If you had to dig deep into your heart and deep into your history to the place you have your mistakes hiding, to the place you put things when you do not want to remember, what would you tell me were the biggest leadership mistakes you ever made?
Were they people-related? So were mine.
The biggest leadership mistakes I have made can be very simply broken down into 2 categories:
- Hiring people I should not have hired.
- Firing people I should not have fired.
We have all made mistakes in our careers. The good news is that we can recover from them if we are open and are willing to adapt and evolve as a leader. Here are my 4 Tips for you!
Whether you are having good times or difficult times in your career, you should look in the mirror. Don’t point at others, even if they are in the wrong. Search for ways you can be better. I like suggesting leaders do a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis on themselves. And then have their direct reports do the same report on the leader. Compare them! Be willing to admit that you can learn and improve yourself!
And keep in mind it’s not just about you. It’s about you developing the associates in your company too. That’s why I call my quarterly reviews – HDOs. It stands for Hopes, Dreams, and Objectives. I want them to tell me their hopes and dreams so that I can help them achieve them! And just the title alone sets the tone that you are going to be a different leader. One who cares and supports your people. I want our interactions to be inspirational. And the funny thing is that my Directors and VPs started using the same process with their teams without me even requesting it. They just started doing it – which was awesome!
Your team is watching you. They want you to inspire them! Yes, that team that YOU put together. They have run through the wall for you so that the company can succeed! That team is watching you and taking their cues from you. Accept this responsibility and be courageous!
”As I look back at the various teams I have been honored to lead, I found a common thread:
That when I lead with passion and share my feelings and my heart, my teams perform best!”
Listen to Your Family’s advice.
No one knows you as well as your family. They are close to you, your past, your dreams, your strengths, your weaknesses, your values, your aspirations, and they can help you with advice.
You might be thinking ‘Gary, having a family has nothing to do with being a great CEO!’ But that is what makes The Growth Cube so unique. This is my own view after successfully walking in your shoes as CEO. I am giving you my perspective and I know this is delicate ground – but I do believe that ‘family’ can impact a CEO’s success. Building a strong family can make a CEO stronger because you have this ‘team’ that lives with you – they know you and are honest with you – unlike any others could be. The family unit can make you stronger, and deeper, and more well-rounded and balanced, and more sensitive to family issues at work – there are so many benefits!
Take Control of Your Responsibility
The moment you relinquish control of your unit to someone above you, this is the beginning of the end for you. You have to take control of what you are responsible for. I know to some extent your boss impacts this, but in the end it really has nothing to do with your boss. It has to do with you and if you can manage through this challenge!
I have been able to successfully progress my career from manager to director to VP to president and then to CEO. And along the way, I have had the learning experience of both great bosses and bosses that weren’t so great. I can tell you this: if you get a boss that you are in synch with, hold onto it and relish it. It is special. You know what I mean by synch, don’t you? It is that feeling that you can be totally you, totally honest, and that you have each other’s trust, respect, and support. There is nothing like that feeling. No matter what the relationship is with your boss, as a leader, you have to take control of your responsibility and exhibit that to your boss and the organization. Take charge. You were hired and put into a leadership position for a reason. Do what you were hired to do!
“You will never do anything in this world without courage. It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honor.”
Stand for Something Personally – BEYOND CEO
I know sometimes we want to separate our personal and professional lives, and there can be good reasons for this. However, you should not be two different people. You are the same person. I believe that if your people get to know the real you, to see and feel your heart, that overall they will love your authenticity and you showing your human side to them!
Is it possible to have faith and show that as the CEO? I have always been trained that you should separate your faith from your work, and I have been very careful throughout my career about openly talking about my faith. As my faith grew stronger, I struggled with this – being one way at home, and holding my values back at work. And exactly how should I properly let that show at work?
I do not go out of my way to talk about my religious commitment at work or even socially. But it comes out. It is part of me. I am not afraid to talk about being faithful, following God, or giving advice to others. I buy religions cards for people, I talk about my involvement in my church. And despite my human mistakes and weaknesses, I try to set a positive example; a road to follow. Someone that younger people can look up to and say, ‘I can see that God is working through Gary and I want some of that!’
“Do you have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.”
The bottom line is this: We as leaders have already faced victories and failures in our career, and there will be more of both in the future. Your ability to see yourself through it all has brought you to this point. The Growth Cube concepts can take you beyond that and push you closer to the top. If you can succeed in your business while also keeping your values and faith intact, your family together, and your team proud of you as their leader, you can accomplish something you might not have readily thought was possible – you will positively change your life!