Step 2: If you want to be successful, don’t ever, ever be bigger than your front line.

Donald says he’d been with Walmart just four months, heading up the Bentonville, AR, behemoth’s expansion of its Super Centers, when founder Sam Walton died.

“Three days before he died, he called me into his office and told me: ‘You’ll always know what is going on with your business if you pay attention and listen to what your front line is saying.’” He says Walton strived to keep in touch with his “front line,” to learn their concerns and stay abreast of trends; so should every good leader.

Step 3: Go where you have never been before. “In order to make the numbers dance,” Donald says, “you can’t do it the old status-quo way. You need to go to the environment and the people you want to make dance.”

Donald considers GE’s former executive Jack Welch as the 1990s CEO of the decade. “He had a saying for his management team. He said ‘every minute you’re in your office, you’re useless,’ which meant get out and see what’s going on. What leaders need to understand is that if you want to make the numbers dance, you can’t do it in the same old status-quo way. Leaders go to the environment and the people they’re trying to make dance because people are more comfortable in their own environment.”

Stevens says Haggen Foods exemplified this by “going deep” into variety.

“We were a Choice and Select shop and we decided we needed to promote Prime on a regular basis. We got into Kobe beef; we did organic and natural. It was obviously a risk, but it provided our customers with more well-rounded offerings. We, along with Agri Beef, also partnered with food banks; we matched funds and contributed beef to local and regional food banks; we got active in the community,” Stevens says.