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 second of a five-part series on what great companies do to grow. Last week, we looked at the impact of a leader’s vision on growth (missed it?  Read the post on leadership vision ).  This week we are looking at coaching, and how great CEOs view the nurturing of their people.  One thing universally believed by all of the CEO’s I interviewed is that people are their more powerful resource—and it is not lip service. These CEO’s function as coaches, eliciting the best performance from their people.

Build-a Bear: Recognize Individual and Team Success

Maxine Clark of BUILD-A-BEAR, in a 2010 interview, told us that she believes that the more fun people have, the harder they will work. The Build-a-Bear culture encourages contribution and collaboration, and the company feels it is critical to encourage communication, creativity and strong store performance.  Build-a Bear is committed to training and recognizing individual accomplishment as well as team success.

ADS Security: Empower Employees

John Cerasulo, CEO of ADS Security, has found that if you help them believe they can do more than they thought they could, they will. Creating that sense of accomplishment not only adds value to the business but escalates employee performance as it reinforces their confidence and encourages them to proactively participate in the business. See how John has used that idea to achieve industry-wide accolades for customer service in this article: https://breakthroughmaster.com/2015/02/customer-service-superstars/

Southwest Airlines: Happy Employees Make Happy Customers

Some of the companies I admire the most, including Southwest Airlines, acknowledge that their employees are more important than their customers; without happy employees, these companies don’t believe they can have truly happy customers. Southwest Airlines believes that the path to having happy employees comes from hiring the right people, rather than by trying to make unhappy people happy. Who are the right people? People who can fulfill their vision— to become the world’s most loved, most flown, and most profitable airline–and their mission—-to deliver the highest quality of Customer Service with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit.

Chick-fil-A: Start with the Right People

Dan Cathy of Chick-fil-A speaks of hiring the right people. Chick-fil-A mostly hires hourly workers but they are very picky about which people they hire. They look for high school leaders and athletes who have a history of performance and achievement. They may have to pay a little more and work around schedules of these high performing people, but they know that if you start with the right people, achieving higher performance is a bit easier.

Fred Pryor Seminars: Coach the Young People on the Team

Fred Pryor of Fred Pryor Seminars believes that effective leaders take the time to coach the young people on the team. If you are heading up an expanding company you must have bench strength. What does a coach do?

  • Define the culture and the behaviors that support it
  • Identify the profiles of the people you are looking for
  • Develop a screening process that is unique to your needs
  • Stick to your guns and hire smart not fast
  • Have a cultural indoctrination period so employees know what is expected of them
  • Challenge the good ones and weed out non-performers quickly
  • Communicate extensively so everyone is a part of the team
  • Charge them with the responsibility to be company ambassadors
  • Give them a company to be proud of

There is no “I” in Team

As is commonly said in the world of athletic teams, “There is no “I” in team.” And it takes a team to win in today’s fast-paced, heavily competitive environment. So turn your employees into an effective team by hiring and coaching them to execute the vision.

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