Seventeen Vital Points of Leadership

Edition: May 2002 - Vol 10 Number 05
Article#: 1227
Author: Jim Eiting

Editors Note: Several months ago, Repertoire found in an old HIDA presentation journal titled the "30 Points of Management" by Midmark's Jim Eiting. We asked Jim to update those points for the 2000s, and he gracefully obliged us.

Throughout life, I have gained many experiences that made me into the leader I am today. From 20 years in the Young President's Organization to five years as a teacher at the University of Dayton MBA Program, not to mention 26 years as the president of Midmark Corporation, I have developed and grown my skills with time, patience and an ability to learn from my mistakes.

Over 20 years ago, I became aware that in order for the company to grow, it would be necessary for us to grow our intellectual capital, and we lacked a vehicle to accomplish this goal. We developed the Midmark University, which was a two-and-a-half day seminar for which I developed The 30 Vital Points of Management – a presentation that became the capstone talk.

As our sales representatives went about their business, the impact of this presentation began to grow. I was eventually asked to give it as a keynote speaker at various dealer sales meetings, and ultimately presented it at HIDA.

As I matured, I realized that leadership had to precede management, as the “vision” of anything is all-important. As a result, the 30 Points of Management has evolved into The 17 Vital Points of Leadership.

1. Have a willingness for hard work. Without willingness for hard work, there is no need to explain the other 16 points! If you do only 5 percent more than was asked, you will be very, very successful indeed! In fact we believe that “You make a livin' 8-5, makes raises of 5-8.”

For me, getting our medical business going really wasn't work. It was fun. If you have a passion for your work, then you don't do it for the money; you do it for the fun. Working hard is the natural progression of that passion.

2. Be confident. Greatness begins by being different. Walt Disney said that “The more you are like yourself, the less you are like anyone else, and that's what makes you unique!”

Our philosophy has always been to be confident, even in our mistakes. As a team, we work together to produce the highest quality, innovative products that help your customers ensure the best patient care possible. In doing so, we create confidence in ourselves. That confidence spills over to our dealers, who can be confident in selling the Midmark family of products and customer service. Confidence gives us the power to stand behind what we do.

3. Be a sound optimist. I have a very successful friend who starts every interview with these words, “Are you lucky?” If the answer is, “No,” the interview is over. Success is really only a series of corrected errors. If you do nothing, you won't know what will or won't work.

There are three important elements to success: Attitude, attitude, attitude.

Herb Kelleher, chair of Southwest Airlines said, “We don't care so much about education and skills, because we can train people to do their jobs. We hire attitudes.”

The real success formula is 20 percent aptitude, 80 percent attitude. Life is a mental game. The mind controls everything, and you can program it either way. Be a possibility thinker. Midmark's decision to go into the medical equipment market in 1969 was considered by many to be suicidal – absolutely against all odds. But we had a good, dedicated workforce and committed ourselves to the goal. We made it work.

4. Trust is key. Retired Midmark Vice President Dave Bester said this: “You get a good for a good – get a bad for a bad.” Integrity is like virginity – you can only lose it once. One of the key words in the company's philosophy is integrity in what we do, what we build, and the service we provide. It can't be compromised even once.

Steve Covey said that “There is more control in a system of trust than trust in a system of controls.”

If you can be at peace with yourself and know that you have maintained your integrity in all of your dealings, you have won the game. You have to feel good about what you see in that mirror in order to instill trust in others.

5. Have general balance as a person. You as a person are the sum total of all your past experiences. If you make them interesting, you will make yourself interesting.

It is important to build depth and dimension into your life with travel, arts, music and sports. We cannot control the length of our lives, but we can control the depth and breadth of them! So, don't be a spectator in life, be a participant!

We always say “If we're not having fun, we're doing it wrong.” And the more fun we have had, the more successful we have become

6. Have a sound knowledge of the problem. After instating the Midmark University program, we realized that the organization with the most knowledge would gain market share and mind share. Intellectual capital means much more than real capital. It is one of the most important assets we have, and it can continuously grow throughout life. School is not the only place to learn. Your life experiences also increase your intelligence.

