Ritch Eich, President, Eich Associated
Longtime managers, top executives and CEOs with many years of experience in business possess a special responsibility to their employees and especially the younger managers coming up the organization’s ranks. The senior business leader possesses decades of wisdom, has seen success and failure, and is in a unique position to capture a wide audience when sharing business lessons of a lifetime. My many years in management in the fields of healthcare, marketing and education, as well as my time as an officer in the United States Navy and my work with non-profits, has put me in that special position.
Here are eight nuggets of business wisdom I’ve gathered over the years that will help senior leaders move their organizations – and their own goals – forward.
1. Be a Mentor. You will be respected and admired for giving a helping hand to those in the organization who show promise. It’s personally rewarding and good for the company to help develop a pipeline of competent, capable and loyal future leaders and to encourage the brightest junior employees and managers to move up within the organization. The current crop of senior leaders at the business, after all, won’t be working there forever.
2. Take Care of Your Team. Trust your team and let team members shine but also ultimately accept responsibility. Delegating isn’t a license to pass the buck. People want to feel appreciated. Take care of your employees and they will stay loyal to the organization. Respect them, get to know your employees by name, thank them for their hard work and pay them a decent wage.
3. Civility and Compromise are Essential. Lots of people think that if you compromise, you’re weak. Nothing could be further from the truth. Executives who compromise come across as caring leaders who are able to put others before themselves and who go out of their way to spend time understanding a differing point of view, even if they don’t act on it. Incivility impedes productivity – and profits. You can never lose when choosing to be civil in your business dealings and dealings with junior employees.
4. Embrace the Arts. One constant in business is the need for leaders who can inspire and bring creativity to the challenge of global competition. Today, increasing numbers of business leaders are recognizing the power of the arts: theater, dance, music, the visual arts and film. People with artistic ability or training bring essential skills to the workplace, including: tenacity, discipline, mental acuity, the ability to work as a team and collaborate, innovation and self-confidence. In addition, the arts have long been recognized for their power to heal, provide calm during a storm, and keep mental clouds at bay. The arts may be just the mental break from routine your team needs to clear their minds when work demands get tough or overwhelming. Re-think your workplace. Turn on the stereo, build a garden, or create an art gallery. Take your team to a play, dance performance, art exhibit or musical.
5. Veterans Make Great Employees and Leaders in Business, Not Just on the Battlefield. Companies seeking ethical leadership, workers with integrity and committed employees should look to military personnel coming home. Veterans have demonstrated remarkable flexibility in life-and-death situations, have experienced overcoming practically every form of adversity, and have gained knowledge leading and motivating others and excelling with major responsibilities. Members of the armed forces frequently have impressive résumés documenting their composure and clear thinking under fire, proven leadership under harsh conditions, supervisory experience, dedication and a resolve to succeed.
6. Embrace Diversity. It’s important to create a positive organizational climate that does not tolerate biases, discrimination, bullying and other forms of hostility that demean and discourage women and ethnic minorities. CEOs who are genuine leaders guide their C-suite teams in establishing salary equity and create systems that enable women and minorities to feel comfortable, highly valued and included. They appreciate that women and minorities bring varied points of view and new ideas to the table.
7. Avoid Self-Promotion and Publicity Stunts. Others can see through publicity stunts and they can backfire and damage your reputation. Too much self-promotion is obvious and obnoxious.
8. Never Stop Learning. Old dogs can learn new tricks. Seek an advanced degree or work on a new certificate program to continue learning and expand your skill set. Even the most senior business executive can learn something new. Your peers will respect your efforts to better yourself at any age.
About the Author
Ritch Eich is the author of Truth, Trust + Tenacity: How Ordinary People Become Extraordinary Leaders. He is president of Eich Associated, and a retired captain, U.S. Naval Reserve who commanded three naval reserve units and served in NATO, JCS, Atlantic and Pacific Fleets. He is also the author of Real Leaders Don’t Boss (2012) and Leadership Requires Extra Innings (2013). Eich has a Ph.D in organizational behavior and communication.