Insights

9 Ways to Put People First

Jun 13, 2018 | Leadership Lounge

CEO Spotlight:  Kimberly Cutchall

The number nine (9) is a significant number. In some cultures, the number nine is revered and represents longevity, patience, and creation. The number nine is also considered the number of magic and the symbol of wisdom and good leadership.

I like symbolism because it provides a deeper, more significant interpretation. Symbolism connects to the connections and helps further shape the meaning, emotion—and memory—around something important.

The Number Nine is certainly important to us. At Accendo, the Number Nine is the number of years we’ve marked off the calendar. Happy 9th Birthday, Accendo!

Cause for celebration? Yes! Give thanks? YES. Pause and exhale? Yes and yes. But when I think about what birthdays really mean, aside from a time to eat handfuls of cake and blow out some candles, two things come to mind – reflection and gratitude.

Our ninth year symbolizes more than just a milestone, it represents a renewal. A new year, new opportunities to connect with others, and a great reason to launch our brand-new website.

From the beginning, Accendo’s sole focus and purpose has been to help individuals, teams, and organizations reach their potential. We are lucky that we get to work with leaders who, as a priority, invest in their most valuable asset – their people. For this, we are grateful. It drives us and makes us excited to come to work every day.

Throughout our nine years, we have seen first-hand the impact that connected, engaged employees around the globe can have on an organization’s future. To honor this auspicious number, one that is said to symbolize truth, inspiration, and the perfection of ideas, I am outlining Nine Ways to Put People First.

Over the course of this ninth year, we will drill down on each of these Nine Ways to Put People First to explore actionable ways you might implement – or improve upon – these concepts. Consider it a good reason for some self-examination. Yes, that’s right, another bit of symbolism of the number nine. (See? I told you nine was significant.)

Nine Ways to Put People First

1. HIRE FOR TALENT. TRAIN FOR SKILLS AND KNOWLEDGE
  • It ALL starts with Talent. Everything else can be learned. Success starts with the individual’s talent canvas from which they can learn what and how to implement the role successfully.
  • Yes, experience and specific skills sometimes matter A LOT, but you can still first properly vet for talent to ensure success.
2. STOP FOCUSING ON A NUMBER AS A WAY TO GET THERE
  • Sure, numbers and trends are important to track and exciting to share, but ONLY managing your bottom line is a mistake.
  • Make sure to clarify, drive, and measure the behaviors that will result in the financial numbers.
  • By just focusing on a “number”, you risk your people making themselves very “busy” (read: not impactful, but really tired) on activity they think will lead to the outcomes, without clarity – and synergy – of individual and team focus.
3. KNOW IF AND WHEN TO PROMOTE
  • Success in current role doesn’t always equal success in next role.
  • Vet each promotion and movement like a new hire/new interviewing process to ensure best person is placed in each role. (Bonus: the person – and his/her peers – will know this was an earned promotion with the right person in the right position.)
4. ENSURE THAT TALENT AND DESIRE INTERSECT
  • A person has to have the talent for the role AND the desire to go for it. One or the other won’t get to sustainable and impressive results.
  • Ever know a person with great talent in something – sports, writing, art, but had NO desire to train, practice, and do whatever it took to be successful? Or what about great desire, heart, passion, and willingness to work HARD at something they really didn’t have true talent for? The combination of both is the winning combination for success.
5. BE A LEARNING LEADER
  • Best organizations have leaders who are voracious learners. They always want to learn and to be better. Every day. Every. Day. There is humility in being a learner.
  • Learning Leaders inspire learning among peers and direct reports.
  • Learning is a curiosity that becomes contagious to continuously find ways to make you, your team, and organization better.
6. HIRE A COACH
  • Like an Olympian or top-tier athlete, the very best executives invest in coaching. A good coach can give even the most experienced leader insight into themselves, their talent, their role, and their team.
  • Through an ongoing process of objective, confidential, direct, and specific feedback, a coach will help you achieve goals, overcome challenges, and level up in your role—even if that role is CEO. (especially if…)
7. SHOW COURAGE
  • Showing organizational courage shows people what matter. This is how you hire, develop, and coach your team with honesty, integrity, and candidness.
  • Great leaders show courage through patience, accountability, and dedication to healthy team dynamics, and they are not afraid to stop bad workplace behavior or make tough people decisions.
8. ACT AS A CULTURAL CATALYST
  • Culture happens – whether you intentionally create it or not. So “no culture” becomes THE culture.
  • Putting the intentionality behind your actions will demonstrate to your teams that creating, building, and nurturing culture matters… it’s WHY they come to work every day.
9. SHARE AND CELEBRATE
  • Work is work. But you should take time to celebrate achievements.
  • Recognizing success is powerful. It has two parts: Share and Celebrate
  • A cool part of human nature is we love celebration and sharing successes – this makes us want to repeat what got us here. Rinse. Repeat.

These nine insights lead to one important concept: Put people first. Before products. Before systems. Before processes. GREAT people will help you manufacturer widgets, sell products, build systems, save lives, lead teams, avoid crises, handle downturns, market products, deliver process effectiveness, AND… turn an impressive margin.

As we celebrate our 9th year in business, I am left with one more intriguing Number Nine.  In the evolution of numbers and mathematics, dating back to the 1st century, the earliest depiction of the number “9” resembled our modern-day question mark.  This is a constant reminder to keep asking questions, keep asking why.  We all get better with a little introspection. Which got me wondering…what will our 10th year bring?

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