On ROI’s Into the Corner Office podcast, I have interviewed over 150 leading middle-market CEOs from companies across all industries and sectors. The advice and wisdom they have shared with us is unparalleled. One of the key and consistent CEO messages is the importance of investing in people.
One cornerstone of leadership for many successful CEOs is a cohesive team mentality: a good leader guides the entire team to success knowing that the team is only as strong as its weakest member. As Fee Stubblefield, CEO of The Springs Living, says, “You can’t get anywhere without everybody. You have to … figure out how to get there together.”
Bring Everyone Along
That concept of bringing everyone along–either as a team to accomplish goals or on a personal level to help each employee grow and thrive–is a concept I hear often. Matt Carter, CEO of Aryaka, notes that “Part of your job as a leader is to figure out how to bring other people along.”
What does that look like? For Matt, it’s being thoughtful and observant so that he can understand “what other people’s motivations are before you go out there and only commit your point of view, which may be in direct conflict with others.” Conflict within a team creates problems. It’s important to understand others’ point of view so that each member of the team feels valued and seen.
Adam Bryant is the Managing Director of Merryck & Co. When he first started managing people, he says, he set an extremely high bar and wanted people to do things his way. He thought that since his way worked, then it must work for everyone else too, right? Not always, Adam discovered, and his advice now is to let go a bit. “When you apply your own standards to other people, that’s frustrating for them and it’s frustrating for you.” Instead, he has found coaching and helping his team achieve a standard of excellence to be much more effective.
Take Care of Your Team
It’s important to be reminded that teams within organizations are made of individual people with differing viewpoints, lifestyles and backgrounds. The power of team collaboration and idea-sharing and ensuring that every member of the team feels supported and heard means they can be happier at work and more productive. Investing time and effort into knowing each person on the team in how they best think and work plus how to effectively help them grow is a key success component. As Fee says, “Our biggest, greatest purpose in all this is … taking care of people. And every day, every year, we want to be a little bit better.”
Another element of investing in people is leading by example and never asking your team to do something you wouldn’t do yourself. “Even today as a CEO,” says Ralph Taylor, CEO of Sysmex, “I will never ask anybody to do anything I’m not prepared to do myself. And I’ve found that if I set that example, people are willing to follow.”
People Are a Company’s Most Important Resource
By investing in people on their teams and paying close attention to developing the strengths and shoring up the weaknesses of each member, these CEOs are ensuring not only a successful company but a team that is happy to be there. To hear more sage advice and wisdom from these CEOs and others, visit the full Into the Corner Office podcast archive here or wherever you listen to your podcasts.