Author and business consultant Brother Ritch K. Eich, Sacramento State ’66, recently released a new book, Leadership Requires Extra Innings, sharing personal stories on leadership. After a lifetime of experience in leadership, he said he wanted to do more than share his stories – he wanted to give back to the causes he believes in.
“The book’s proceeds will all go toward scholarships for deserving students, selected by the Jackie Robinson Foundation,” he said. “Jackie was my childhood hero.”
In this Q&A, The SigEp Blog interviews Brother Eich about his new book, his story and his decision to give back.
The SigEp Blog: What led you to writing this second book about effective leadership?
Eich: As early as I can remember, I have always been fascinated by what enables some organizations to be remarkably successful and others not. I’ve been a C-suite executive, a military officer in command of three navy units, a university adjunct professor, a hospital administrator, a consultant, a columnist, and author of two leadership books. Along the way, I’ve crossed paths with or worked for a “who’s who” of world-class leaders in both the public and private sectors.
SB: What unique lessons does your book present?
Eich: In my first book, Real Leaders Don’t Boss (Career Press, 2012), I presented the Eight Essentials of Effective Leadership. My new book is a series of essays I’ve written that span my time with CEOs like Domino’s Pizza founder Tom Monaghan, Chelsea Milling (“Jiffy Mix”) CEO Howard Holmes, CEO of the nationwide drugstore chain Charles Walgreen Jr., U.S. Navy Memorial founding president Admiral Bill Thompson, and many more. The lessons are practical, easily digested and applicable to any organizational setting, irrespective of its size or purpose.
SB: What made you decide to donate the proceeds of your two books?
I was raised by my parents to volunteer, to donate, to serve and to help in other ways to those in need, to those less fortunate. Many people have helped me in sports, in my fraternity, in college, the navy and throughout my career. I strongly believe it is better to give than to receive.
SB: How would you describe SigEp’s impact on your own leadership development?
Eich: One word answers this question: Significant. I joined Cal Theta as a sophomore while playing varsity tennis for our conference champion team. During my four years as an undergraduate, SigEp led the campus in academics, campus student government and athletics. I assumed a variety of leadership roles, learned a great deal about my strengths and areas of lesser strength, and began to work on the latter. I also learned from my brothers.
SB: Tell us a little about your career.
Eich: I’ve been fortunate to have great parents and a brother (Cal Berkeley, BA and MBA) who emphasized the importance of a college education and hard work. As a student, I worked cleaning the campus, and was extremely graced by having wonderful teacher-mentors, people who took the time to point me in the right direction and whose values and ethics were top-drawer. As management guru Peter Drucker has said: “Leaders must be teachers.”
SB: Why do you think leadership skills are important today?
Eich: Real leaders are too rare in today’s hyper-speed, financially driven world. In their places are too many fast-track wannabes and imposters, intent on instant gratification in the form of quick (and often unsustainable) bottom-line results. These pseudo-leaders flaunt rigid controls instead of passionate leadership and drive employees through dominance rather than devotion. In part, today’s struggling corporate performance, as well as the trend toward great distrust and dissatisfaction in the workplace, reflect these shortcomings in leadership.
SB: Any final lessons you’d like to share?
Eich: For a small town boy like me from Marysville, Calif. to achieve what I’ve had is the direct result of others who took the time to show me by example how to live, how to work and how to help others. I’ve learned that no matter what role one has, you must always look behind you and pull up others so they have opportunities to achieve their potential.
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