Leading "Like A Boss"
In his classic book, "The Traveler's Gift," Andy Andrews tells a fable of a man in personal and professional crisis who is given the gift of being able to voyage back in time to meet seven men and women involved in critical events in world history and to learn their secrets for living a successful and meaningful life. Like this traveler, what if you were given the opportunity to sit down with the leading thinkers of the 21st Century on the critical subjects of motivating, developing and leading others? Do you wonder what they might tell you about how to get the most out of your teams and learn to lead "like a boss"? Wonder no longer.
For the past 23 years, I have practiced law at Ice Miller LLP, advising employers not only how to comply with the various laws governing the workplace, but more importantly, how to get the best out of their workforces. Our Firm's guiding principle is that the surest way to avoid the costs and aggravations of workplace disputes resulting in employment lawsuits or union organizing drives is to ensure those disputes do not arise in the first place.
Consider it a form of "workplace wellness," if you will. Wellness programs are based on the "ounce of prevention" premise that it is wiser to use your resources to improve your diet and exercise on the front end to prevent health problems than it is to spend greater resources on the back end on costly drugs and surgeries when it is too late. Like health problems, we recognize that not every workplace problem can be avoided and have our own highly skilled surgeons prepared to operate when legal surgery is necessary. However, our fundamental belief is that employers that focus on creating better workplaces will have fewer disgruntled employees, fewer legal problems and a more productive and motivated workforce.
Consistent with this philosophy, Ice Miller has partnered with our friends at the Indiana Society of Human Resource Management to bring in keynote speakers for the HR Indiana Annual Conference who represent the Mount Rushmore of thinkers on how to create excellent workplaces. For those of you who have not been able to attend their challenging presentations the past several years, here's our own "Traveler's Gift" of the key insights these best-selling authors taught (as well as a sneak preview of an insight yet to come).
Play to Your Strengths: In 2011, Marcus Buckingham taught us that the best way to get the most out of anyone – whether an employee on your team or yourself – is not to harp on that person's weaknesses, but instead to build and capitalize on strengths. Great organizations and individuals understand the areas where they are weak, but focus like a laser beam on the areas where they are wired to be strong. Great managers and leaders, then, are those who help their employees discover their strengths and put them in a position to use those strengths on behalf of the organization.
Drive to Thrive: In 2012, Daniel Pink taught us that, contrary to popular belief, modern employees are not primarily driven by external "carrot and stick" motivators such as compensation or threat of discipline. Instead, employees today are motivated more by the intrinsic rewards associated with performing a job well, and high-functioning organizations are those that recognize their employees' need for some degree of control over how they perform their jobs (Autonomy), encourage them to become better at something that matters to them (Mastery) and provide the opportunity to contribute to a cause greater than themselves (Purpose).
Organizational Health is "The Advantage": In 2013, Patrick Lencioni taught us that the most successful organizations are not those with the most brilliant strategy or cutting-edge technology. Instead, the organizations with the biggest advantage over their competitors are those with the best organizational health. The most effective way to foster this organizational health, according to Lencioni, is through building a cohesive leadership team, establishing clarity among those leaders about the organization's goals and objectives, communicating that clarity to everyone within the organization and aligning structures to reinforce that clarity going forward.
Developing People is a Business and Moral Imperative: Just a few weeks ago, Tom Peters challenged us with the theory that developing human capital is not just good business strategy, but also a moral imperative. According to Peters, the best way for an organization to ensure "brilliant and profitable" service to its customers is by first "brilliantly serving" the people who serve the customer through developing, training and engaging them. Training is an investment, not an expense, and one that leaders ignore at their peril.
Strong Leaders Develop Other Leaders: As if Buckingham, Pink, Lencioni and Peters were not enough, best-selling author John Maxwell will be joining us in August of 2015 to discuss his views on how to build strong organizations. Among other principles Maxwell has advanced in his books is the "Law of Explosive Growth," which teaches that while a business wishing merely to add growth should add followers, a business that wants to multiply growth must develop people into becoming leaders themselves. The strongest companies Maxwell teaches, have strong leaders at every level of the organization, and the only way to develop such widespread leadership is to make developing leaders a part of the culture.
The common theme of these great thinkers is that in order to build a better mousetrap, you first must build a better workplace. Whether private sector or public sector, for profit or non-profit, any organization that aspires to provide excellent service to its customers must begin by creating an environment in which its employees are motivated, engaged and developed to become excellent themselves. As my kids might say, that is leading "like a boss."
Now that you have received your own "Traveler's Gift" from these thinkers, how will you use it to build a better workplace in your own organization?
About Ice Miller LLP
Founded in 1910, Ice Miller LLP is an Am Law 200 Firm with a nationally recognized reputation in many of its practice areas. Ice Miller offers a broad array of capabilities in virtually all areas of legal practice including: corporate, patents and trademarks, bankruptcy, lobbying, labor and employment, litigation, employee benefits, environment, tax, trusts and estates, real estate, municipal finance and government law. With offices in Chicago; Cleveland; Columbus; DuPage County, Ill.; Indianapolis; and Washington, D.C., the Firm has more than 300 lawyers and 40 paraprofessionals.
This publication is intended for general information purposes only and does not and is not intended to constitute legal advice. The reader should consult with legal counsel to determine how laws or decisions discussed herein apply to the reader's specific circumstances.