25 Rules for Leaders

Fast Company's recent RealTime San Diego generated a remarkable collection of ideas, tools, and inspirational advice. Here are 25 of the smartest insights that we took away from the event.

Leadership. Innovation. Work. Brand. Technology.

Fast Company's flagship event centered around those themes for three days of real learning and just-in-time inspiration last week in San Diego. The roster of RealTime speakers included an Irish grocer, a socially responsible potter, and a pediatric physician, among others -- distinct characters who all shared one common message: This is your time to lead!

In calling Fast Company readers to lead change at work and at home, RealTime speakers shared their ideas about the state of business, the power of people, and the future of innovation. Here are 25 of the smartest insights that we took away from the event.

1. Audit Your Company Cultures
"Companies don't have one culture. They have as many as they have supervisors or managers. You want to build a strong culture? Hold every manager accountable for the culture that he or she builds."
--Marcus Buckingham, coauthor of First, Break All the Rules and Now, Discover Your Strengths

2. Informed People Don't Fear Change
"People are not afraid of change. They fear the unknown."
--Dick Brown, chairman and CEO of EDS

3. Beware "Aspirational Accounting"
"Enron has changed things significantly. You used to be able to buy a company, account for it in bizarre ways, and make money on the sale. That world is over."
--Nolan Bushnell, founder, chairman, and CEO of uWink Inc.

4. Empower Your People -- Turn Them Loose
"Freedom is the greatest when the ground rules are clear. Chalk out the playing field and say, Within those lines, make any decisions you need."
--Dick Brown, chairman and CEO of EDS

5. Prevent Erosion of Human Assets
"We are systematically depreciating our human capital. For most people, the first year with the company is the best. It's downhill from there."
--Marcus Buckingham, coauthor of First, Break All the Rules and Now, Discover Your Strengths

6. Be Generous With What You Know
"Knowledge sharing is the basis of everything. Share knowledge with reckless abandon."
--Tim Sanders, chief solutions officer at Yahoo

7. Expand Your Roster
"Think of your team as not just the people you pay, but as the people who pay you as well."
--Feargal Quinn, executive chairman of Superquinn

8. Don't Judge a Man by the Size of His Wallet
"The only thing wrong with poor people is that they don't have any money. That's a curable condition."
--Bill Strickland, president and CEO of the Manchester Craftsmen's Guild and the Bidwell Training Center

9. Harness Your Skills for Good
"Technology has enormous potential to facilitate public-health problem solving. Marcus Welby needs you guys."
--Dr. Irwin Redlener, president and cofounder of the Children's Health Fund and president of the Children's Hospital at Montefiore

10. Groom Your People for Success
"Weakness fixing might prevent failure, but strength building leads to excellence. Focus on strength, and manage around weaknesses."
--Marcus Buckingham, coauthor of First, Break All the Rules and Now, Discover Your Strengths

11. Promote Brand Awareness Throughout Your Enterprise
"Everybody throughout the enterprise should know what the brand can and cannot do. There's an imperative for education."
--Jim Goodwin, vice president of marketing at the Absolut Spirits Co.

12. Embrace Imperfection -- Fast!
"Beware of perfect people. They will never propel your enterprise to greatness. They're too cautious. You've got to be fast to be good."
--Dick Brown, chairman and CEO of EDS

13. Don't Let the Venture Capitalists Get You Down
"Revolutionary change is where real value is created. Don't assume the capital markets know what the hell they're doing. The VC market is currently in more disarray than most companies."
--Nolan Bushnell, founder, chairman, and CEO of uWink Inc.

14. Allow Yourself to Dream
"Dreams are maps. The ability to think about the future is what drives us all to attain."
--Dr. Irwin Redlener, president and cofounder of the Children's Health Fund and president of the Children's Hospital at Montefiore

15. Increase Your Net Worth
"Networking is sharing your contacts with others to create value without the expectation of compensation. Your network is your net worth."
--Tim Sanders, chief solutions officer at Yahoo

16. Use Every Teachable Moment
"Every time you give somebody compensation, it's a great time to give feedback."
--Dick Brown, chairman and CEO of EDS

17. Shine Some Hope
"If you want to work with people who have no hope, you have to look like the solution and not the problem."
--Bill Strickland, president and CEO of the Manchester Craftsmen's Guild and the Bidwell Training Center

18. Set a New Standard of Performance
"We need to get beyond the single bottom line and measure a company's performance by a triple bottom line. Financial profits alone aren't enough. The results also need to be good for people and for the environment."
--Scott Bedbury, CEO of Brandstream

19. Laugh at Yourself
"Just when you think the sun shines out of your butt, all you have is an illuminated landing area."
--Nolan Bushnell, founder, chairman, and CEO of uWink Inc.

20. Get Up, Stand Up
"YCDBSOYA: You can't do business sitting on your armchair."
--Feargal Quinn, executive chairman of Superquinn

21. Stop Whining -- Start Seeking
"In these times, it's important to find the opportunities in the disruptions rather than just to lament the change."
--Rob Glaser, chairman and CEO of RealNetworks Inc.

22. Leaders: Move It or Lose It
"Managers consistently delude themselves about how much good they're doing. The oath for managers should be the same as physicians: First do no harm. "
--Robert Sutton, professor of management science and engineering at Stanford University

23. Be Honest
"The same thing you want from management is what customers want from you: honest communication. Be honest with your customers; tell them everything you know."
--Bonnie Reitz, vice president of sales and distribution at Continental Airlines

24. Don't Stretch This Rule
"When you start thinking about growing your brand, be sure not to ignore the Spandex rule: Just because you can, doesn't mean you should."
--Scott Bedbury, CEO of Brandstream

25. What's Your Bottom Line?
"People over 65 were asked, 'If you could live your life over, what would you do differently?' They said three things: 'I'd take time to stop and ask the big questions. I'd be more courageous and take more risks in work and love. I'd try to live with purpose -- to make a difference.' You don't have to be an elder to ask, What's my own bottom line?"
--Richard Leider, founding partner of the Inventure Group

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