A question that I often get asked by founders of high growth businesses is if they have to step away from operating in their business, how can they build a team that will hold true to their vision and will operate the business to the standard that they would.
It’s a good question. After all when you hire in support you are hiring human beings and it’s very hard to get human beings to do what you want.
A while back I had the pleasure of attending an event by Dan Barnett where he discussed just this. The below blog shares the points raised at this conference.
Why is it that some leaders achieve results while other don’t?
Why is it that certain leaders like Steve Jobs and Richard Branson were able to create high performing teams that can achieve results that the rest of us could only dream of.
Branson and Jobs focused on working on their business (not in it) and yet somehow they managed to ensure that their customer got the same exceptional service as if it were delivered by themselves time and time again, team after team, in country after country.
The results force
Just like Simon Sinek’s theory of the golden circle that we have discussed in previous blogs (if you haven’t read this blog click here), the Results Force identifies that it is beliefs that drive behaviours, which in turn drive results.
The problem is as business owners and CEOs we tend to talk about results because that’s what we care about.
However according to Barnett effective leadership begins with focusing on your company’s beliefs and where the company is going.
A great leader will then make it exceptionally clear what behaviours the company and its people need to follow to get there.
The Apple Example
If you look at Steve Jobs’ leadership this is exactly how he operated. At Apple, Steve Jobs said we believe that we are going to put a dent in the world and we are going to change the way the world operates in amazing ways.
Jobs said we will do this by following these key behaviours:
We focus on design
We simplify, we humanise technology
We build extraordinary products
We don’t sell cheap
We are family orientated
He then went on to say if you don’t believe this or if you don’t want to follow these directives that’s ok; just don’t come to work for Apple.
Of course Apple has gone on to produce one of the most high-performing teams ever. Based on accounts from people who worked at Apple with Steve Jobs they say ‘we did what we did not because we wanted to please Steve Jobs but because we wanted to put a dent in the world and we believed that Job’s key behaviours would achieve that’.
Leadership is about leading culture
Another word for a company’s beliefs and values is its culture. Put into action, culture is ‘the way we do things around here’. So if culture is so fundamentally important to the development of successful organisational teams how do you lead culture?
Step one – Find out what your customers value
There is no point building your culture around something that your customers don’t value. If you don’t know what it is that your customers value find out.
Step two – Develop your culture
Define what you believe and what are the behaviours that will help you achieve these beliefs.
Barnett also challenges leaders to understand their make or break, which is the one thing that must be done extraordinarily well to achieve your vision, and to take the lead on this.
(In the Apple example above the make or break was a focus on design).
Once you have defined these behaviours make sure they are reflected in how you hire as well as how you reward and promote your people.
Only hire people who fit your culture and share the beliefs of your organisation.
One strategy to help you determine this is to use behavioural based interview questions that reflect the key behaviours of your organisation.
Click here to find out typical behavioural based interview questions.
Make sure your desired behaviours are reflected in your bonus system and other reward systems. For instance if you say that you value integrity but you reward your people only based on their financial performance you are unlikely to see integrity embraced in the culture of your organisation.
When looking at your rewards system consider how you can reward the desired behaviours through offering autonomy, mastery and purpose. If you haven’t watched Dan Pink’s The Puzzle of Motivation TED talk you might like to watch it here.
Finally people will not take your culture seriously if you make exceptions. Even if someone is great at their job, if they don’t fit your culture you need to show them the door.
Step three – communicate important goals
While the focus of your internal communications is on beliefs and behaviours you still need to share your important business goals and engage your team in achieving this. So if your business plan is to increase your market share by 20% over the next 12 months make sure everyone in your team knows this, understands their role in achieving this and is informed of progress.
Remember there is a real difference between a business owner and a leader (and just because you are a business owner doesn’t mean you are a leader). Leaders inspire people to perform at their best and work together to achieve a common goal. Keep this in mind if you are struggling to ignite your team.