I am excited to share this article with you from strategy + business. Together with my co-authors, we outline the dramatic transformation of NYU Langone Medical Center during the past 10 years. Learn how Dean and CEO Robert Grossman, M.D., drove the organization's strategy forward, while also increasing employee engagement and ensuring excellent patient care. Any organization can take away lessons from this case study: how to create and go after a vision; how to use data to inform actions and create engagement; and how to upgrade and support talent during a transformation effort.Read More
Originally Published on Entrepreneur.
Dear Reader - this article was published last week on Entrepreneur.com. It contains some ideas I've written on before. Based on the overwhelmingly positive response I received from readers, I thought it was worth sharing with you again. Thank you for your support.
What we create in business and in our personal lives continues to vibrate out, either in small or big ways.
David Brooks, an opinion writer for the New York Times, once said that to impact people powerfully, leaders need to pursue the development of moral depth. That’s a bold statement. What does Brooks mean by this and how does it apply to increasing the impact you have on others as a leader?
Essentially, we live out two competing value sets: resume values and legacy values. Resume values center around achievement, competing and winning. Legacy values are displayed in how you engaged people, how you lived your life and how people remember you.
My dad, a successful CEO, passed at age 90. When the family gathered and reminisced about who he was, the themes brought up were love, sacrifice, perseverance through suffering, a “never give up” spirit, dedication to family and integrity in all things. My dad always taught us that any time you make a choice to compromise what you know is right, even if it doesn’t hurt anyone else, you diminish your soul. These were my father’s legacy values and they were firmly implanted in my own character and view of the world.
Legacy values vector at a different plane than resume values, and if underdeveloped, they leave a leader stranded in the shallows of moral character. We’ve all met these stranded leaders. Work is all about winning. Certainly, resume values can be critical for a life well lived, but if that’s your core focus, it leaves a hollow feeling in the connection with others. People with moral depth can feel the lack of heart, the feeling of “soullessness.” Stakeholders in your business today care not only about what you do, but how you do it. If you get results and leave shattered relationships, then you are missing the core purpose of what your business can achieve -- both a great return for the owners and a great return in the lives of every person you touch.
The best entrepreneurs I have met are those who integrate resume values and legacy values, first within themselves, and then within their organizational culture. Here are three ways you can integrate and live out both sets of important values in your organization and life.
1. Give back to the community.
As the leader of an organization, consider encouraging and even incentivizing your employees to make positive contributions to the community or those less fortunate. Some community-minded companies set up programs where the company matches each employee’s social giving. Others select significant nonprofit projects and causes to rally around together. In either case, the company and its employees make real world positive change in their community.
2. Enrich the lives of those your serve.
It is common knowledge that a company serves its customers. There is no debate here. However, companies often forget they also serve other equally important groups, one of the most important being its own employees. If you are part of the organization’s leadership, consider how you can make the lives of your employees better. Are you able to make their time in the workplace more enjoyable and effective? Are you able to encourage their personal growth and goals? Are you able to provide services to make their family lives more successful and enriching?
To identify how best to serve your employees, consider stepping out of your office and onto the front lines of your company’s operations. Give your employees the chance to speak up in an open forum without recourse about their experiences and to voice their needs to you. Then listen and act. Develop programs that will most benefit your employees and improve their life experience.
3. Enhance your organization’s purpose.
Leaders can be passionate about doing great things and about being great people. For leaders who live out both legacy and resume values, going the extra mile for fellow team members, customers and the community is the norm. Giving both your head and heart to these important stakeholders is standard practice. For these leaders, there is no other choice but to pursue relentlessly a depth of moral character grounded in legacy values, and as a result, to build a powerful memory that echoes into the future.
Doug was featured in the lead story of Professional Builder Magazine May 2015.
The higher up you go in an organization, the harder it is to stay in touch with what’s really happening on the front lines. And the bad news—if you hear it at all—is presented only in the best possible light. How do you get the real truth about what’s happening out in the field? How do you stay connected to all corners of your organization? I have found that three simple questions, asked with the intent to learn, can help you stay in touch with reality and be a better leader:
Get out of your office and ask, “How can I help you?”
Doug Conant, while he was CEO of Campbell Soup Company, knew that if he was going to transform the company culture, he had to ask the simple question, “How can I help you?” He asked it continually of his employees, his suppliers, and his customers—and he demanded that each of his managers do the same too. Conant knew that as a leader he needed to show he cared about the employees’ and customers’ agendas if he wanted them to care about the company’s agenda. With this one question, people knew that Conant cared, had high expectations, and was committed to solving problems, adding resources, and removing barriers. Through literally thousands of these connections with people, Conant was able to stay in touch, build confidence, motivate, and create urgency for transforming Campbell Soup. He reversed precipitous declines in market value, employee engagement, financial results, and corporate responsibility.
Get out on the front lines and ask, “Why are we doing it this way?”
Mark McKenzie, the CEO of Senior Care Centers, a large skilled nursing company in Texas, often asks, “Why are we doing it this way?” He asks to learn, not to criticize. He knows that as the company grows, which it is doing rapidly, it will need new systems and new structures, and all of these need to be aligned with delivering outstanding patient care. McKenzie is building a culture of asking “why” and getting everyone engaged in the joy of being heard, seeing things change, and measuring progress.
Get out to your farthest perimeters and ask the question, “How are we doing in living out our values?”
Stanley Bergman, the CEO of Henry Schein, a $10 billion global medical supply company, visits each company office at least once per year in every part of the globe. He meets with the country leaders and the product teams. Yes, he has great financial controls and excellent budget targets for each country and each product line but, as he says, the most important reason to visit is connecting with the people. In each office he visits, he makes sure he and his top people reach out to every person in the building. No one is left out. The questions he asks them are about values and how they are being demonstrated. He might ask a salesperson, “Are we living into our values as a company in ways that support you?” He wants the truth and he has established a reputation as someone who listens—and takes action based on what he hears. He continually relates the story of what Henry Schein is doing and will do, and he’s tireless in his commitment to show that each individual is a valued contributor to “Team Schein.” His entire message is, “I want to be certain you are getting everything you need to do your job well, and that we show you respect all along the way.”
Three questions, three stories. Each one puts you in closer touch with reality, builds trust, and inspires high performance. Each time you ask these questions, you’re also acting as a role model for others in your organization. Being present, asking the right questions, and listening to what your customers, employees, suppliers, and investors have to tell you creates an invaluable feedback loop for your performance as a leader and for the organization as a whole. Do it consistently and others will follow with astounding results.
Doug and Michael Kelly wrote an article titled "The Best Kind of Succession Planning" for Boardroom Briefing. In it, the writers discuss that the number one priority for the board is to ensure that there is a company wide plan for the succession and the cultivation of leadership talent.