone and any organization. Just like playing the piano or the cello, it is something you can learn, you can study, and you can get better at it, trust me - or more important, trust Marshall Goldsmith.

Problems and Responses 2:09

The problem is never (or rarely) the problem. The response to the problem is often times more important. Perception is all there is! Make the responses positive, quick and proactive.

Pronoun Power 1:52

It may seem trivial, but your choice of pronouns can be very powerful. When Tom worked at McKinsey, his boss religiously used the word “We” instead of “I.” It is more inclusive, promotes teamwork and builds collaboration.

Shut Up! 2:56

Tom has a very important message: Shut Up! Whether you’re a leader, salesperson, or a customer service representative, you must have the ability (and the patience!) to listen. Stop talking and learn to listen! Quoting from one of Tom’s favorite books featuring the fictional CIA operative, Paul Christopher:
“Christopher had learned when he was very young that if he kept quiet, the other person would fill the silence. Everyone has a story to tell if only you have the patience to wait for it and not get in the way of it”
Christopher's Ghost
A Paul Christopher Novel by Charles McCarry

Squint Test 2:20

Tom doesn’t believe in quotas, but he does think that if you are serving a market that is significantly women or significantly an ethnic or other group, the only way to effectively deal with that market is to have people that walk and talk that market.
Your team should pass a rough "squint test" and try in a general sense to parallel the market that the team is serving. This does not need to be an exact match, but there should be some crossover. Will your team pass a squint test?

Strategic Listening 3:36

Listening is a key skill for any leader - and for any Doctor. When you are caring for a patient, the #1 source of information is the patient. (The same thing applies to customers in business, too). Based on this information, how long (on average) does a patient speak before a doctor interrupts? If you said 18 seconds, you would be right.
The single most strategic strength that any organization can have is a commitment to strategic listening on the part of every member of the organization. Listen to frontline employees; Listen to vendors and customers. Listening is critical. Practice strategic listening.

The 3 H's 1:23

Howard, Hilton, and Herb! Tom describes the extraordinary leadership talents of Howard Schultz, Conrad Hilton, and Herb Kelleher and the lessons we’ve learned. Treat employees like customers, stay in touch, and always sweat the details.

The 3 Most Important Words 2:24

I don’t know. They may be hard to say, but these are the three most important words in any manager’s language. Fundamentally, a manager is not paid to have all the answers. A manager is paid to develop the people who will find the answers and go beyond the answers. So start practicing: "I don’t know. You figure it out!"

The 4 Most Important Words 1:51

The four most important words in any organization are “What Do You Think?” Why are these words so important? What you are really saying is “you are a person of value that has an opinion that I want to hear.” Remember (and use) these four words and you will benefit enormously.

Thoughts on Leadership 2:33

Gandhi said "You must be the change you wish to see in the world." Remember, your actions always have impact on everyone around you. As David D'Alessandro (the former CEO John Hancock) said, "It's Always Show Time." A manager is leading people. You lead by example. You must understand that you are putting on a show. People watch you. Franklin Delano Roosevelt knew this as well. He said, “The president must be the nation’s number one actor.” The same thing is true for a front line supervisor as it is for the President. It is always ShowTime.

Purchase Includes:
  • DVD (54 Minutes)
  • Discussion Guide
  • Power Point
This program is part of The Little BIG Things Serieswhich is available with discount pricing.

Running Time: 54 minutes
Copyright Date: 2009


  • Leadership and Management
  • Coaching
  • Communication
  • Hiring, Interviewing Skills, and Employee Retention
  • Leadership
  • Listening
  • Management Skills
  • Performance Appraisal
  • Teams and Teambuilding
  • The Little BIG Things with Tom Peters

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