Warren Buffett’s Leadership Qualities
News sources such as USA Today are reporting that Warren Buffet’s firm, Berkshire Hathaway, purchased 3.7 million shares of DaVita just after the company reported weak earnings. It may seem like a risky decision, and it is. But out-of-the-box thinking is what helped Warren Buffett become the richest person in the world in 2008 (Forbes Ranking). This clever individual has mastered the ability to invest in the cocoon, before the butterfly emerges and his value in life reaches far beyond his wallet to strengths in wisdom and character. Though he is already widely considered the most successful investor of the century, Buffett’s leadership qualities are what make him truly remarkable.
3 Leadership Qualities of Warren Buffet:
For having been ranked the richest man in the world, Warren Buffett is surprisingly frugal. BBC describes this quality as one of his paradoxes. “Mr. Buffett has made more money than almost everyone, but appears to have no use for it personally – except for the single indulgence of his private jet, which he calls ‘The Indefensible,’” (BBC). Stories of his frugality are high in number; one of the best examples is when he turned a dresser into a bassinet for his first child.
Why does being frugal work well for leaders? The economic recession highlights the importance of this quality more than ever. From an organizational scale to a personal scale, the ability to wisely save money and cut corners one day opens up opportunities the next. Beyond saving dollars, frugal leaders, managers and executives garner respect from their team and customers. In fact, it is a sign of high emotional intelligence to realize that careless spending negatively impacts others.
Warren Buffett is an astonishingly humble man, which translates into much of his success. He is humble in that he rejects the idea of dynastic wealth (New York Times). He doesn’t feel as if anything should have ever been handed to him and believes working for something is important. But beyond that, his humility shows through in charitable giving as well. In 2006, he announced that his fortune will go to the Bill & Melinda Gates Charity Foundation (Wikipedia), which is the largest act of charitable giving in history. Warren Buffett has repeatedly emphasized the importance of sharing wealth. Humility is embedded further within that act, in that he has suggested he will be donating to their efforts, because he feels he wouldn’t be as adequate at philanthropy. He suggests in an interview that if someone can do something better than he can, he’s happy to let them do it.
“Holding periods for stocks now average less than a year. Fifty years ago, they were about seven years. We were better off then” (The Wall Street Journal). The lesson of patience in dealing with stocks is one Buffett learned at a young age. When he was 11 years old, Buffett purchased three shares of Cities Service Preferred for $38 per share. The stock quickly dropped to $27, so when it crept back up to $40, he quickly sold it for a small profit. He regretted that decision when Cities Services shot up to nearly $200 a share.
Buffett once said “Pick the wrong company at the right price and you lose. Pick the right company at the wrong price and you lose. You have to pick the right company at the right price and to do that you have to wait and wait–patiently (Forbes).” His patience is largely to thank for his financial success, but the principle applies to leadership as well. Jaw-dropping performance and winning teams don’t sprout up in a day. Strong leaders have the patience to persevere through solving conflicts and surviving trials, empowering their team along the way. Similarly, reaching career goals takes both grit and patience. American Author, Napoleon Hill said “patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success” (Brainy Quote).
Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago ~Warren Buffett
Every leader brings something different to the table and that’s how the world evolves. So as a leader, take these values imparted from one of the greatest minds of the century, and build on them. Start by turning a dresser into a bassinet or offering encouragement to your team. Great leaders plant the strongest trees for tomorrow, so invest in some seeds today.