5 Leadership Lessons I Learned from A Billionaire Investor: Ray Dalio

StrategyDriven Management and Leadership Article | 5 Leadership Lessons I Learned from A Billionaire Investor: Ray DalioThe name of hedge fund billionaire Raymond Dalio triggers emotions of adoration, admiration, and even dislike. That’s the effect success has on people. You do not climb your way up without meeting people who have mixed feelings about you. This should not deter you, and if anything, it should motivate you to be a better version of yourself.

The success, and sometimes, failures of Dalio has made him an inspiration to many. He is on record for saying we make millions of decisions during the course of our lifetime. These decisions, or the logic behind them, determine the quality of lives we lead. While many of us are afraid of failure, Dalio fears mediocrity and boredom.

These are the hallmarks of a true leader, be it in business or politics.

Born in 1949, the American investor, philanthropist, and hedge fund manager is the founder, Co-Chief Investment Officer, and Co-Chairman of Bridgewater Associates, one of the world’s leading hedge funds with a more than $130 billion in assets under management.

With a net worth of $18.7 billion, Dalio started investing at the age of 12 and his life has revolved around finance. There is no doubt that he has lot to teach people and you can learn to be a better leader by imitating how he has managed the investment firm he launched from his apartment in 1975, around the same time that Bill Gates and Steve Jobs founded their tech companies.

Here are five leadership lessons that you can learn from Dalio.

1. Hire people who are better than you

The self-made billionaire is a firm believer in the importance of the people you hire for your business. After many decades of hiring, grooming, and firing people, Dalio says one of the best decisions you can ever make as a business leader is hiring someone who is better than you.

The key to this is the ability to recognize talented employees who bring a particular skill set on the table. This means that if you have people on your team that can perform a certain task better than you, it takes away the need to micromanage them.

This has two advantages. It gives you much time and room to focus on the bigger picture of managing your business. You can spend more time growing the business instead of fulfilling tasks that can otherwise be done by your employees. Secondly, employees are more productive when they are left to their jobs with little to no micro-management.

Real leaders know how to choose the members of their team.

2. No harm in making mistakes

Mistakes are a part of life and there should be no shame in making them once in a while. However, Dalio points out that not correcting them is a big mistake. You have probably heard making the same twice is a choice because you have an opportunity to correct it.

A mistake needs to be identified, analyzed, and lessons learned to prevent the same thing from happening again in the future. A common issue that many organizations face is the lack of courage to personalize mistakes, but more often, generalize them.

At one time in the early 1990s, Ross Waller, the head of trading at the time forgot to place a trade and cost the company some money. Dalio did not fire Waller but instead created a management tool to deal with mistakes and errors.

Dalio learned from the experience that people deserve second chances. He also capitalized on the mistake to develop new methods that can be used to achieve desired goals.

3. Be open-minded

Open-mindedness is one of Dalio’s important lesson yet the hardest. Being open-minded goes hand-in-hand with the ability to evolve fast and learn new things quickly. Some of the techniques that go a long way in helping you to be open-minded are:

  • Feedback – try to get as much feedback as you can especially from other successful people that are not in your immediate circle of mentors.
  • Spend around 90 percent of your time on what you don’t know and the remainder putting what you know to good use.
  • Be an avid reader and on the lookout for new ideas.
  • Listen to people who don’t disagree with you.

4. Taking risks with humility

Dalio became popular in the early 1980s when he pointed out that American banks were overloading Latin American countries with debt. He was proved right when Mexico’s president announced that his country was not able to repay its debt amounting to $80 billion.

He became the go-to person on financial issues. Analysts and the U.S. Congress sought his advice on what would happen next. He predicted that the American economy was headed towards a downturn.

It didn’t happen. In fact, the opposite happened. Stocks went up and the U.S. economy was in a bull market. Dalio was wrong and lost money for his clients. He had to borrow money from his father to pay the bills.

After recovering, he realized that he was not going to stop taking risks, but was going to do so with humility and a changed mindset. He became more open-minded and diversified his portfolio. He has tried to maintain a perfect balance between what he knows and doesn’t.

5. Don’t build walls in your company

One of the biggest mistakes that companies make is personalizing their departments so much that the employees are isolated from each other.

Dalio suggests that employees should be allowed to mingle as much as they can in order to share knowledge and motivate each other to perform their jobs better. Having no walls allows team members to bond and increase productivity when they work together on projects.

This does not literally mean that companies have to break down walls and have an open office space. It’s all about encouraging communication amongst employees and possibly having an open-door policy where employees can feel comfortable approaching each other with their problems.

Conclusion

One of the traits of intelligent people is learning from the experiences of others. Whether it’s value investing in Singapore or learning a new language, it makes sense to learn from those that have traveled the journey before you.

The investment world is filled with successful figures such as Dalio, Warren Buffett, George Soros, and more. They have made a few mistakes along the way. We should learn from them. These great leaders also teach us what it takes to be a great leader. There is no shame in copying what is right and noble.

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