Recipe for success Featured

9:46am EDT July 22, 2002
Most of us at one time have watched Oprah Winfrey or Jerry Springer. Believe it or not, your leadership style probably resembles one or the other.

Both have growing and profitable businesses, are competitive, hard working, persistent, and believe strongly in the social causes that impact their lives. This, however, is where the similarities end.

A pinch of Oprah

Oprah views her show as a teaching tool that presents positive role models and what is right with the world. She believes that while we are learning, growing and taking responsibility for our own lives, we can serve as inspirational leaders for others.

If we are passionate about our life’s mission, and are kind and considerate toward others, Oprah claims we can achieve a higher level of success than we imagined.

Since people are the heart of our businesses, she says we need to treat them with trust and compassion in order to make a difference. Oprah believes our greatness will be determined by our service to others and dedication to a larger purpose in our lives.

A sprinkle of Jerry

Jerry views his show as a vehicle to display the outrageousness in society and to expose the ludicrous beliefs, attitudes and prejudices of people. Jerry believes this is what people want.

His ratings prove that as the fighting and outrageousness increase, so does the number of viewers. While Oprah sees her show as a teaching tool for her larger mission to help others, Jerry sees his role as a paid entertainer exposing what is wrong with the world.

So what’s your company’s make-up?

To evaluate whether your leadership style is more like Oprah or Jerry, ask the following questions:

  • Is your goal to maximize earnings through whatever means necessary?

  • Do your beliefs appear through your work? Are those work beliefs and ethics different from your home beliefs?

  • Do you let people act outrageously if they are good producers?

  • Do you hire people who have a team attitude or free agents who provide immediate skills without caring for the team?

  • Is your company a developmental vehicle to help others learn and grow, or merely a financial tool to get a return on investment?

  • Do you spend the majority of your time controlling and managing the outrageousness around you or do you lead the team with a higher purpose and vision?

Add more Oprah for better flavor

To have an Oprah-style organization, you must believe that your organization has a larger purpose than just making money. You must believe that learning, growing and helping others and earning excellent financial returns are not mutually exclusive.

So how do you add those traits? Try these five steps:

  • When making a decision, ask whether your action is in concert with the values you teach your children.

  • Even if somebody is a great producer, if that person is destructive to the team attitude, find the opportunity to release him or her.

  • When hiring, be more concerned with personal and social characteristics (such as trust, empathy, compassion and family background) than you are with their immediate skill set. You can teach skills quicker than you can attempt to mold or change attitude.

  • Develop a personal development program for people who report to you. Do not limit this to skills immediately needed for their positions.

  • Publicize and present a larger vision for the corporation that not only shows a care for finances, but also a care for growing people.

All great things happen through people. If you want to lead your organization toward the best results, you must be people focused first and profit focused second.

If you take care to hire, develop and lead your people with a shared positive vision, the profit will take care of itself.

Michael Foti ( is CEO of Cleveland Glass Block Inc. He can be reached at (216) 531-6363.