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Kevin Liles, founder and C.E.O. of KWL Enterprises, was interviewed by Adam Bryant of The New York Times for his column “Corner Office.” An edited and condensed version of the interview is available online here (Retrieved 11/12/2012). These are some highlights for leaders:

[A leadership lesson learned] I realized that no matter what I have done before, I had to learn the art of selling. I had to learn the art of explaining my value proposition when I show up somewhere. How do I differentiate myself?

[What I say to a new hire] I constantly push myself and I push the team. Don’t be the same person you were yesterday. If I’m not helping you grow, if I’m not helping you put a new tool in your toolbox, then I’m not doing the job, and you shouldn’t be working for me.

[Zero Tolerance] Lack of commitment. Lack of passion. I would never fire somebody for a mistake. I would fire them because they don’t have passion…. I’ve always felt that whatever I did, I owned it. I mean, call it arrogance. Call it passion. Call it taking the weight of the world. Call it responsibility. The point is, you were not going to outperform me at something that I felt I owned.

One of Liles’s favorite items when interviewing individuals for a position is “Tell me about your family.” In the interview he explains:

I believe a great father is a great employee. I believe a great mother is a great employee. I believe someone who’s willing to give up their free time to help others is a great employee. I believe that if your weekends are spent on yourself, then you’re not going to sacrifice for the company.

Studer Education’s organizational flywheel which serves as the centerpiece for our work with school districts and leaders includes at its hub “purpose, worthwhile work, and making a difference.” Our founder, Quint Studer, teaches that when an organization helps employees reconnect to their passion to do worthwhile work, they are inspired to put in place tactics that turn the flywheel faster and faster until it gains momentum that is unstoppable. These values—purpose, worthwhile work, and making a difference—drive most people to desire to become better at what they do.

To become better, people need to know where they are going and what is expected of them. This is our job as leaders. As leaders we are called to serve others and provide purpose to their work, support them in worthwhile work, and work with them to make a difference.



Our mission at Studer Education is to provide students with a great place to learn, teachers with a great place to teach, and parents with confidence that their children are getting a great education. To do this we teach teachers and leaders how to get the best student learning results and create results-oriented school cultures. Visit us online at http://studereducation.com to learn more about Studer Education’s parent satisfaction, employee engagement, and service excellence surveys. Studer Education is a division of Studer Group, a recipient of the 2010 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.