One of the most authentic people I know is also one of the most agile professionals I know. Donnie Smith fast-tracked his career at Tyson Foods, Inc., starting out as a broiler service technician in his home state of Tennessee and rising all the way to CEO at the world’s largest meat producer. Over the past few years, I’ve had the opportunity to learn from Donnie. He’s featured as a very positive example in both of my books, The Organizational Champion and The Anywhere Leader. And he was recently featured in the Profiles section of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette with a great story about his life.
What I’ve learned from Donnie is to be everything you are and nothing you’re not. I’ve learned how to treat people and how to work through them to accomplish good things. I’ve learned that, for the agile leader, the right mindset is more important than the right skill set.
What’s the right mindset?
- Be yourself.
- Live with hope and faith.
- Pursue the harder right, rather than the easier wrong.
- Have proper perspective – you’re not that big of a deal.
- Treat people fairly.
- Be fully present in everything you choose to do.
- Champion the progress, not the politics.
Because Donnie is authentic, people-oriented, and has the right mindset, he holds tremendous influence and has experienced tremendous success. He’s a great example to me personally and professionally – even though he is a Tennessee Volunteers fan living in the heart of Razorback country.