Many leaders, whether they’re experienced or not, take on a new role with a certain attitude. They set out to prove their toughness. Or, they whirl into an organization like a cyclone and begin establishing new policies and procedures. Other leaders like to set themselves apart from their team members and give themselves special perks and treatment. If these are your strategies, you won’t get far in most organizations, according to Rodger Dean Duncan.
In his post on Forbes, Duncan describes the difference between a mechanic and a gardener when it comes to leadership. Mechanics try to fix things, especially people. Gardeners nurture what they have. In Duncan's experience, leaders should strive to be gardeners. They work with what they’ve been given and nurture the strengths of each team member.
These kinds of leaders also make it clear that everyone is in the same boat together. The only way the organization will succeed is if everyone works together. If some team members perceive unfairness because leaders are on the golf course everyday instead of working, they won’t be motivated to work hard.
Duncan’s article reminded me of a Seattle-based company, Gravity Payments, which made big headlines last year. The CEO at Gravity Payments plans to set the salary level for everyone, including himself at $70,000 a year. He’s also in the trenches, working harder than his employees. Inc. magazine recently checked in with the company to see how they’re doing. Since announcing these changes, revenue at the company is soaring. So is retention.
At Gravity Payments, team members are motivated to work hard because their CEO gets it. He isn’t interested in proving he’s above his employees, and he’s not interested in ‘fixing’ his employees. He’s setting goals for the organization and achieving them.
As you begin your new CEO gig, reflect on your actions and think about how you want to be perceived by your team members.