The American Craftsman style of architecture and design that began at the end of the 19th century represented a beautiful harmonzation of form and design. The Craftsman architects believed that the interior décor of the building was to be in congruence and balance with the sturdy structure of the exterior and the natural beauty of the surrounding grounds. It has been said that the owner of an original Craftsman home must take great care and should observe the Craftsman philosophy of grace and symmetry to preserve the character of the structure. Preserving character is not exclusive to maintaining the exterior framework and surroundings; it’s the interior charm that often makes an impact.
A great leader’s character is more enduring than his or her dossier. While your ancestry and accomplishments may bring you notoriety and invitations, it is ultimately your aptitude for inspiring, energizing and connecting with people that draws them to you. You might look successful on the outside, but if you don’t take care of your character on the inside, your effectiveness as a leader will be greatly reduced. It is the fruits of your character that make an imprint on people and drive them to follow you.
In the same vein, if your company’s goal is to earn a reputation for service delivery that fosters a connectedness and loyalty to your brand, then you and your employees must embody the persona that leaves a positive imprint on the mind of the customer. Doing a great job is not enough to wow; it is doing a great job with a noble attitude that moves your company beyond the norm. The nature of your customer interactions engenders the character of the company.
Character building doesn’t have to be a high-arching immaterial concept. This concept can be directly applied to your method of goal setting with your team. Loose, uninspired goals tend to lead to weak performances. If you’d like to inspire your team to achieve great things with a great attitude to build a better company, then it’s time to electrify the goals process. The software is not to blame; the problem stems from the disconnect between your employees’ perceptions of what they can and cannot influence. To change this dynamic, draw from the aspects of character that influence: to inspire, to energize, and to connect.
First, you must inspire your people to push their boundaries. If you don’t believe they are capable of achieving stellar performance, how do you expect them to? According to Merriam-Webster.com, to inspire is “to make (someone) want to do something: to give (someone) an idea about what to do or create.”
A strong and spirited performance arises out of challenge. How empowered are your people to create and pursue their vision for what they can achieve? As a leader, help your people to establish what they will do differently, specific behaviors which are proven on your team (use top performer’s best actions to benchmark behaviors).
Your belief in your employees is evidenced by how well you hold them accountable to reach these new goals. You trust that they are capable of delivering the actions and attitudes that create success. Expect it and they will go all out. Anticipate that as people try new things and are learning new methods, things may go sideways. Partner with your employees and work together to course-correct when they get off track. Fear of failure is much lessened when mistakes are managed with reason and problem-solving. Learning and growth are then affiliated with the measurement process; introducing an opportunity for applicable character building.
Celebrate the things that make your company great. Revel in the ways and means in which you are divergent from outdated methodologies. Build that intention into your goals. Make certain that every employee can clearly articulate these “road less traveled” advantages in response to the question, “Who are we (as an organization)?”
Keeping up with technological shifts requires change, which in turn, demands a certain amount of risk tolerance. Keep the blood pumping; encourage healthy risk-taking and reward courageous decisions made by your team.
What else makes your company great? It’s not just the big strategic moves; it’s the little things you do every day with your distinctive mark. Celebrate ordinary acts delivered with extraordinary spirit; these instances are what create those memorable customer moments that lead to loyal customers. Think of the tech that repeatedly blows the doors off of your CSAT scores. Find out what specific actions the tech repeatedly executes that leaves that positive imprint on the customer. Perhaps it’s time to document those actions and attitudes in the form of a service credo. You now have a new standard for how your employees behave with customers that is concrete and measurable.
Celebrate together when your whole team blows the door off of your CSAT scores as a result. Don’t leave excellence in the mission statement: empower your people with what excellence does. Define it, outline it in your goals, practice it and measure it. Then, celebrate it together.
As a leader, how accessible are you? If you are a senior leader, would employees feel comfortable asking you a question if they met you in an elevator? Could they offer a suggestion and know that it was heard?
Employee engagement is not that complicated: make employees a part of the process of improving the company. Give them a voice. Repeat what you hear so they know their ideas and opinions are not only collected, but heard by people who care. Recognize contributions that net real results, as well as the persons who presented them. If people think you don’t care or won’t act, they won’t take the time to contribute. If you want engagement, you need involvement.
Look at your company from the outside. Do you appear to be structurally sound, strong, stable and successful? Is your culture in balance with your internal goals? Are your people inspired, energized and connected to you and the direction of your company? In the spirit of the Craftsman, take care when you are drafting your goals. Involve your people in adopting your standards and credos. How your team executes is just as important as what they execute to cultivate the character of your brand. n
About the Author: Barbara Shaw, CPLP, is director of education at PSA Security Network, Westminster, Colo.