What’s the most important decision a company makes?
While each of these is important, none of them is the most important question a company should ask. It’s not even the second most important decision a company can make.
By far, the most important decision a company makes is who to hire. Each and every employee who joins the company makes the organization either a little better or a little worse. He or she can be an ambassador thus attracting more talent or can be toxic and push current employees out the door. So inviting new employees to join the organization is of utmost importance.
The second most important decision – ahead of new plants, new products, new services, new office space, new policies, and hundreds of other decisions – is who to promote into a management position.
Why such an emphasis on who becomes a manager? Because, as the saying goes, no one quits a company; they quit a boss.
Managers, particularly frontline managers, wield influence over other employees. These supervisors are responsible for the performance and engagement of multiple employees so the organizational impact these leaders have is significant. Choosing the right people to manage other employees is therefore elevated to silver medal status on the decision-making podium.
Is there a key element in choosing first-time supervisors and promoting supervisors to ever-higher authority levels? Yes! And it can be found in one word:
That’s what makes for a good manager — the ability to connect with others.
When I work with organizations, I’m amazed at some of the managers I meet. They don’t smile. They don’t talk much. When they do talk, it’s more of a mumble. And that’s just during introductions!
When we begin talking about management, it’s clear they don’t have good interpersonal skills which most often results in poor performance for both the team and the supervisor. I’ve even come across one manager who flat out said, “I really just don’t like people.”
Liking people and having the ability to connect on a personal level is the most important factor in being an effective manager. Legendary Packers coach Vince Lombardi understood this. Yes, he was a very demanding “boss” and had high expectations from his “workers.” Yet he also cared for them deeply and expected the team to care for each other.
Author Michael Lee Stallard stated it this way in a September 2014 blog entry: "Vince Lombardi had a passion for relationship excellence too. He loved his players. He told them they must love one another and said love made the difference on their team.”
That idea of loving your teammates can be found in the report Future Work Skills 2020. This research points to Social Intelligence as being one of ten key skills required for business success:
Social Intelligence: the ability to connect to others in a deep and direct way, to sense and stimulate reactions and desired interactions.
Organizations must move away from promoting people simply based on things like individual performance or tenure. Certainly these items are part of the promotion equation but the overriding selection criteria is the people factor. An effective manager is someone who is both likable and who likes other people. Key to an organization's success, then, is finding those supervisors who deeply care for the people in their charge.
As Simon Sinek once said: "How management chooses to treat its people impacts everything -- for better or for worse."
What do you think? Agree? Or is there a different #1 factor for supervisor success?
I love my wife. That’s one reason we’ve stayed married over 30 years. We love watching movies, traveling, and cooking together (she is most certainly the cook, I just stir when she tells me).
I also appreciate my wife. I appreciate the way she decorates the house and makes it feel “homey.” I appreciate how she keeps the house running by balancing our family finances. And I appreciate how she keeps me informed about family and friends by reading me Facebook posts.
And I value my wife. The thing I value most is how she makes me a better me. She keeps me looking good through her great sense of fashion, helps me find the right words to difficult conversations, and regularly offers advice on my speaking business. While I may not always treat her like the treasure she is, I value and cherish her beyond words.
So what’s the difference between the three? Is one more important than the other? Do I really need all three for a successful marriage? Let’s start this brief exploration with a few definitions:
Love: To have a profoundly tender, passionate affection for.
Appreciate: To be grateful or thankful for; to be fully conscious or aware of.
Value: Consider someone or something to be important or beneficial; have a high opinion of.
In simpler terms, love is about an emotional connection, appreciation is thankfulness, and value reflects importance and worth.
So, yes, for a successful marriage, I would say all three are needed. And it’s all three that helped Pat and me celebrate 31 years last November.
But what about the corporate world? Do leaders need these three characteristics to be effective? As in marriage, I would say yes.
Let’s start with love. Not to sound too soft or mushy, but I’m convinced that a love for people is required for positive, effective leadership. I’m not talking about a passionate love one has for a spouse or a child but a love based on friendship. Plato and Aristotle talked about philia love which is reflected in shared goodwill. It’s a love that wants to connect with people on a real basis and wants to see others succeed.
Next is appreciation which is about gratitude. Being thankful for the work a colleague or direct report does and for the results they bring to the team. Key here is actually expressing that thankfulness with words.
Which brings us to Value, an emotion or characteristic that is (sadly) rarely shared. Valuing teammates or direct reports is about acknowledging a person’s worth, their gifts, and how they make the team better.
This is especially true for people who are different from ourselves. For example, I’m a pretty loud person. And I’m funny — at least I think so. And if there was a team full of me’s, we would have a blast! It would be a constant party! Can’t promise how much work we’d accomplish but we’d have fun trying.
For me to be my best and for my team to be its best, I need someone on my team who is a little quieter and someone who is a little more serious. I need that person to tap me on the arm during a meeting and say, “Hey, let’s be serious for a minute.”
By that same token, the quiet person needs me, the person who craves conversation and banter. That quiet person needs me to say, “Hey, we’ve heard from everyone but you and your opinion is important. Let’s hear it.”
You see, together, that quiet, serious person makes me a better me. And the loud, lighthearted person I am can bring out some of the same in that quiet, serious person. And together, we’ll do great work!
I need that person! I value that person for how they challenge me and make me better. And how they make the team better!