But knowledge is not beneficial if not used. Rely on your knowledge and the knowledge base of others. Remember that others may have a different set of information that could be more advantageous. Learning to use the resources around you is another important facet of intelligence.

7. Be able to solve problems. This is gonna hurt: Eighty percent of all problems are caused by management. Not listening to employees, approaching a situation with only a partial understanding and not having all of the information before making a decision account for many of the issues that arise in the workplace.

If your basic approach to life is, “How do I solve problems for other people?” you will be very, very successful at whatever you do. Pay attention to your customers' complaints and compliments. Look for ways to improve your processes. Most of all, make yourself easy to buy from.

In addition, be aware that a complicated solution creates its own problem! Try to make everything in life very “user friendly.”

8. Motivate. Give your people the credit – not yourself. Ronald Reagan said, “There is no limit to your personal success if you don't mind giving someone else the credit.”

If you tell people they are good, smart and strong enough times, that's what they'll believe! Feed their egos. The Chinese philosopher Lao-Tze said, “To lead people, walk behind them.” When the best leader's work is done, people will believe they did it themselves.

One of my favorite comments in dealing with subordinates, suppliers and others is, “I just know you can do that very well.” It is very motivating indeed!

9. Be competitive. You've got to have fire in your gut. The company is full of passionate people who brought us from a simple steel fabricator to a player in the medical industry. And we are continually re-inventing ourselves.

Bobby Knight, formerly of Indiana University, says, “Everyone has the will to win, that's easy. The difference is the will to prepare to win!”

Go for the competition's jugular – blow their kneecaps off – or they'll go for yours. But always make sure that your competitive effort is ethical. Strive to be faster, more creative and certainly more motivated than the competition. Don't be afraid of competition, because it is possible to learn more by losing than by winning. Losing makes you analyze, and it teaches you lessons.

Finally, Walter Ruether said, “If you're not big enough to lose, you're not big enough to win either.”

10. Be a leader. Think of yourself as the lead dog in a dog sled harness – the speed of the leader determines the speed of the pack!

In most cases, 20% of a team will move the rest. Those 20% are the point men and women who make it happen. If you want to sell an idea or elect a candidate, select the best point people and the rest will follow.

Top leaders articulate a desired vision. Again, and again, and again! The nice thing about the future is that you can create it. That future must be built around a very tight focus. It is the real key to success. Your vision motivates your people.

Leaders never look down on anyone. A true leader should make their employees feel terrific. Leaders don't build themselves up by pushing others down. They build themselves up by lifting their people up.

Leaders believe in themselves and are extremely confident. They don't do what is popular, but what is right for their organization! They are agents of change and set the standards. No one wants to follow a weak leader. Respect and loyalty are given to the tough leader who is not afraid to make difficult or unpopular decisions.

Leaders are cohesive people. They unite people and are real team players. They realize that all relationships are based on need and that the best relationships result when both persons need each other!

Leaders realize they have to bond with their people, but they don't expect that love to be returned. They don't look for love; they look for results. They consistently show their appreciation for a job well done and are loyal to the end.

11. Be tenacious. Real success is getting knocked down, getting up, dusting yourself off and going back into battle. True leaders are used to getting knocked down. To them, getting knocked down is not important. What's important is how long it takes to get up.

A committed workforce will make a company successful. Loyalty comes from the top down and is bred in a company. It is the leader's job to motivate his team to achieve.

12. Unpleasant decisions, confrontations must be handled promptly. Leaders tell it like it is – good, bad or indifferent. They don't give gray, fuzzy answers, ever.

William Anderson, ex-chair of NCR said, “I knew I had to hurt some of the people or, in the final analysis, I would have hurt them all.”

Always remember that leadership is not about popularity. It is about making the best decision to move the company forward in the most beneficial direction.

13. Patient and impatience in proper proportion. Your ability to manage time is what gives you your leverage on life. There is no point in trying to manage your time unless you are willing to change the way you spend it.

Peter Drucker said, “If time cannot be managed, nothing else can be. Poor get the same amount as rich. You can borrow money at the bank, but not time!”

14. Increase organizational ability. Emerson said, “Man is what he thinks about all day long.”

Teams look to their leaders for direction, motivation and approval. Be sure to lead your team to perform to the best of their ability.

