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