Are you a purposeful leader?
Minnesota-based Best Buy Co., Inc. is the leading consumer electronics retailer in the US.
However, in 2012, the general outlook was that Best Buy was finished! Its days were past numbered. It was truly on its last legs.
Enter Hubert Joly as the new CEO. From France, but with American connections and experiences, he had a history of successful turnarounds.
He figured out what to do to help Best Buy return, and then go even higher. Best Buy is now flourishing.
Hubert Joly’s recent book “The Heart of Business”, tells of his personal business philosophy, which includes his time at Best Buy.
What follows are what Joly calls the five “Be’s” of purposeful leadership:
- Be clear about your purpose, the purpose of people around you, and how it connects with the purpose of the company.
You can be completely clear on your own purpose and that of your organisation, but if you don’t know what drives the people around you you will not get anywhere.Without that knowledge, it’s difficult to help them connect their own purposes with the organisation’s, and provide a common, overarching pull for all team members.Ask the important questions to your team regarding their dreams and purpose. “What gives you energy?” “What drives you?”
- Be clear about your role as a leader.Be a thermostat, rather than a thermometer, and set the temperature according to the occasion.In other words, you cannot choose circumstances, but you can control your mindset. Your mindset determines whether you generate hope, inspiration, and energy around you – or bring everyone down. So, choose well.
Your role as a leader is to create energy and momentum – especially when circumstances are dire. Help others see possibilities and potential.
Put another way, supposedly by John Quincy Adams: “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”
- Be clear about whom you serve.“If you believe you’re serving yourself, your boss, or me as the CEO of the company, it’s okay – it’s your choice,” Joly once said to the officers of Best Buy. “But then you should not work here. You should be promoted to customer.”
Some leaders think that having sharp elbows and listening to their ego will serve their career.
However, the best leaders do not climb to the top, they are carried to the top. And serving others is how it happens. Treat everyone like a customer.
- Be driven by values.On paper, every company has great values. But values are useless if they remain on paper.
A leader’s role is to live by these values, explicitly promote them, and make sure they are part of the fabric of the business.
Knowing and doing what is right is not always simple, of course. But Harvard Professor Clayton Christensen points out that it is easier to stick to your principles 100 percent of the time than it is to stick to them 98 percent of the time: the marginal cost of doing something that goes against your values “just this once” might appear temptingly low, but can result in disaster.
Holding on to values is particularly critical during crises, when stress and pressure push against our sense of what’s right.
Doing the right thing is much more difficult than it sounds.
But you don’t have to figure it out on your own if you surround yourself with people you trust and whose values align with yours and the organisation’s. You will determine the right thing together and then act on it the best you can.
- Be authentic.
Vulnerability is at the heart of social connection. Social connection, in turn, is at the heart of business.
Old style management principles held that emotions were not meant to be shared in a business context.
That has all changed. The new generation of leaders seem to grasp more intuitively and naturally the concept of “Be”: Be yourself, your true self, your whole self, the best version of yourself. Be vulnerable. Be authentic.
Our employees are expecting us to be human, and they expect us to grasp who they are and make them feel respected, heard, understood, and included.
This means we have to open up and make ourselves vulnerable, including by acknowledging what we do not know.
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I hope you have enjoyed these insights. Have a great week and stay growth-focused!
+61 (0) 408 748 980