Lone Wolf Leaders Just Don't Get It.
By Dr. Rick Johnson
Wednesday, 10th February 2010
Success today is created by caring about more than profitability and growth; growth and profitability are created by employees.

Trust and respect for employees is paramount to creating success.  However, when discussing success, especially in today's economic turbulent times, I often ask clients exactly what is it that makes them different than their competitors? The answers are wide ranging and include things like:

  • World class service
  • Exceptional new product introduction
  • Technology
  • Experience
  • Our Chinese connection
  • Our design capabilities
  • Our Pricing
  • Operational excellence
  • One – Stop – Shop
  • Our logistics system
  • Locations
  • Our size
All these things are good. In fact some of them may even be classified as "Core Competencies". However, the answers I receive to that question are often disheartening to me. You see, rarely do I ever hear the answer that it is our employees that really make a difference.

Employees matter. Let me repeat that. Employees matter - they are the differentiators. Think about it. I submit to you that every answer I listed above and any other answers that you may think of become important because it's your employees that create that success. World class service is not a core competence. It is what your employees do to create that level of service that becomes the core competence. They are the differentiators. They become differentiators only if effective leadership exists throughout the organization.

Lone Wolf – autocratic – insensitive leaders just don't get it.

Times have changed. New generations have entered the workforce. The number one priority of keeping your customer happy, although still paramount, has become the #2 priority. The number one priority is keeping your employees happy.

"If you make your employees your number one priority – they will make sure your customers are your nuber one priority."

If you even suspect that you may be a little bit autocratic; if someone has ever used the term "micro manager" in reference to your leadership, Take the following key concepts to heart and you can create and environment that will help your employees become the real "Differentiator" and create competitive advantage.

#1. Create a "Success Culture"

The first step is to insure that you not only utilize effective exit interviews to learn and improve but you create a consistent documented orientation program. Creating a "Success Culture" starts before you hire anyone; it starts by training all your managers on the interviewing and hiring process. Don't make the mistake thinking that recruitment, retention, interviewing and hiring are strictly the responsibility of human resources.

"A Lead Wolf Leaders Heart Guides their Mouth and their Words Create a Culture of Success."

#2. Be Proud of Who You Are (Your Ethics, Your Values, Your Corproate Citizenship)

Your cultural environment regarding health and safety issues are in the public spotlight and, as a result, employees want to work for companies who take these factors into consideration. Your reputation in the community is not only important to you but it is important to your employees as well.  Publish your company values. Make them visible to everyone. Discuss your ethics and your ideology.  But….. Make sure you "Walk the Walk".

#3.  Embrace Diversity in Your Workforce

Make your company unique by embracing diversity. A diverse workforce—in race, ethnicity, gender, age, geographic origin, education, personality, experience, etc.—creates an energy that can rarely exist in an environment of uniformity. Companies that embrace diversity get the job done quicker and this diversity often contributes to competitive advantage.  Make sure your mangers are trained in leadership, coaching and mentoring.

#4. Become a Lead Wolf Leader

Effective leaders are driven by a model. A model is a tool used to predict future outcomes of current decisions. Effective leaders build their models on the sum of their experiences, knowledge and deeds as well as their mistakes. This truth is at the core of learning how to be a winner instead of a survivor. Recognition and praise raises self-esteem. Positive feedback and ample communication allow employees gratification and a newfound confidence in the organization. Command and control works for the military but leadership in the business environment must be built on dignity and respect.

"The employee's heart cries out for identity and the core of identity requires a leadership influence on their existance."

Employees can't become a differentiator until they believe in their leadership, until they trust their leadership. Doubt, distrust and disenheartenemnt will destroy their individual identity and their belief system. Remember, it's their identity that allows them to become the differentators and it's your leadership that provides a journey of purpose in their work life.

#5. Communicate Effectively

Communication is critical to creating an environment that encourages employee retention. Respect, belief in employees, empowerment and involvement are key factors in retaining employees. Effective leadership & respect must be demonstrated at every level in the organization.

 #6. Make Personal Development a Continuous Process

Effective leaders go through a never ending development process that includes education, self study, training, experience and coaching and mentoring.  It includes creating a culture that helps direct the organization in such a way that it makes it cohesive and coherent keeping short term tactical goals and objectives in alignment with long term strategic initiatives. The success of leadership in this process is directly influenced by the individual leaders' beliefs, values, ethics, character, knowledge and skills.

#7. Dedicate Yourself with Passion and Commitment

Position and title may give you power but power in itself does not make you an effective leader. To become an effective leader there are specific skill sets that you must understand and master. This does not come naturally. It takes dedication, passion and commitment to the process. That commitment, dedication and passion includes a tireless effort to improve on specific skills and the development of a personal leadership methodology.

The successful leader is constantly building advantages into the organization at a much greater rate while they are eliminating disadvantages. The belief is that you not only have to be better than your competition but you must differentiate yourself.

Employee differentiation will soar if you and your executive staff follow these principles and demonstrate a passion for success. Excitement breeds excitement. Success breeds success. The more consuming your desire to create competitive advantage through your employees, the more you demonstrate leadership and draw support from your employees.

Rick Johnson, expert speaker, wholesale distribution's "Leadership Strategist", founder of CEO Strategist, LLC a firm that helps clients create and maintain competitive advantage. Need a speaker for your next event, E-mail rick@ceostrategist.com.  Don't forget to check out the Lead Wolf Series that can help you put more profit into your business.


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