The world is changing faster than ever before – and successful businesses pivot along with it.
But there are levels of success. Organizations that adapt to change, survive. That’s one level – and it’s perfectly fine. By comparison, exceptional businesses and their leaders take things to the next level, swimming strongly against the tide and taking their best people with them. Their goal extends beyond survival to thrival: defined by the Urban Dictionary as “out of survival mode and into an optimal state of health, vitality, joy, and well-being.” Sounds pretty awesome, right?
Here are three lessons that can be learned from business leaders who have thrived.
Be the Customer
Indra Nooyi, former CEO of Pepsico, personified thrival. One of her strongest business tactics was asking her employees to think of themselves not just as representatives of their customers, but as customers themselves. Nooyi practiced what she preached, making regular visits to retail stores part of her MO. Similarly:
- Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is an avid reader. By learning first-hand the desires and needs of this and other targeted customer segments, he made his company the iconic success story it is today.
- Apple founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak shared a common passion for music. They spent time hunting through stores together to collect rare albums, and master the real needs of listeners. And the rest is history.
In the 90s, Nissan Japan was facing bankruptcy when it was purchased by Renault. Carlos Ghosn, then CEO of Renault, had the ominous job of shutting down five Nissan factories, which were operating at severe losses. On his arrival, Ghosn told Nissan employees, “I am here for one reason: to fix the company. I came to Japan not for the sake of Renault, but for Nissan.”
He went on to explain in clear, honest terms the reasons behind the plant closures: that they were not helping Nissan employees, but rather, were helping competitors’ interests. This enabled Ghosn to earn trust, even in the face of inevitable adversity. Similarly:
- Rick Levin, president of Yale University in the 1980s, had to make some major changes to keep the institution from losing its top-tier Ivy League status. To do so, he had to drive controversial development in Yale’s hometown of New Haven, CT. Levin required every employee and student to become active in urban community service. This enabled the needed development efforts to be greenlighted and trust to be cemented.
Being an active listener is a key leadership skill. Ghosn was a master at it, spending time talking to employees, asking them open-ended questions, and seeking their feedback. Also:
- On the schedule of Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO of Dreamworks Animation: meet his employees for meals in casual settings where everyone is comfortable and relaxed. It helped people to connect and ideas and innovation to flourish.
Looking to Further Grow Your Business? We Can Help!
As you grow your business, with thrival as your goal, consider partnering with Key HR to help with your leadership development and other talent management needs including payroll, employee leasing, benefits, and insurance. Contact us today to learn more.
- Posted by admin
- On March 15, 2023
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