Management in 10 Words
by Terry Leahy
“At an early age, I’d learned that if I wanted to achieve something, I had to look to myself,” Leahy wrote. “Self-help, not ‘please help’ was my mantra.” This sets the scene for the book, which mostly lacks personal anecdotes. This is not a book about the man, who is a deeply private individual, but one with tips and lessons to increase the chance of success in running businesses.
There are ten chapters, each dealing with a different management theme, such as loyalty, trust, truth and values. Each chapter centres on Leahy’s own experiences of running Tesco and how he tackled the turnaround of the company. He also talks about what he has learned from great company leaders, including Sam Walton of Wal-Mart and Taiichi Ohno of Toyota.
Leahy describes being at a government meeting where a senior official asked him: “How did Tesco go from being a struggling UK retailer to the third largest retailer in the world?” Leahy replied: “It’s quite simple. We just focused relentlessly on delivering for our customers. We set ourselves some simple aims and some basic values to live by. And then we created a process to achieve them, making sure that they knew what everyone was responsible for.”
Apparently, there was a stunned silence. And then someone said: “Was that it?” “Yes,” he answered.
Right from the start, as Leahy was being promoted through the company, he knew that by “relentlessly delivering for customers” and winning the loyalty of customers and colleagues alike, he would make the retailer the success it became.
In 1995, Leahy was promoted to marketing director and he makes no attempt to hide the significance of his Tesco Clubcard idea, which led to an 11% rise in sales on the morning of the launch. “I knew something had changed in the industry forever, and my life along with it,” he said.