DYAuthor & Speaker

Author and Speaker

Excerpt from DY Presentation at  

                       Babcock& Wilcox Leadership Conference  

  

Charles Barkley is famous for many things one of which is this statement:  “I’m not a role model…..Just because I dunk a basketball doesn’t mean I should raise your kids.” 

 

Contrary to that view, leaders of organizations are definitely role models…..either good or bad.

 

  • If they cut corners, their people cut corners.

 

  • If they wink at bad practices, those who report to them will wink, too.

 

  • If they verbally abuse associates, others will follow their lead.

 

  • If they focus only on today and ignore tomorrow, associates will do the same. 

 

  • If they think communication in the workplace is some sort of game, they will encourage others to be less than truthful. 

 

If they do any of those things, they will detract from respect and therefore their ability to manage.  

 

Here’s a great example of doing it right.  Some years ago, a new leader joined a floundering national drugstore chain as CEO.  He arrived at a time of extreme peril for a company that was rapidly spinning out of control and heading for what would ultimately become a historic bankruptcy that lasted four years.  He recognized right away the need to set the tone for a demoralized workforce.  He took several very visible steps including these.

     
  • He went from office-to-office introducing himself and insisting that people call him by his first name.
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  • He ordered time clocks removed as a signal that he trusted people would work hard.
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  • He eliminated executive parking spaces, replacing those with first-come, first-served parking.  There would be many times after that when he would come back from an external meeting and associates could look out the window to see the boss walking through snow and ice from some far distant parking space.
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  • He shared financial news with employees.
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  • He toured facilities, met employees and made himself accessible including quarterly Phone-a-Thons during which employees could dial the CEO directly, ask any question or make any comment without fear of retribution.

 

These steps spoke volumes about this leader as a person and his expectations of others.  He understood he was a role model. 

Here, as presented in Trust is the Tiebreaker are the results.  Employees were surveyed and more than 80 percent said they were well informed during the Chapter 11 case, with two-thirds rating morale as good or better.  A national research firm surveyed media and the company was rated #1 in it industry for accessibility, credibility and candor. 

 

The lesson learned?  Be what you want others in your organization to be.