It’s been a challenging couple of weeks. One of the most impactful moments was hearing that one of the senior leaders in my organization has left. He’s moving to another part of the organization for a well-deserved promotion. I’ve been working under his leadership for the past four years and I can say without reservation that he is an extraordinary leader.
If you asked what makes him extraordinary leader my response would be that in addition to being incredibly smart, along with his ability to lead an organization that pays out more than $50 billion a year in social benefits, it’s how he got all of us involved in our organization. It’s called engagement. I know…I know…engagement is a real buzz these days. In my view, this individual exemplified it. In fact, it was infectious. In the time that I’ve worked for him it remained one of his key priorities. He made a number of meaningful changes to keep us informed and hear what we had to say about our business.
First of all he put into place a number of communities of practice, such as a middle manager’s committee, an annual recognition and awards ceremony, regular leadership forums that have gone beyond “talking heads”. It was impressive to see how he valued the views of his people including his leadership team. Not only did he keep us informed through his commitment to hold regular executive management team meetings while managing a hectic schedule, he encouraged the sharing of ideas. He also went the extra mile by holding coffee meetings with different levels of staff and creating a dialog at all levels of the organization. He was genuinely curious and wanted to understand what was needed to make it an even higher performing organization.
Equally important was how he led by example. Despite leading during a period of fiscal restraint, workforce reductions and successfully delivering on a number of challenging agendas, he demonstrated respect at all levels. He was professional regardless of the pressure he was under and instilled success. Although we worked hard to deliver he appreciated the need to have fun by encouraging participation in activities to support charitable organizations such as the United Way. Work life balance was valued.
What I really appreciated was how he made each of us feel. He believed in what we were doing as an organization and his insatiable need to understand and learn more translated into valuing each of us for what we brought to the table. He appreciated our expertise, the experience we brought and valued who we were. When I finished having a conversation with him I felt that my contribution truly made a difference. What’s interesting is that we all felt this way.
I could go on but I think you get the picture. Leaders that standout above the rest engage their people and their organization and are genuinely curious about what their employees think. They listen to them and adopt their ideas. Effective leaders are respectful even under pressure and most of all believe in their people.
I’m curious to hear what some of the qualities are of the outstanding leaders in your life, and how you are incorporating them into your leadership approach. Post here – I’d enjoy hearing from you!