Last week we revealed a tale of Leadership Lost: A man, who dedicated his life to a cause he believed in, employed thousands and put his grandchildren’s children through college. And yet, if you walked out of college on to his team you might be met with less vision and a whole lot of limitations. It seems more and more that an idea becomes profitable and is corrupted, often unbeknownst to its creator. The artist becomes a commodity. Every great idea man: Mark Zukerberg, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs hired a yin to their yang. Every amazing young entrepreneur will tell you that the challenge is not the idea or the funding but the ability to manage a business beyond its founding principles. A 25 year old programmer does not have an MBA in Finance and a 75 year old Harvard Business School professor cannot hack into an online gaming site. In commonality, every business gets past the point of its creator’s control.
Is there anything that can be done?
When I started as a contributor to the blogosphere my goal was to bring CEO’s strategy from the trenches. No platform, training, or vendor can produce such a thing.
So Mr./Mrs./Ms. CEO remember where you were when it all started, how much it sucked, and how much you miss it:
• You cannot align your workforce with a speech
• Write a book
• Understand that you did not hire your son for a reason
Culture is a Product of Trust
Is incremental revenue as important as long term gain? Do you quit eating fried foods a week before your annual health exam? These practices produce the same results. While satisfying the board keeps the doors open, engaging your employees actually drives revenue. How are you taking the founding principles of your company and instilling your vision in a first day employee?
It takes outstanding communication, great training and empowered middle management to carry the torch from CEO to Individual Contributor.
• Produce a weekly company newsletter and activate an employee portal that encourages the following:
o Announcement of individual achievements
o A way to Thank co-workers
o Suggestion box
• Limit e-training where possible, get people together in a room and trust your line managers to carry your message. If they water down your vision or pretend metrics are more important than purposeful action – re-assign them.
The Best Way to Share Your Experience
Poor managers will often circulate a book through their teams that has no significance to your organizational cause.
The best way for a CEO to really share his/her vision is to write a book. This gives your employees full insight into what made you great and why the founding principles of the company matter to them. Employees across the world want to carry on a cause….your cause. Tell them how you got here and the legacy you wish for them to carry on.
Stop Pretending You Know Me
After college, I asked my father if he would employ me. He told me there was no way that would happen. My Dad knows far too much about me to have any confidence in my professional ability. There is a trend in HR, “how to motivate Millennials”. This trend is usually driven by a baby boomer heaping stereotypes on new hires based on the relationship they have with their children.
You are old, your leadership style is out-dated, you are stubborn, and your work ethic is not what it used to be.
~ It doesn’t feel good to hear the message above because it is misguided and untrue. The way you felt when reading the above is how Millennials feel when you characterize their motivation. We don’t want you to pretend you understand us. We want you to give us a cause that we would lay down in the street to defend and to trust us to carry it out.
In summary, the most difficult job in the world is to be a leader in a large organization. The tendency is to keep the reigns held close to your chest until you die.
Trust your people to convey that your dream is theirs to promote. Loyalty is an affect of great people doing great things for a cause they believe in. Leadership is to engage belief and to trust the eyes in which you put your vision into!
Your back will hurt less if you let us help you carry the weight!
– Dave Kovacovich