A measure of success Featured

7:00pm EDT November 25, 2008

For Matt Coltharp, passion is an important part of being a leader.

And the president of The Cyril-Scott Co. makes sure he shows his passion in his work every day, because he never knows when he may be meeting someone for the first time.

Coltharp says that passion is contagious, and you need to have people around you who share it with you so that they can share it with others.

“Passion gives me a quick measure on if somebody wants to be successful or not,” he says. “If I’m passionate in insinuating the positive all the time, then the people who report to me will be in the same mode constantly.”

Coltharp’s passion for the job has helped him lead his 260 employees at the commercial printing company — which also supplies creative and direct mail services — to 2007 revenue of $40 million.

Smart Business spoke with Coltharp about how to find people who share your passion and how to use that passion to help your company prosper.

Put the right people in place. You need to make sure you have the right people in the right place. Sometimes people don’t have the right people in the right place; you don’t have someone who can reflect your leadership style, your level of enthusiasm and your energy and passion level.

There’s nothing worse than a roadblock, and if you’ve got the wrong people in the wrong place, that tends to equate to a lot of roadblocks in your organization, which is tough to communicate your message.

It starts with a positive attitude. You’ve got to be positive, you’ve got to think positive and act positive, and positive things are going to happen. It all goes back to passion — somebody who’s not afraid to work and has a good work ethic and without a doubt is a good team player.

Most oftentimes, you’ve only got 30 minutes to an hour to interview somebody. And I had many interviews back in college where the interviewer did their best to make me feel uncomfortable. I don’t believe I can pass judgment on a person without getting to know them, and if you pin them into a corner where there’s no way out, I don’t think you get to know the person.

I have a good, enthusiastic conversation with them that oftentimes isn’t even about the job at hand. That tells me more about the person in the time that I’m given to find out what their makeup is. It’s not going to tell you everything you want to know, but you’re going to learn a lot more from somebody by talking to them on the level they can relate to as opposed to tricking them. You get much better people that way than by making them feel uncomfortable and not knowing how to answer it or having no confidence in my 30 minutes to an hour time.

You can make progress quickly in an organization. If you have the right people in the right place, that means your entire management team and key people are thinking the same. If you’re thinking the same, you can make the decisions that you need to make to improve your company.

Lead by example. You have to be consistent in what you do. If I were to show up at 8, 8:15 every day and leave at 4:45 or 5, I’m going to have a company full of people doing that.

I’m usually the first one in my company every morning.

While I’m not always the last to leave, I know what I’m going to be doing the next day, and I expect my people to do the same thing. It puts you on an even playing field — I’m not asking you to do anything that I cannot do or that I do not do or I do not believe in doing.

You have to be consistent in your message. Once your message is established, you have to live it and not be afraid to make decisions. Leading by example is accentuating the positives and putting the right people in positions to be successful for the outcomes that you desire for your company.

Repetition is a good thing. If you focus on a message and are consistent, it comes to take effect, comes to take hold of your organization. If you stay consistent and don’t ever stray from that, then, in time, people are going to understand and your organization will understand this is the way we’re doing things going forward.

Keep focused on your message. The most important thing would be to not lose focus of your message. Whether that message is energy, enthusiasm, you have to live it and breathe it every single day because consistency is going to be the No. 1 reason a leader’s message gets established and followed. So consistency in the message and the self-confidence to know that you are the leader and are making the decisions that are the best fit for your group and company.

If you let up on your belief in that message or that goal or vision, then people are going to let up on it, as well.

The simple answer is to recommunicate. I’ve seen the mistake made that when business is good, people often forget where they’ve been, and that is a motivating factor. All ships rise in high tides ... so when the ship’s not rising, tide’s not high.

You’ve always got to be prepared with what to do for when the tide is high again. I like to consistently refocus our efforts and remind people of where we were and what we focused on in the business.

HOW TO REACH: The Cyril-Scott Co., (740) 654-2112 or www.cyrilscott.com