Colleen Barrett, past president of Southwest Airlines, and Garry Ridge, president and CEO of WD-40 Company both spoke at The Ken Blanchard Companies recent 2010 Client Summit. Each leader talked about the ways that they have created a close-knit, high performing culture in their organizations through a combination of high expectations with a sense of caring that is very unique in business today.
Most leaders believe that focusing on people versus focusing on performance is an either/or decision. The belief is that you can’t have both. Still for some reason, Southwest and WD-40 have been able to pull it off. They have been able to create a caring culture and industry leading results year after year. How are they able to strike this perfect balance? It all begins in an important two foot space within each organization—the distance between managers and their direct reports. By holding their managers accountable for creating an environment that features equal amounts of trust, respect, and accountability, they are able to drive results and create an environment where people feel proud and cared for.
Would you like to build some of that same spirit into your organization? Here are three tips for getting started.
Take the time to connect. Find out a little bit more about your direct reports. Share a little bit more about yourself. Create a people-based connection.
Demonstrate trust. Trust is an important component in any relationship. Cultivate trust by being transparent in your thinking. Demonstrate trust by doing what you say you’ll do. Show that you are consistent and can be relied upon.
Have high expectations. Expect a lot from your people and encourage them to expect a lot from you in return. Once you’ve set up a foundation of trust and respect you have the ability to ask for more from your employees and to hold them accountable for delivering on it.
Too many organizations today act as if the human element is unimportant. Leaders and managers don’t take the time to build connections or demonstrate trust. But this short-cut comes back to haunt them when it’s time to set goals and hold people accountable for achieving them. Without a relationship in place, it’s hard to ask people to give their best—and even more difficult to have a conversation when performance comes up short. Don’t let this happen in your organization. Follow the example set by great companies like Southwest Airlines and WD-40. Practice trust and respect-based relationships that get results and creates a winning, people-based spirit.