Sep 6

The Three Most Significant Lessons Learned

Heinz Landau
Heinz Landau is a seasoned business leader who has gained valuable working and leadership experience on three different continents.

Recently, I read an article in a business magazine where a seasoned CEO was asked what his three most significant lessons learned over his career were. That made me think what I would have answered, if I were confronted with this question.

Those people who know me will not be surprised that I will cite three people-related issues. After all, it is people that make things happen. People are defining the mission, the vision and a set of values. It is people who are crafting the strategy. And it is people who are implementing and executing the strategy. And, again, it is people who deliver the results (for all stakeholders, by the way).

Let me share with you now the three most significant lessons that I have learned in my career:

Hire the right people

It’s one of the most important decisions that you take. Spend time; get personally involved, but also listen to others. Use appropriate selection instruments that help you to discover matching candidates. Find good, motivated people with the right attitude, character and integrity. Make sure they fit to your existing team. Hire people who share a personal passion for your company’s cause.

One of my experiences is that it can be better to leave a position open for a while (sometimes even up to a year) rather than compromising too much on the quality of the candidate. A potential separation a few weeks, months or even years later is detrimental to the employee as well as the company.

One more tip: In the rare case that you have two outstanding candidates for a vacant position, hire them both. Sometimes, you might also come across talented people without having a vacancy. Again, the same philosophy applies: if you find a great potential employee, you do whatever you can to get him on the team – even if you have to create a new position or you have to change your budget. Sooner or later, the next vacancy will come up anyway.

Concluding, it can be said, having the right people on the team makes your life so much easier. They take care of their own area of responsibility and run it smoothly while you can focus on your own leadership and business agenda.

Inspire the employees

Create an inspiring vision that serves as a motivating course. For me, the 4 stakeholders approach has worked very well. Most employees will not like to chase only the numbers benefiting the shareholders, but like to see the company taking care also of its employees, its customers and the society. Especially the participation in CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) activities can be a strong motivator for employees. People want to feel good about themselves and about their company. They want to feel proud when they tell their friends and family where they work and what they do.

Conveying a sense of optimism for the future is also mandatory. Giving employees opportunities to learn, grow and to develop themselves further, setting ambitious goals and giving recognition and praise will also inspire and energize people.

Engage the employees

In order to lead others, you need to be able to connect with them, engage them and take them with you. The Gallup Organization defines employee engagement as the ability to capture the heads, hearts, and souls of your employees to instill an intrinsic desire and passion for excellence. A considerable number of managers address employees only on a rational, but not on an emotional level. However, it is absolutely crucial to reach out to your people’s heart. If people feel emotionally connected to you and the company, it leads to strong relationships and lasting emotional bonding.

Having a meaningful purpose behind the business that matches employees’ interest, providing people the opportunity to make a difference and a significant contribution will make them engaged. And, after all, we all understand that employee engagement is a driving force for business outcome.

What are your answers to the question “What are your three most important lessons learned so far in your career?”
Please leave a comment in the box below the blog or send me an e-mail.

This entry was posted on Sunday, September 6th, 2009 at 05:19 and is filed under Human Resources, Leadership, Management. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

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