Cultural behaviors create the essence of an organization. At most companies, policies and processes are put in place to deal with employees who exhibit sloppy, unprofessional, or irresponsible behavior. But if you avoid or move these people out, you don’t need so many rules. Leadership development skills training often includes creating, following and holding others accountable to policies. If you build an organization made up of high performers, you can eliminate most controls. The denser the talent, the greater the freedom you can offer. Do you want your leaders to be more successful? Encourage them to fail more.
In his book, No Rules Rules, co-founder of Netflix Reed Hastings shares how in his first business, Pure Software, he found out the hard way about having too much structure and too many policies. “Policies and control processes became so foundational to our work that those who were great at coloring within the lines were promoted, while many creative mavericks felt stifled and went to work elsewhere.” This was followed by a slowing of innovation over a period of time; though efficiency had increased, creativity had dropped. Hastings points out that as industries shift, most firms fail to adapt. He further reflects on the tendencies of those in leadership positions: “To survive, we needed to change. But we had selected and conditioned our employees to follow a process, not to think freshly or shift fast.” What they needed were less transactional leadership and more transformational leadership behavior.
*Related – Fail Fast, Fail Often
Behind Every Successful Person is a Long List of Failures
“With my next company, Netflix, I hoped to promote flexibility, employee freedom, and innovation, instead of error prevention and rule adherence. At the same time, I understood that as a company grows, if you don’t manage it with policies or control processes, the organization is likely to descend into chaos,” explains Hastings. “If you give employees more freedom instead of developing processes to prevent them from exercising their own judgment, they will make better decisions and it’s easier to hold them accountable.” Successful leaders know the most successful teams evolve when employees are encouraged to have a strong sense of ownership for their roles. That ownership runs parallel with a sense of commitment to the entire organization.
Businesses need to stop treating their employees like children. Effective leadership needs to be about helping people reach their potential in performance, not managing them away from breaking policy or screwing up. Superior employee experience is a critical factor for current employees and job seekers alike, and when leaders get it right it forms the bedrock for best-in-class customer experience. High performers need innovation; innovators need autonomy; and everyone needs intellectual stimulation. Don’t let one poor employee ruin your organization’s freedom and flexibility. Process kills organizational flexibility. Fear kills creativity and innovation. Employee freedom means they can take a lot of risks and sometimes fail. Risk-taking breeds innovation. Take a good look at your current leadership style and consider adopting the mindset of failure-tolerant leaders.
“Don’t punish 98% of your team members because you are afraid of what 2% will do.”
*Related – Attract and Keep Top Talent
Model Jeff Bezos, Who Encourages His Leaders to Fail…Often
“One of my jobs as the leader of Amazon is to encourage people to be bold. And people love to focus on things that aren’t yet working and that’s good. It’s human nature, that kind of divine discontent can be very helpful,” Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder and role model to many effective leaders, shared in an interview with Business Insider. “But it’s incredibly hard to get people to take bold bets. And you need to encourage that.” He acknowledged that these bold bets will be experiments with potential for big success or epic failure, and more likely the latter. Still, he knows that several big successes make up for a broad range of ideas that ultimately go nowhere. “So bold bets: AWS, Kindle, Amazon Prime, our third-party seller business, all of those things are examples of bold bets that did work, and they paid for a lot of experiments.”
Bezos’ openness about his own leadership role made a huge impression on modern leaders when he shared that his failures at Amazon.com added up to literal billions. “And you know, you might remember Pets.com or Cosmo or you know, give me a root canal with no anesthesia very easily, none of those things are fun,” Bezos confessed. But he stressed that what really matters are the consequences of companies being too afraid to experiment, even if it means they sometimes fail. “…they eventually get in a desperate position where the only thing they can do is kind of Hail Mary bet at the very end of their corporate existence.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I9CKa90Leh0
Effective change leaders factor in some failures on the road to their strategic goals. Be the type of leader who says:
I would rather reward spectacular failures than mediocre accomplishments.
Leadership Games: Guess Who?
Let’s play some “guess who?” trivia. The answers are below. See how you do. Guess who:
1. Got fired from his first job by his newspaper editor for lack of ideas, then proceeded to go bankrupt several times
2. Got cut from his high school basketball team
3. Grew up in a dysfunctional, poverty-stricken home and was physically abused, yet has become one of the wealthiest and most influential women in the world
4. Guess who:
- Grew up in the projects of Brooklyn, New York
- Quit his job over a conflict of vision with the owners
- Eventually purchased that same company
- Today that company is one of the most recognizable brands in the world
5. Guess who:
- Was adopted at birth
- Dropped out of college after six months
- Started a company in his garage that eventually became a billion-dollar organization
- Got fired from the company he started
- Created Pixar Animation Studios
- Eventually returned to run the company he started
- Built one of the most valuable brands in the world
6. Guess who:
- At age 6, watched his father leave his mother and his five siblings
- Went from upper middle class to welfare overnight
- Was labeled ADD and LD in school
- Was requested to repeat many grades in elementary school
- Was suspended a few times
- Was not accepted into the high school that his older brothers attended
- Graduated at the bottom of his graduating class
- Flunked out of college after a year and a half
- Walt Disney
- Michael Jordan
- Oprah Winfrey
- Howard Schultz
- Steve Jobs
- John DiJulius
The following is a copy of my grade school transcripts. As you can see my average grade in first and second grades is an F, and I peaked in fourth and fifth grade with a D+ average.
Episode 112 of the CSRev Podcast
Chief Revolution Officer John DiJulius of the DiJulius Group talks with Matthew Stewart, serial entrepreneur, about how he has built numerous successful brands from the ground up, around his unique leadership philosophies. More importantly, all his businesses are dependent on millennials and generation Z, and how Matthew has helped keep them inspired and motivated.
You will learn:
- What Human Service means to Matthew
- The Five Factors of Success for College Students
- How do you balance professional and personal life?
- What is the hardest thing about being an entrepreneur, leader, father, & husband?
- How Matthew feels millennials and gen zs are the best generations to hire.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“Never forget, URX—You aRe the eXperience.”
CX VIDEO CLIP OF THE WEEK
The 2023 Class of our Customer Experience Executive Academy (CXEA) that started in January sold out. So instead of waiting till 2024, we are starting a new class in September ’23. We expect this class to also sell out. Don’t delay, register now!
Are you in charge of your brand’s customer experience? Are you currently, or on track to be your company’s Chief Experience Officer (CXO)? It’s time to start learning the methodology applied by world-class companies to create consistently memorable moments that lead to happy customers and happy employees. The Customer Experience Executive Academy (CXEA) is the Harvard of Customer Experience.