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Two Things You Must Do Before You Can Lead Others

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In this episode of our Corporate Competitor Podcast, Keller Williams KWx CEO Carl Liebert looks back on his experiences as a U.S. Naval Academy cadet and athlete and as a business executive to discuss the virtuous circle of coachability at the center of successful teams.

When Carl Liebert was a young cadet in the U.S. Naval Academy, he used to join Admiral Mike Mullen, who had been Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on his early morning rounds aboard a ship docked off the coast of Maryland. There he learned a lesson he’s applied not only to commanding a ship but also a business.

“Admiral Mullen used to say that as you go to a new command, or a new company, you should focus on three things,” Liebert shared. “First, listen. Go out and ask great questions. Second, once you’ve listened, go through a period of learning. Only after you’ve done both of those things is it time to lead.”

A former Navy basketball player, Liebert went on to earn advanced degrees from Harvard, Stanford, and Vanderbilt en route to attaining two decades of C-Suite experience at Home Depot, 24-Hour Fitness, USAA, AutoNation, and now Keller Williams’ parent holding company KWx. He’s been part of many great teams in his day, and he says the best share two key traits: they’re packed with coachable people—including the leader—and they show a strong bias toward taking the shot when they’re open.

“As a leader, my job is not to have all the ideas but to encourage others to take that shot because rarely in life do you learn by studying something,” Liebert noted. “You learn by doing it, failing, and then reapplying what you’ve learned.”

Listeners to the podcast will learn:

• Why you should focus on the “free throws” and “box outs” of business rather than the fancy moves

• Why a crisis offers you an opportunity to take risks rather than observe caution

• How leaders can prevent their teams from turning one mistake into two

• Why Liebert gives his team “permission to fail”

Liebert has been coached by some of the best. Now he wants to assist you. Have a listen.


•  7:45   Why improvement requires patience.

• 14:45  How to identify individuals that are lifelong learners.

• 17:00  Breaking down teams fueled by trust.

• 30:00  The key elements of building a cohesive team.

• 38:30  How to surround yourself with people that help minimize your mistakes.

• 41:45  How to create a risk-taking culture.

• 45:00  Why Liebert gives his team “permission to fail”

Check out the full Corporate Competitor Podcast interview archive and subscribe to new episodes.


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