Norman Vincent Peale said, “You may not be what you think you are, but what you think, you are!”

In the mind's eye, perception is reality! Nothing is good or bad…it is the mind that makes it so. That is why this article is good – my mind says it's terrific!

15. Be able to pick and inspire your team. In terms of sports, the true test of a great player is getting those around you to play better. There is no letter “I” in the word “team.”

Leaders are only as good as the people who work for them. You can't build a business; you can only build people. They are the ones who build your business. The best way to spot a good leader is to look at the people who follow them.

Always hire people smarter than you – it proves you are the smarter of the two. In addition, hire to complement your weaknesses. Know yourself and be honest. Every new person should bring something new to your organization.

Furthermore, hiring the best is less expensive because: 1) You will need fewer people, 2) their decision-making skills are better, and 3) they make decisions faster.

Walter Wriston of Citicorp said, “If you've got the wrong people in the wrong spots, there is nothing you can do to save the situation. If you've got the right ones in the right spots, there's nothing you can do to screw it up! These people are your safety nets.”

Finally, it is the job of a leader to move the organization forward in their tenure. But more important, it is to develop the people to do it again in his/her absence. The final test of greatness is how well you choose and train your successor!

16. Be able to delegate. When you do things that someone below you can do as well, you are a wasted asset. There is no point in doing well what you should not be doing at all. Remember, too, the higher up in the organization decisions are made, the weaker the organization.

17. Have a belief in God. Voltaire, great French philosopher: “If God did not exist, it would have been necessary to invent Him.”

Simply put, I cannot do my job alone. I had wonderful parents. My mother said, “God gave you what you have to see what you would do with it. Life is only a test.”

My father was a giver. He believed that happiness comes from giving. Everyone can give at least one of three things – time, talent or treasure. We all have one of these. Life should be a giving experience, not a taking one. I can't give back to sages that taught me the above, but I can give forward.

Each evening, I thank the good Lord for the passionate and caring people at Midmark, because our success comes from their skill and effort. Then I ask for 7 things:

• Wisdom • Humility • Compassion • Integrity • Strength • Health • Sense of Humor         


Midmark has re-invented itself again and again. In the last five years, we have made four acquisitions and one major divestiture. Correspondingly, we have had to learn dental, digital and international markets along the way. Thanks to a well-educated and insightful new president at the company, things are going quite well. Anne Eiting-Klamar has brought us a true epiphany. It is her company now.

Over the last five or six years, the company has gone through three top management changes. These are traumatic to our people, but thanks to our new competitive leadership, we are surviving and growing. To help bridge this transition, Executive Vice President Denny Meyer retired, but agreed to serve on the Executive Committee and the Board of Directors. I remain Chairman of the Board. Anne runs the company. Her medical background, coupled with that of her husband, Dr. Rob Klamar, brings a different perspective.

I see friends in this industry and other industries selling their companies and I can see why. Unless you have passion, most companies must ultimately be sold. Keep in mind that the average age of a company is only 24 years. Our company remains privately held and in the fourth generation of family leadership.

At the end of the day, I thank God for our teammates, distributors and friends within a wonderful and fraternal industry. We have been so, so fortunate! And we never forget that without all of you, Midmark is nothing!

Jim Eiting, chairman of the board of Midmark Corp., Versailles, OH, was the third generation of Eitings to run the company. He is a 1956 graduate of the University of Dayton's Industrial Engineering Technology program and also completed two advanced management programs at the University of Cincinnati. He joined Midmark, known then as the Industrial Equipment Company, in 1956, working in Engineering. In 1967, he was named general manager. That same year, the company purchased the American Metal Furniture Company, its first entry into the medical equipment market. He served as president from 1969 to 1993. In 1999 he served as president for several months.

Mr. Eiting is a member of the World Presidents Organization. He serves on the Board of Directors of Direct Relief International, is a board member of Miltex Corp., and is a guest lecturer at meetings and conventions. He is in the process of writing a book based on his 17 Vital Points of Leadership.

Mr. Eiting credits his success to the dedication of the Midmark team, his family and to the good fortune of being backed by his wife Esther, a strong and very dedicated corporate wife and mother. The Eitings have four children and five grandchildren.