By: Jill Mendoza Interested in becoming a leader in your organization or industry? The first step in the process is to acknowledge that nobody but you can make it happen. Recently Peter Cohan’s e book, Hungry Start-up Strategy, was published after interviewing over 300 leaders. Cohan’s findings suggest leaders, regardless of their position, do things differently than other people.
My next three post will explore seven surprising habits leaders have been cultivating for years. And yes, it is my goal to share examples of how here at IDO we practice these seven habits of leadership:
Get your head above the weeds
Create and cultivate culture
Remove obstacles that keep others from succeeding
Set ambitious goals
Give up control, but hold your team accountable
Coach, don’t micromanage
If you don’t love what you’re doing, quit
Here are the first two habits we will explore.
ONE: Get your head above the weeds This is number one for a reason. Especially if you work for someone else, there is a good chance that you have been given a specific task to accomplish and if you think you’ll be promoted just for doing the task at hand, trust me, you’ll never “get your head above the weeds”. To be sure, it’s important for others to know that you can be depended on to do what is needed. But those who become leaders innately invest more time to understand the organization’s deeper reason for being, and bring initiatives to the table that will help the organization realize that purpose. More importantly they let those with power know that they want to be in charge of those initiatives and own the change that is needed. Example: IDO’s Resource Library A great example of how one of our associates, after joining the firm shortly after college, took the task of managing our Resource Library. Yvonne took what some might consider a mundane task of meeting with representatives and filing samples to a whole new level for our organization. She took the initiative to organize all the valuable product information she collects and prepares monthly presentations for the entire IDO team. During staff meetings the information is presented and the value of the knowledge she gathers is share with everyone. Yvonne saw a way get her head above the weeds and improve a process by creating a growing, learning and sharing opportunity for all. TWO: Create and cultivate culture One of the most important jobs of a leader is to create and cultivate a company’s culture. So ask yourself: What kinds of people get ahead here? What behaviors are discouraged and are less likely to get you ahead? Do those values help or hinder the company’s growth? Are the company’s stated purpose and performance measurement systems consistent with those values? If you hope to be a leader, you ought to be able to see what your current organization does well and where it could improve. And you should know how you would do it differently if you were the boss. Example: IDO Refresh Project Another great example here at IDO is how several of our associates noticed that after ten years our existing office space was no longer supporting the work flow of our associates and no longer reflected the progressive image that we had built in our brand. They realized that our office space was not supporting our values and the behaviors we wanted to encourage. So, on their own initiative, they formed a “Refresh Team ” and began to think differently about how we use our space. The notion that we should “walk the talk”; and what we do for our clients, we should be doing for ourselves, was put to task. In summary, although the project is a work in progress, the Refresh Team acted as leaders; they knew where we were with our current space but they also knew we needed to communicate and share where we are going. When people have hope for the future they will have power in the present and this is how you create and cultivate a meaningful company culture. Culture does not necessarily come from the top. As our IDO Associates have demonstrated, culture is created and cultivated at every level of the organization. In my next series of Post, I will expand upon the remaining 5 habits with actual working examples and stories. So stay tuned and learn how practicing these seven habits, can help move you and your organization forward.