Having coaches in life is one of the best ways to gain valuable insight and perspective to help you meet your goals. The hard-nosed attitude about going it alone is passe. Coming together with and learning from accomplished peers is empowering and will elevate your professional career.
One of the coaches in business who I look up to is Hubert Joly, former CEO of Best Buy. Joly gained a lot of recognition for his time leading the company and recently published an account of his experiences — The Heart of Business: Leadership Principles for the Next Era of Capitalism.
It’s one of the best books on leadership I’ve read all year. Joly delivers great advice for leaders striving for success in their own organization. The book has many, many lessons from which to learn, but I wanted to whet your appetite with four that spoke to me.
4 Principles of Leadership That Reflect the True Heart of Business
I’ll say it — leading can be challenging. You have to be all in, genuinely, to successfully set the tone and influence how your team and other stakeholders see things. Keep these principles in mind to create an atmosphere that enables your team to operate at peak levels.
- Passion and Purpose — Not Profits
Why do you do what you do? If the answer is, “To make money,” you’re in trouble. The pursuit of cash isn’t enough to keep a business moving forward for the long haul. It also doesn’t motivate peak performance —creative environments where passions are pursued are the ones that begat success.
At Best Buy, Joly disrupted the status quo eliminating a bonus structure that was in place for the sales team upon realizing it was a source of anxiety, not a motivator. The bonus was added to the standard compensation, eliminating the worry associated with hitting short-term quotas and instead empowering everyone to focus on long-term goals.
Take time to reflect on your purpose and adjust your processes when necessary to ensure they’re in alignment.
- People Matter
Success is only possible when the right people are in the right positions and they’re empowered to contribute to the organization’s purpose. And, more importantly, individual contributors need to be synced to get the force multiplier effect that kicks in when teamwork takes off.
When Joly got to Best Buy, he found that they had many A-players but no A-Team and began holding quarterly meetings to improve the team’s cohesiveness. One initiative that came from those meetings was empowering people at all levels to make more decisions in their respective roles.
An A-team has to be cultivated at both the individual and team levels. Investing in your people is the only way to accelerate performance.
- Improve and Adapt, Constantly
Today’s markets have a whole new set of challenges, and successful leaders need to be forward-moving, disciplined, and determined. They also need to be self-aware and able to recognize opportunities to improve. We don’t all know it all — we can’t.
One of the points Joly stresses throughout his book is the continuous journey of becoming the best version of yourself. He even went so far as to bring the father of executive coaching, Marshall Goldsmith, to help everyone at Best Buy do just that.
Plug into your own training, education, and coaching resources to evolve with the landscape and stay ahead of the curve.
- Lead By Example
Long gone, and, frankly, never were, the days where the boss, his corner office, and odd temperament inspired (or scared) everyone to do their “best.” The teams of today who are accomplishing great things are doing it together, with the leaders active in the pursuit of goals and being the best examples of the values to which their organization subscribes.
When Joly brought in Goldsmith, he too jumped right into the process of self-improvement with everyone else. This willingness to be vulnerable and actively participate in the exercise built a lot of trust and showed everyone that perfection was not the expectation. Teams that accomplish great things are teams that trust each other, and one of the most effective ways to build trust within your organization is by living its values.
When the Going Gets Tough, So What?
Joly’s book details a lot of the situations he faced when trying to correct the course at Best Buy and provides many examples of just how crucial it is to find that dynamic balance in exercising the fundamentals while adjusting in real-time to whatever challenges are immediately ahead.
Whether you’re leading a small team or directing an organization that provides a livelihood for hundreds or thousands of people, the core principles of leadership are the same. Keep respect, commitment, communication, and empathy as your guiding lights and your team will crush any challenge in its path.
Written by Rob Lynch.
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