You're a leader? Really? Are people being real with you? Are you certain?
The video is from an interview Gary Vaynerchuk did with former CEO of Home Depot, Frank Blake. If you have spent any time with me at all, you know I’m a Gary Vee fan. Direct, honest, empathetic, smart, hard worker and no excuses type guy. The no excuses mentality resonates with me – life is too short for excuses and life is too short to withhold the truth. If you haven’t found Gary Vee yet; you’re welcome. If you have, you’ll enjoy this quick snippet. You are more than welcome to watch the entire video, but the blog will include time from minutes 26-32.
One of my new favorite quotes by Mr. Blake in this snippet: “Leaders are the frog that the company boils…Everyone molds themselves to what they think the leader wants to hear.”
So…if you’re a leader in your company; especially if your title has a C in front of it, pay attention here. Ask yourself, “Are your people being real with you?”
As a consultant, I dive deep into corporate culture and make it my business to get to know the leadership. Meeting the CEO typically tells me everything I need to know regardless of why I am there. Whether I’m hired to help teams communicate better with one another, or to brand a division, do executive coaching with certain employees or groups of employees, or help the company to develop the ‘why’ statement which leads to a brand and marketing rebirth – it begins with meeting top brass. Most consultants today are not worth the money being paid because they aren’t telling the truth to those that hired them. It’s not about the money for me – if I care about the company and the people, I want to be a part of the success. Sometimes this means that the truth is going to be so painful. Delivered with as much love as I have of course, but painful nonetheless.
Top issues I am dealing with are CEO’s and/or C-Suite leaders not being honest with themselves about the company culture. Sometimes there are individuals that are killing the culture daily with employees working in fear of certain leaders or working without hope of being promoted, seen or even appreciated. If this is your company – your leader is at fault. Mr. Blake says that sometimes people will mold themselves into people that they believe they need to be for their leader – and this doesn’t always mean honesty. It never ceases to amaze me how many leaders don’t have a true pulse on employees and the culture underneath them. As you have heard, Gary Vee and Mr. Blake believe in reviews – and not the simple 360 review – real, authentic reviews from people. As a consultant to some of the top leaders and corporations in our nation, I can state from my own experience that real reviews mean getting into the trenches and hearing real truth. Gary Vee said it, “The number one conversation that companies need to start having - reviews.”
Leaders with their heads in the sand are enabling cultures to run amuck – only to be controlled by the “leaders” beneath them who do not always have the best interests of the company or the people.
What happens when leadership doesn’t create a culture based deeply in brand?
- They lose relevance in the marketplace
- They lose good people
- They lose their own personal legacies
- They are just existing; not thriving
- They are not respected
- The company never reaches full potential
- They are unable to motivate anyone
- They have employees who are intimidated and scared
- They create a culture of dog eat dog and gossip
- They lose. Everything.
Don’t believe me? Believe Jack Welch (GE), Richard Branson (Virgin), Herb Kelleher (Southwest Airlines) – they each point to culture as their primary competitive advantage.
So how do you know if you’re currently winning or losing?
- If great brands are built from the inside out – do you know what yours is?
- Do your employees know?
- Do you even know what ‘brand’ means?
- Do you think that culture and brand are only for the HR department?
- If so, #failing.
- Do you believe that culture is out of your control?
Look, your brand, purpose, values, and positioning should be used to develop ALL strategy and guide ALL operations. Period. Your brand isn’t simply what you SAY it is, it’s what you DO. ALL THE TIME. NO EXCUSES. Culture can’t be imposed, and you can’t force people to think in a certain way or make them behave like you want them to. BUT, your culture should produce unity; not uniformity. Laying down guidelines to give direction – not rules that look like a dictatorship. If you do not set conditions for your company culture that influences and inspires daily interaction and direction for your company and all employees; you will fail, and your legacy is going to be terrible.
Is there a template for how to do this? YES. Sometimes you don’t have to change it, you can leverage existing culture or re-align your entire brand identity.
Either way, we can help.