As a CEO, you should not want to be loved or even liked, but if you can’t earn the respect of every single person, you should quit. As leader, you are a failure. So how do you get respect? The answer is through fairness. And how do you get fairness? The answer is through the amount of time that you take to share the information to get to consensus, the time to share the information until everybody gets it. When everybody gets it, then we can all buy into it. And when we can all buy into it, we pull in the same direction. If we all get the right baseline information, then we all have an opportunity to get to the same answer. It takes time to share enough information, information that leads to a decision so that those people can think of themselves in your position and say, “Given this situation and this and this and this, I would make the decision this way; and now, that I see what position you were in, I think what you did was fair.” So, time spent sharing information is the key to getting respect and to being a great leader. Thought Leadership screw up by not understanding respect, by refusing to sit down and take the time with the team for that. That’s where they fail.
Never set your sights too low. You may hit them.
The leader’s rule No. 1 is “Never raise your voice” because nobody will follow a raving lunatic. When you yell at them, you show you don’t respect them and you don’t appreciate that they make money for you. Where did I get the lunatic phrase? I was CEO in a Radica board meeting when a new board member raised the issue of Rule No. 1: never raising your voice (actually, I think you can raise it once, for dramatic effect only). This new member pushed me to see if I had ever “slipped.” I paused a moment and, “No, I had never slipped.” He said: “Come on! You mean you never slipped?” I asked Lam Siu Wing (whom I placed on the board as the Chinese culture expert) who had been with the company since the first day and told him to be perfectly honest if he had seen me raise my voice. He thought a minute and said: “No, not in 13 years, never.” The new member said: “How is that possible?” I then off the cuff asked him if he would follow a “raving lunatic.” The Chairman said: “Next subject.” If I heard someone in the company raising their voice, I would say, “You are speaking so loud, I cannot hear you.”
Never create a false deadline. If you are found out, you will lose your credibility. Once you set a false deadline, they’ll never trust you again. And if they don’t meet the real deadline then you have a “come to Jesus talk” to learn why we missed.
It’s about ownership again (who owns the problem), about honesty and about whether you’re going to lead by manipulation or by giving someone else ownership of that deadline. You have to build a culture where everybody trusts everybody. But if they know that you are giving them a false deadline, then they can no longer trust you. They have to learn that everything you say is true. Because the first time they catch you in a lie it’s over. You’re no longer a leader.
Making a Person Better
My job is to make every employee a better person. If we can’t hold them in our company, we shouldn’t have them. If they find a better opportunity, I’ll send them the best wishes. But, I do all I can to hold them.
Marketing Your Creativity
Creativity is a subset of talent. I have not seen people who can create creativity. It is innate. That does not mean that it cannot be developed and nurtured (like giving confidence to use it); it needs discipline. Also, your creativity has to be communicated: There’s no value if it remains in your head. As stated earlier, communication is the foundation. Communication is a sub-set of discipline and is critical for success. Charisma is also a subset of communication, charisma is the ability to get people to listen to you, whether you are selling your idea or being a leader. Those people with charisma are candidates for leadership. To be a great leader, you need “all the ingredients in the cake”.
As a trained Industrial Designer, I believe that to be successful, you have to have creative skills that are purely natural; I have not seen creativity taught. At Art Center College of Design, they told us that they could only shape and polish our talent, not teach it to us; in fact, they simply disciplined us. At the Art Center, I saw many people arrive with many varied skills; the people who made it through the program and became successful had creativity coupled with discipline. The size of the success was proportional to the risk they took and the luck they found. I saw many with talent fall by the wayside because they could not harness, communicate, and market their talent. Very few became leaders. They lacked charisma. Is creativity important? Yes, it is important no matter what your discipline! Creativity is the seed of growth.