Simply stated, Leadership means to lead. Yet how many of us take time to examine how we lead? Is our mindset, “do as I say, not as I do?” Or do we “lead by example?”
Building or maintaining a company culture of excellence requires an understanding of the importance of following SOP’s, or communicating through the proper channels. To achieve excellence within the organization requires an implicit understanding among all team members of the corporate expectations that are built on creating a legacy of trust, timeliness, credibility, and more.
I have experienced examples of poor leadership style throughout my career. I was in a company some years back whose president would routinely roll in after lunch. It didn’t matter that he may have worked for hours into the evening. The image the team had was, “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.” Why should I fight traffic to be at work on time when he gets to sleep late.
On the flip side, I had a CEO that had many traits of a good leader. He wouldn’t hesitate to get down in the trenches to show others he wasn’t afraid to work alongside warehouse workers, buyers, or salespeople to show proper procedures, or even help out when business was extremely hectic. In that respect, he set great examples. But the same leader had a double standard of treating employees by very different criteria. His annual reviews for salary and bonus were very inconsistent, and often didn’t reward those that performed better than others who were friends or family. All of his great leadership attributes were overshadowed by the few habits that were viewed very poorly by the team.
So what is the expectation we set for ourselves? Is it never acceptable to take shortcuts and not follow the policies we set for our team? Of course it’s ok to take a quicker route when it doesn’t affect what your employees see and follow as examples. Experience should guide our decisions on when to take a shortcut to get a quick answer or action as long as everyone understands the reason for the diversion from policies. Along that same philosophy, we should coach our managers to make the same correct choices when a quick decision needs to be made, but with the understanding that shortcuts are seen by all. If the expectation is that if any process is deemed critical enough that processes need to be followed every time, then the action you take on similar decisions should be held to the same standard.
There are times when all of us need to slow down, take a deep breath, and reflect on how we are approaching our own actions with respect to the expectations we have of our team. This is what leadership is all about. This will set the tone for building a great corporate culture.
Taking time to write these letters has been the best counseling to help me to become better at what I do to run a business. I hope my thoughts will give you better insight on how to be a more effective leader.
I’ll close by committing to do a better job of leading my team so that they will hopefully do a better job with their daily interactions. I wish you all Happy St Patrick’s Day and I’ll raise a toast to your health and for success in your business this year!
Until next time,