May 9/16, 2016; Volume 30, Number 23
By Lisbeth Calandrino
Recently I asked a longtime friend, Mark Scher, president of The Brandyl Agency, to speak with me about the difference between executives and executive leadership. In addition to owning a sales agency representing European ceramic/porcelain tile producers, he is a very active alumnus at his former university as well as a dedicated national volunteer of his collegiate fraternity. He is always looking for new ways to build a better team which shows through the success of both his businesses and volunteer efforts. Throughout his career and philanthropic efforts, he has seen many types of management styles
“Every company has executives; the difference is that sometimes the title is earned and other times the position is handed out,” he said. “No matter which one it is, once a person obtains the position he/she has to decide which type of executive he/she wants to be. Some want to rule with an iron fist while others want to build the company with a committed team in a more relaxed environment. This decision separates executives from leaders.”
This discussion comes on the heels of an announcement of Chobani Yogurt founder and CEO Hamdi Ulukaya, a Turkish immigrant who started a company with just a few employees in 2005 that raked in $1.6 billion in sales last year. Now, Ulukaya is passing the benefits down to his employees in the form of stock for his 2,000 full-time workers with shares of a 10% stake in the company. His dream is to have his employees continue to build with him to the future. Ulukaya exemplifies the executive leader who shares his success with his employees.
Scher explained the attributes of true executive leaders.
- Coaching a team to go beyond its capabilities. Instead of demanding respect from a team, it is automatically achieved as the team continues to grow. Employees feel valued based on the way they are treated.
- Respecting employees’ opinions to build a solid team. Just saying “please” and “thank you” shows simple gratitude for a team’s work. It also helps foster a pleasant environment where each team member strives to become a more important asset to the organization.
- Building confidence by remaining positive. It is human nature to appreciate praise; once we taste it, we naturally want more. By leading in this way an executive has created the groundwork for higher morale as well as a more productive employee. This employee will work harder for the leader, taking true ownership of his/her job.
- Having an “open-door” policy that truly is that. In this environment, employees are always welcome to offer opinions without positive or negative repercussions. After all, it is that employee who is on the front lines every day and can understand the possible enhancements that can be made to increase productivity. In addition, this can head off problems before they are insurmountable.
- Allowing employees to share in the good fortune of the company with transparency. This can take the form of higher pay, a bonus for a goal reached, added vacation or even some simple award recognizing an employee or department. The more employees feel like they are part of the success, the harder they will work.
“No matter your age, race, religion or what country you are from, we all share the same human emotions, feelings and a desire to belong to something bigger than ourselves,” Scher concluded. “It is the true leader who recognizes the commitment and hard work of their employees.”