Leaders have an opportunity and an obligation to add value to their teams and organizations. Size of the organization is irrelevant––a leader is there to “raise the tide so all boats float higher”. When that happens, employees are challenged, feel valued, and are more productive, more innovative and more likely to help the company achieve success.
Leaders who add real value to their organizations incorporate beliefs and behaviors into their daily routine such as those listed below. These characteristics–or the lack of them–are part of the GrowthDNA of the organization. For even more ways a leader can add value, click here and learn about organizational GrowthDNA.
- Be a leader. Sounds simple, but if it was, our economy would be in a different place. When faced with complexity and chaos, we have a tendency to fall back into comfort zones. That may mean working harder in the functional areas that we are most familiar with, tracking day to day progress or fighting fires. It makes us feel productive, but it doesn’t move the business forward. As a leader, if you are not focusing on the future of the company, where it is going and how it is going to get there, who is?
- Hire the right people. The companies we admire, who do well in bad times as well as good, hire the right people. Brett Blair, owner of Sanford Rose Associates in Michigan, will confirm that finding the right candidate is too important to take lightly. It starts with very clear requirements and a strong emphasis on matching values to the company culture. How do you know if you have the right people? Many companies like Zappos and Southwest Air have unique hiring processes that support their cultural norms. Zappos tries to hire the best, trains them for two weeks and then offers them $2,000 to leave! They want commitment. Many successful companies will tell you that prior industry experience is not only less important than skills and style, but in some cases (like a bank that is trying to be less “banky”), a hindrance.
- Positive attitude. How do leaders expect their associates to come to work ever day and be productive if they don’t know if they will have a job tomorrow? A leader not only has to have a “great day” every day while at work, but they also offer hope. Rick Frost, CEO of LP Construction says, “giving employees hope means that they can focus on their work, not worry about their immediate future.” Most companies that come out of recessions successfully do not have a major layoff or repeated ones, but focus on productivity improvements that drop margin to the bottom line and leave employees knowing where they stand.
- Be transparent. A leader needs to lead with consistency. How they make decisions, the values they cherish, the expectations they hold have to be known to employees if they are expected to excel.
- Develop people. As Joe Scarlett, founder of the Scarlett Leadership Institute will tell you, the sure fire way to success is having great talent around you. As a leader, your job is to let them shine. Many successful leaders make a point of hiring people smarter than they are with a different perspective that challenges them, and all agree they don’t want “yes men” on staff. By developing people in your organization to this level of greatness, the organization becomes great. This is one of the key principles in Jim Collins’ book, Good to Great. It is about getting the “right seats on the bus.”
- Have a vision. A leader’s job is to lead. Thus, there must be a place in mind that you are journeying to. Be sure that vision is shared, clear, and memorable. Repeat it often, reward those who are moving the company that direction, and as a team, you will get there faster than you think.
If a leader is spending their time on these pursuits, the employees win and, of course, so does the company. Any organization is as strong as its weakest link––as a leader, shore up the links and you shore up the company. Stay focused on these important tasks, as you are the only one who can. If you do, you will add significant value to your company.