Not everybody with management responsibilities is actually a great leader. They may have attained a position of leadership through means other than earning it. Still, just because you weren't born great, doesn't mean you can't achieve it with a few adjustments. On a recent episode of my podcast YPO 10 Minute Tips from the Top, I interviewed Henco Logistics CEO Simon Cohen, who is truly a great leader.
Cohen, a member of the Young Presidents' Organization (YPO), in very short order, has grown Henco exponentially to be the largest logistics company in Mexico. His company attracts the best people due to Cohen's leadership approach to productivity, happiness, and gratitude. He shared the critical components of a great leader.
1. Have mutual respect and trust for your employees.
For many managers, giving up control can be a tough thing when the stakes are so high and any mistake could potentially lead to grave consequence. Cohen insists that successful delegation really comes down to respecting your employees' abilities and trusting they will give their best all the time. "I trust that my people will do [the job] much better than me," he stated. If you show them the trust, they will rise to the occasion.
2. Listen, listen, listen!
Many managers struggle taking feedback and criticism from those reporting to them. But Cohen emphatically encourages those conversations, regardless of the ego hits, because it is the only true way to grow. The conflict can be healthy to surface real issues that would otherwise remain hidden. In the worst case, at least you won't worry about what's being missed. "We listen to our people. We respect that they think different. We agree to disagree," Cohen stated.
3. Create structure.
Many companies struggle with figuring who exactly should do what and where. Cohen believes in teams made of individuals with varied capabilities who can be held individually accountable for their expertise. For example, each team at Henco is structured with an administrator, an operator, an integrator, and an entrepreneur. Cohen explains how it was crucial to include a good integrator on each team to make sure everyone works together and that his "entrepreneurs" bring a mindset of how to sell more, go further, or buy better so they will drive innovation.
4. Empower people.
Cohen noted that as CEO, his greatest challenge was figuring out how to get people to take flight on their own. As a manager, he sees his role as that of a thumb, interacting with each of the departments, receiving and giving feedback. But to get his people to step up and drive the company forward, they need the type of support and encouragement that will empower them. His approach is simple, "If you want to make people to think as owners, you have to make them owners."
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