This blog series is comprised of lessons from growth minded leaders—the result of dozens of CEO Interviews from the famous to the obscure—but all successful.
This is the fifth and last article in our five-part series exploring how great executives grow their companies. In the first, we saw how leadership vision paved the way to achieving growth. Then, we looked at the importance of valuing and coaching employees. We looked at the difference between leading and micro-managing, and the importance of consistency.
Today, we are looking at how to get our employees moving together toward our vision and higher performance by sharing the company’s values with everyone so everyone moves as one, and sharing the win, which means acknowledging that reaching the organization’s goals depends on everyone incorporating those values into their own jobs.
Successful leaders believe they have to embed the values of the company in everything they do. The company values need to be well-defined, easily observed, and consistently deployed. That doesn’t happen casually. A company can have a purposeful culture, one that is nurtured and shaped by company leaders, or a default culture, the kind that emerges from who shows up to the office and has the most influence. A default culture is usually vague and open to interpretation. The leaders I spoke with didn’t leave room for uncertainty.
Louisiana Pacific Construction: Clarity of Values
In his interview, Rick Frost, CEO of Louisiana Pacific Construction told us he has six key values that are core to his company’s success. He quotes Eisenhower when he says, “Leadership is about getting people to do what you want them to do because they want to do it.”
He was also influenced by a mentor who said “If you can’t articulate it, you can’t understand it.” Frost went on to explain that he figured out what was important to him, what he would lose his job over and what he wouldn’t. Frost said, “That level of clarity of values provides predictability and consistency, and people know what they can expect from you and what you expect from others. I refer to it as ‘principal-based leadership’. It provides consistency in decision-making and manages others’ expectations. In every management decision we make, we ask the question ‘What is the senior notion’? It eliminates decisions of convenience and creates an environment of predictability.”
Frost went on to share how he exemplified this leadership style upon becoming CEO. “The first day in this role I gave my team a piece of paper. It was entitled ‘How I want to be and how I don’t want to be’. I explained that whether or not I was successful in living up to it was up to them. Bad leaders get caught up in smoking their own exhaust. If you stay in this job too long, you may think you are a bit better than you are; it is too easy to get caught up in it. If I started acting differently, I asked them to walk into my office with that piece of paper and tell me I am not living up to my values. The paper is their protection. And yes, I have had several people use it as well as some tell me they have stayed because they don’t believe any other boss would do that. It keeps me humble. Self knowledge is the most important thing you can have, but you can’t see it, and it is easy to slip, so don’t get heavily invested in undesirable behavior before you figure it out and pull back. Lead by example.”
UMB: Check Your Ego at the Door
Peter deSilva, recent COO of UMB, said it this way, “Check your ego at the door.” Winning is not about the leader, it is about the rest of the organization. When the organization is working together with the same values, the results will also be consistent with those values.
The Tennessee Bun Company: Team First
Another key value shared by many of our leaders is the concept of team first. As Cordia Harrington, founder, owner and CEO of The Tennessee Bun Company says, “Share the Win.” Remember you are all in it together and while you may have crafted the vision, the team achieved it together.
As Tim Corbin, Head Coach of the Vanderbilt Baseball team will tell you, the best talent doesn’t win games, the best team does. By showing employees the difference they make, John Cerasulo of ADS Security has created an award-winning team. Even their own industry (Security Distributing and Marketing) labels ADS Security as “Superstars of Service” honoring them as SDM’s 2014 Dealer of the Year. They also received the Best Customer Service Excellence award in the Besthomesecuritycompanys.com 2014 “Besty” awards. Read more about that here: https://breakthroughmaster.com/2015/02/customer-service-superstars/.
Articulate your values, and Share the Win
What are the values you are committed to? How well have you articulated them to everyone in the organization? How do you reinforce these values on a regular basis? Having clear values creates alignment in an organization, which in turn leads to higher productivity–an essential in the growth journey.