WD - 40 and Leadership

I was in San Diego last week for the tenth annual Leadership Challenge Forum.  What a great event… great learning with wonderful people who also think that leadership development is a noble pursuit.

The keynote by Garry Ridge, CEO of WD-40 Company was really a highlight.  It’s so helpful to hear about a leader who really “gets it” and brings leadership lessons to life in his organization.  The success of this organization that according to Garry, “sells oil in a can” is proof that great leadership is in the best interest of the organization as well as its employees.

The link to Garry’s book, written with Ken Blanchard is here:


A quick take home would be that Garry rejects that standard process of performance management (you know the drill… we fill out forms and give people grades so that bonuses can be paid) in favour of something quite simple and powerful:

  • The only PM form is the one individuals write about themselves – documenting their performance goals for the year.
  • Managers (called “Coaches”) review these goals with their people at least every 90 days.  That’s their job!
  • There are no bonuses – they are called “Earned Incentive Payments” because they are the direct result of the employee’s efforts.
  • People are not reprimanded for mistakes.  There are no mistakes, only “Learning Moments”.

“A Learning Moment is a positive or negative outcome that is worth sharing with others for their benefit.” 

Garry Ridge, CEO, WD-40 Company