Six years ago I gave up my role as CEO of a middle market company. Almost three years ago, I finally gave up the reins as the full-time chairman. Today, I am a consulting partner at Simon Associates Management Consultants. However, I still sit on the board of my old company.
What makes a good leader?
Last week, I visited the offices of the company I helped found. I went there for a meeting with our new CEO. I saw many people that worked in the organization when I ran the shop, and they were excited to see me and to chat. I thought that was a pretty good homecoming for someone who has not been around for some time. And I would like to think that their interest in talking to me was genuine.
But how come? Was it because I was dynamic? Because I was the life of the party? Because I was the smartest? While I would like to tickle my own ego and say that was all true, I am more realistic. I have been pondering this and this is what I think:
6 things to keep in mind when it’s your name on the door
1. It’s about your management philosophy. There are two ways to manage. One is by barking orders from the top down. Intimidating people…demanding obedience and creating an atmosphere of fear. It’s easy to recognize that person. He or she is always sitting at the head of the table and his or her body language shows that they are “the boss.”
Or, it’s about the person who is comfortable in his or her own skin. Someone who doesn’t have to bark orders, who understands the business, who is willing to listen to other points of view, and who is even willing to change his or her position based upon input of new knowledge. The door is always open and people are not afraid to express their views, irrespective of stated opinion.
2. It’s about walking the operations floor. As Tom Peters says, “managing by walking about.” Identifying problems and potential problems by actually observing them (as opposed to receiving third party input). It’s about talking to the people who do the heavy lifting and getting the real input directly…not via other sources.
3. It’s about learning a little about the personal lives of your employees and understanding that their families are really important. We do spend more time at work than anyplace else, so interpersonal skills are important. And family counts!
4. It’s about commitment and passion. Employees understand when leadership bleeds. When you fake it, or are just going through the motions, people see that and don’t think well of it.
5. It’s about honesty. People know when they have been BS-ed. If you don’t have the answer, just say so…if you don’t want to answer a question, tell people you would rather not say.
6. It’s about treating people with respect. I always believe that regardless of your position in the organization, you want to treat people the same way you wish to be treated.
So there we are. Quite frankly, it was nice to be back. Nice to feel appreciated and nice to think about what made our organization and our people great. People do remember, and visiting my former shop was a validation of how to manage.
To learn how to build a solid, meaningful relationship with your company, please contact me. I’d love to talk with you!