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Retailer2retailer: Values-based leadership

January 19/26, 2015; Volume 28/Number 15

By Scott Perron

(Second of two parts)

Screen Shot 2015-01-19 at 2.17.46 PM“In the absence of great leadership, people will listen to anyone who steps up to the microphone.” In an instant I remembered that quote used by Mark Fernandes, chief leadership office at Luck Companies, at his Values Based Leadership educational session at Surfaces East this past October, as I had said the same thing hundreds of times.

Fernandes talked about both his personal and professional histories, and how this mindset established many years back was the reason for his success. He cited a number of businesses/brands that have pierced the veils of tragedy and defeat by instilling the simplest of ideas with aligning company and employee values from the top of their structures to the bottom—a feat that I assure you is easier said than done as it leaves no room for flexibility.

It is part of my mantra to explain to employees that my goal is to help them get what they want because, in turn, the company will get what it wants. Yet the margin for error in this exercise cannot be what we perceive it to be, but rather what is right—period.

Fernandes quoted facts from three major firms—Hay Group, Gallup and Carnegie—where studies reveal that a staggering 75% to 80% of all workers interviewed are currently disengaged at work, going through the motions or just showing up for a paycheck. His last report revealed that his company has 91% engagement—a result he promised took hard work day in and day out.

Not convinced? Next he told us how 2⁄3 of his personal income is derived from feedback on his performance from his employees and management. How many of you would put that power in your employees’ hands? The message to be heard here is you can’t just talk the talk; you have to walk the walk.

Big names like Trader Joe’s, Amazon, SAS, Google, Hobby Lobby, Southwest and more have empowered their own success by addressing the most crucial issues present in any business: leadership and engagement. As the new generation of employees and customers emerge, gone are the days of old school tactics practicing “motivation by intimidation.” This young group of smart individuals has no problem jumping from job to job several times before they settle into the right opportunity where arrogance and egomaniacal behavior are not the norm. Many of these millennials have watched their parents work 50 to 60 hours a week or more just to end up with the short end of the stick. The companies mentioned above have embraced new leadership principles and are attracting applicants by the thousands, which results in the companies having the best resources to pull from when adding members to their teams.

I could write for hours about this subject and not even scratch the surface of its power in building your companies. As luck would have it, Fernandes is presenting again at Surfaces in Las Vegas on Tuesday, Jan. 20 at 8:45 a.m. If you are in town, make it a point to spend 90 minutes in this man’s company; I promise you it will be time well spent. If you are like me it will bring a fresh perspective to the future of your business and alter its course for the better.

I suggest you write down your personal and business goals. Begin to realize the power in leading with strong values and start by living those ideals daily. Hold yourself most accountable for all results and use one simple rule when determining whether you are on the right path: the Golden Rule.