Mixing it up

Perry Miele likes to roll up
his sleeves and get involved in the day-to-day operations of Budco, but he also
knows that it’s his job to look at
the company from 30,000 feet.

Miele says that, as a leader,
it’s important to help out in the
organization where needed
because doing so shows that
you are committed to every part
of the company.

But Miele, who serves as chairman of the marketing servicescompany, says the pitfall is that
you can get involved in so
much detail that you forget
everyone is expecting you to
get up to 30,000 feet and show
each person where you want to
take the company strategically.
You need to rise to that level
and make those decisions with
all the information that you’ve
gathered at ground level, says
Miele, who led Budco and its
600 employees to 2006 revenue
of approximately $100 million.

Smart Business spoke with
Miele about how to make the
tough decisions and about the
benefits of working up close
with employees.

Make the tough decisions. As
leaders, we have to be ready
to make decisions and not be
afraid to make mistakes.

I think good leaders are not
afraid to make the decisions
and, in doing so, are not afraid
to make mistakes. If you make
10 decisions, yes, a couple of
them are going to be wrong,
but the key is you made it, and
what that does is that sets a
great tone with your team that
they’ve got someone in charge
who knows where we’re going
and is willing to make the
decisions to get us there.

To be decisive, I think, first
of all, you need to gather as
many of the facts that you can,
but don’t get caught up with
analysis paralysis. Get your
information and get enough on
the table that you think you
can make a decision. Part of
that means also listening to
your senior managers. Then,
based on what you’ve gathered, your experience yourself,
the view from your senior
management team, you’ve got
to make a decision.

Lead with passion. I’ve met a lot
of people who are bright and
capable but demonstrated no
passion about the business or
what they work at. Passion is
infectious and also what
inspires the managers and
employees that work with you.

It comes naturally. The people who have become leaders,
the good leaders … you look
back and you’ve found that,
that individual, man or
woman, has been passionate
about what they did. They
believed in the product, they
believed in the company. Then,
what they did was, they let it
out, they let everyone know
that they were passionate
about it. What happens is it really fires up and inspires
those who work around them,
and they want to go the extra
effort because they look at
their leader and they see the
effort and the passion that person has put into it.

You have to inspire the team
around you so that everyone
feels the same emotional commitment that you do. If I can get
my entire management team to
have the same emotional commitment that I do as a leader,
then I think I’ve been successful
from demonstrating the passion
I have for the business.

Motivate by leading by example. If
you are not willing to roll up
your sleeves and get down and
sweat out the details with your
front-line employees, then anything you say or do is just rhetoric that they’ve all heard before.

If I am willing to get down
and figure it out with them and
get involved in a problem at
whatever level and whatever
effort it takes, if I’m willing to
spend a weekend working out a
problem with them side by side,
then they really believe you are
passionate, they believe you are
committed, and then you’re
now beginning to take the steps
that help you lead change and
motivate people.

If you’re going to preach that,
‘We need to improve products
and be innovative,’ then your
team has to see you spending
time with clients and listening
to what kind of things they’re
looking for, then actually participating in developing and brainstorming ideas to improve
that product. They need to see
right then and there, talking
about it, working in committees, trying to solve those problems versus just pontificating
about an idea and innovation
and then disappearing.

Focus on the client. Your key
focus on everything you do
should be driven by the clients’
needs and providing them with
innovation without being
asked. As a leader, what most
of us try to do is try to keep all
our employees and managers
focused on, ‘What have we
done for our client today?’

No. 1, we’ve worked hard and
built into our culture, created an
innovation culture, to the point
of awards have been designed
and created, peer-to-peer awards. We’ve built it all the
way down into every level of
the organization — how people
get rewarded and how much
pride is taken in the innovation.

The second point is, I spend
a lot of time with clients in
finding out how we are doing
with our products, with the
service, and I bring the information back.

The third thing is, we begin
most of our key operations
meetings, and the first question is, ‘What are the clients
saying today about our product? What’s the feedback?’ We
open the meeting with those
kinds of issues and questions
and begin with, ‘How are the
clients doing; what is their

HOW TO REACH: Budco, (888) BUDCO-40 or www.budco.com