Trust, respect and responsibility form the cornerstone of this Cox employee’s leadership philosophy.
As a technology leader at Cox Communications, I have the opportunity to lead and manage others. I believe in contributing to a culture that espouses authenticity, honesty and transparency, and it’s in that vein that I’d love to share my personal leadership philosophy with you.
Whether you’re a new manager or a seasoned leader, I hope you find these lessons to be valuable in your own career!
1. Customize your leadership.
There’s no “one-size-fits-all” style of leadership. Every person is different and therefore responds differently to various styles, and it’s up to us to adapt to each individual so we can be at our most effective.
Leadership should also be customized based on the situation. I think in terms of directions when considering how to lead others. For example:
- Lead from the front when there are obstacles to overcome. Set an example and chart a bold path forward.
- Lead from the side when there are learning and coaching opportunities. Step alongside your people to help support them.
- Lead from behind when there are awards, accolades and heightened visibility available to those under your charge. Champion others and put them in the spotlight.
2. Look for the root of the problem.
For every problem, there is more than one cause. As leaders, it’s up to us to get to the core issue from which all resulting issues arise, be it with employees or customers. Only then can we properly address what’s really going on. The “5 Whys” method helps tremendously in root cause analysis. To discover the real problem, ask “why?” five times. For example:
The problem: a project was not completed on time.
- Why? The employee put off starting it until the day before it was due.
- Why? The employee didn’t have time to tackle the project until the last minute.
- Why? Several projects piled up on the employee’s plate.
- Why? The employee didn’t plan for the week’s projects.
- Why? The employee has an opportunity to improve time and project management skills.
Keep in mind that this exercise is not an opportunity to scold an employee; it’s a chance to acknowledge the problem and resolve it at the source by offering resources and training on how to improve.
3. Make today better than yesterday.
Each day is a chance to make a positive impact on our team, our customers and even the world at large. My philosophy is that leaders should seize every opportunity to support anyone with whom we cross paths. Have a chance to make someone’s work-life balance better? Take it! Is there a way to be a better ally to a team member? If so, do it! Even the smallest of gestures can improve someone’s day, so never miss a good moment for kindness.
4. If they win, you win.
When you’re a leader of people, their successes are yours. Empower your people to become the best they can possibly be. It will contribute to their reputation as well as your own. When you lead a team, you’re making a promise that your team is in it together, whether we sink or swim. It behooves a leader to do everything they can to help their team reach their potential!
5. Embrace with grace.
Plenty of things in our world are identical, as they should be. A carton of eggs, a pack of gum or a new pair of shoes aren’t items for which you want discrepancies in size, shape or color (and if so, what kind of gum are you buying, anyway?).
Now think about your team. Are they pretty much identical? Probably not!
Every team is made up of different people of all different kinds, and those differences are what make them special. Each person has their own strengths and weaknesses, and as leaders, we are responsible for understanding both and embracing unique perspectives and backgrounds. Inclusion yields trust. Trust yields great work.
6. Train them, then trust them.
A good leader measures success by how often people go to their team for help rather than them. Others know they can rely on any member of that leader’s team to have an answer or be of assistance. Have faith in your employees and trust that they know what they’re doing. This way, the employees feel a sense of agency, autonomy and confidence – and those things help make new leaders as well.
7. Zoom out and consider the bigger picture.
As a leader, nothing you do happens in a vacuum. So as you make decisions, ask yourself how it impacts your team.
Does a decision you make help you, our team, the company or all of society? Does it improve the quality of the day, the month, the year or our entire future? You can’t be near-sighted or have tunnel vision as leaders; you must understand the implications of your choices and how they impact everyone in the long run. Take the calculated risks. Make the big decisions. And understand how the people around you will be affected.
8. Remember the Golden Rule.
This one is rather simple. It’s an idea that exists in many cultures, belief systems and society at large: treat others how you would like to be treated. We spend roughly a third of our lives with our coworkers, so why wouldn’t we treat them all with dignity? Not everyone will get along perfectly all the time, of course, but when you practice respect, empathy and professionalism, things run a lot more smoothly. As you make business decisions and go about the day-to-day operations of your job, put yourself in others’ shoes. Are you treating people the same way you’d like to be treated?
9. There is a leader in us all.
Perhaps you’re reading this article and thinking: “But I’m not a manager or a leader yet!”
The truth is, real leaders don’t need titles; they have the qualities of leadership whether they manage people or not. Lead by example and those around you will notice. They’ll likely follow as well. Remember that everyone has the potential to be a great leader who supports their team, removes obstacles to their success and cheers their team on as they find their own victories, both personal and professional.