Door and Window Musings
by Tara Taffera
September 1st, 2016

Lessons from Great Leaders

If you read my article on ProVia, published in DWM’s May issue, you may recall how the company makes a concerted effort to build future leaders by pulling from its current talent pool. After attending a two-day Global Leadership Summit myself earlier this month, I couldn’t help but get energized on the topic.

I want to share some of my thoughts with you—and it’s for everyone—no matter your role in your organization. It’s not as good as being there and listening to these motivating speakers, but hopefully it gives you a glimpse and instills some renewed passion and excitement into your workplace.

First, let’s get the bad news out of the way. “Only 42 percent of employees have a positive view of their employer,” says Alan Mulally, former CEO of the Ford Motor Company.

Fortunately, there was plenty of advice on how to turn that around. First, you must motivate your employees.

“A motivated worker will outperform an unmotivated worker by 40 percent,” says Bill Hybels, author of the book Leading from Here to There. And while many people talk about how employees hate change—and many do—“Cultures are begging to be transformed,” he adds.

This transformation often means not just taking risks, but also embracing them, points out Jossy Chacko, founder and president of Empart Inc.

“See risk as your friend, and comfort and safety as your enemy,” he says.

Horst Schulze, founding president of  The Ritz Carlton Group, knows a thing or two about taking risks and how to succeed in business. He says it’s actually pretty simple.

“Whatever you produce, you have to do it better than the competition,” he says. “And you have to do it where it costs you less.” Sounds easy, right? Not really, but it’s something to which we may aspire.

He also has some simple advice that isn’t always easy to implement. “The greatest thing you can do in your business is no defects,” says Schulze.

One of the biggest things I took away from his talk was how to integrate a new employee into your organization—and when.

“On Day 1, tell an employee their destination,” says Schulze. “It has to be done on Day 1. You can still adjust their behavior on the first day—they are open! Repeat, repeat, repeat after Day 1.”

But how do you hire that perfect employee? Patrick Lencioni wrote a best-selling book on that very topic, The Ideal Team Player. They must possess three qualities: be humble, be hungry and be smart:

  • Humble. “It’s not thinking less of yourself. It’s thinking of yourself less.”
  • Hungry. “You hate the idea of anyone ever thinking you are a slacker.”
  • Smart (as in people smarts). “This is someone who goes to a meeting and knows how to act, someone who has common sense around people.”

This was another really great session and one I will definitely put into use. Lencioni’s book even offers a quiz you can give to current and future employees. If they don’t possess all three qualities,  good news — they can be trained to change their behavior.

But no one ever said that would be easy. In fact, “the hardest thing a leader will do is change someone’s behavior,” says Chris McChesney, executive at Franklin Covey and author of The 4 Disciplines of Execution. If I had to choose (and it would be a tough choice), his was my favorite session. He talked a lot about creating a compelling scoreboard at work because “people play differently when they are keeping score … The biggest engagement driver is when someone knows they are winning.”

He explained that there is a little switch in people’s minds that says, “Game on!” It’s funny, because before I wrote this column today, we were in a meeting with about five staff members and DWM editor Trey Barrineau and I literally uttered the words, “Game on.” I guess it really is true.

So if you are a leader, here’s a big question for you to ponder: “Do the people who work for you feel like they are playing a winnable game?” And for those who don’t lead but aspire for great things, are you playing for a winning team?

If you have thoughts on any of these topics, please email me or post a comment here.

Good luck this week as we all pursue our games and are either inspired or inspire others.

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