I’m convinced leaders need all three emotions in order to build a high-performance team. Organizations can also have an impact on performance and engagement by building cultures that revolve around fostering relationships, recognition, and valuing people for the unique individuals they are.
But how? Can an organization really build a culture that revolves around these three critical characteristics? Absolutely! And we’ll explore that next month!
Happy New Year! I hope you are ready to jump into 2019 after enjoying a fantastic holiday season with family and friends.
Have you made your New Year’s resolutions yet? I have. Yes, I’m losing weight and exercising more (Day 9 and still going strong!). I’ve committed to reading more books this year. I'm currently reading Brené Brown's recently released dare to lead. After that, The Mind of The Leader by Rasmus Hougaard and Jacqueline Carter. I'm also going to attempt a resolution that I made last year but didn't complete, write another book -- or at least complete the first draft.
I’m also committing myself to being a better boss in 2019. I don't think I'm a bad boss now (and I hope my team agrees!). Since I'm a student of leadership and management and have facilitated countless workshops that revolve around the idea of being an effective supervisor, I better be a good boss!
So I know how to be a great boss. Like most (all?) people, though, I occasionally do something that puts me on the “Bad Boss” list. When that happens, I apologize to my team and get back on the “Good Boss” list as quickly as possible.
So how will I spend more time on that Good list? I’ll start by making these 10 Best Boss Resolutions for 2019:
Resolution #1: I will show appreciation for my team daily.
Resolution #2: I will answer emails and phone calls from me team by the end of the business day or first thing the next morning.
Resolution #3: I will be transparent in my communication and will truly have an “open door” policy.
Resolution #4: I will accept responsibility rather than blame others for results.
Resolution #5: I will give credit for success to others rather then take credit myself.
Resolution #6: I will seek permission to lead rather than manage by authority.
Resolution #7: I will seek opportunities to build trust with my team and avoid breaking that trust.
Resolution #8: I will truly listen and be fully present during discussions.
Resolution #9: I will demonstrate CARE for my team – Credibility, Appreciation, Reliability, Empathy.
Resolution #10: I will work exhaustively to help my team find success and gratification at work.
Of course, these aren’t the only things I will do. Being a better boss takes constant vigilance and effort. So please allow me to add one more . . .
Resolution #11: I commit to constantly looking for new ways of being a great boss.
If I’m successful in making these 11 resolutions part of my daily leadership walk, I’m confident my team will enjoy a fantastic year.
What about you? What will you do? Will you join me in committing to being a better boss in 2019?
Our values should guide every conversation, decision, and interaction. Our values should anchor every product and service we provide and every channel we operate. If we can’t link what we do to one of our values, we should ask ourselves why we’re doing it. It’s that simple.
We have five primary values that are based on our vision and provide the foundation for everything we do:
The above verbiage sounds great, doesn’t it? These are values of a major U.S. bank in support of their vision: “We want to satisfy our customers’ financial needs and help them succeed financially.” Who wouldn’t want to work for or do business with a company that believes this?
Sadly, the above words, taken directly from the Wells Fargo website, mean absolutely nothing. A slow-burning scandal that took place for years, low-level bank employees siphoned money from customers and opened bogus accounts and cards using current customers’ personal information, all to meet sales quotas and get sales bonuses. Obviously, this bank’s belief in ethics and customers was simply rhetoric.
In the end, Wells Fargo customers lost money and 5,300 bank employees lost their jobs. One of those employees was Carrie Tolstedt, the senior executive in charge of Wells Fargo’s branches. Amazingly, even though arguably she was the senior executive in charge of the fraudulent scheme, she was able to walk away with a $125 million bonus!
How can this happen? How can a company that espouses the customer and ethics have such widespread fraud? I believe it’s a lack of accountability and a lack of leadership.
I’m confident that if you asked Wells Fargo employees, “What are Wells’ values and how do you live them?” you would get blank stares in return. In fact, asking employees to simply recite the values would be met with that same blank response. Obviously, no one at Wells Fargo was asking employees to name and live out their values. To Wells Fargo employees, those values were simply a nice plaque that hung on the bank branch walls.
While all employees are responsible for living out the corporate values, the person who should live out those values more than anyone is the top leader, in this case Wells Fargo’s CEO John Stumpf. Even when announcing Tolstedt’s departure, he complimented her for being “a champion for our customers.” Apparently, employees, ethics, and customers were just words on a wall for Mr. Stumpf as well.
So how can organizations avoid Wells Fargo’s situation? By openly talking about corporate values, by practicing those values daily, and by having a leadership team that models those values. If you aren’t putting deliberate effort against those values, they will not become ingrained in everyday behaviors and actions.
But what about your company and your leadership? What if your leaders refuse to live out the corporate values? First, you have a choice to make. Do you stay or go? Do you remain with your current organization where “gutless leadership,” a term used to describe Mr. Stumpf’s governance, could lead the entire organization down a very wrong path? Or do you find another organization where leadership believes in and lives out their values?
Second, and most importantly, think about your own actions. Regardless of how leadership and everyone around you behave, you can be true to your corporate values. With every action, decision, and conversation, you have an opportunity to align with your organization’s mission and values.
So hold yourself accountable to making your organization’s values ring true. Doing so will most likely help you engage more with your work and your colleagues, ultimately finding greater job success and satisfaction.
Do you have any corporate values stories, either good or bad? Please share and start a conversation!
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