David Novak learned long ago that you can’t lead a great organization of any size without getting your people aligned, enthusiastic and focused relentlessly on the mission. But how do you do that? There are countless leadership books, but how many will actually help a Taco Bell shift manager, a Fortune 500 CEO, a new entrepreneur or anyone in between?
During his 15 years at Yum! Brands, Novak developed a trademarked program he calls Taking People with You. He spends several weeks each year personally teaching it to thousands of managers around the world. He convinces them that they’ll never make big things happen until they learn how to get people on their side. No skill in business is more important. And Yum!’s extraordinary success (at least 13 percent growth for each of the last nine years) proves his point.
Novak knows that managers don’t need leadership platitudes or business school theories. In Taking People with You, he cuts right to the chase with a step- by-step guide to setting big goals, getting people to work together, blowing past your targets and celebrating after you shock the skeptics. And then doing it again and again until consistent excellence becomes a core element of your culture.
In this book, Novak offers specific tools that will challenge you to reflect on how you’re really doing on key aspects of leadership.Get ready to change the way you think about leadership and, more important, the way you practice it every day. We all need people to help us along the way. You can go only so far by going it alone. If you want to start a business, if you want a big promotion, if you are developing or launching a new product, if you want your company to move in a new direction, if you want to expand your sales territory, if you want to raise money for a good cause, even if you become the coach of your child’s soccer team, which has lost every game so far, and you want to show those kids what it feels like to win, you’re going to need people to help you get there. You’ll never accomplish anything big if you try to do it alone.
You have to begin by asking yourself three big questions that will drive your approach to leadership and allow you to take people with you. They are:
- What’s the single biggest thing you can imagine that will grow your business or change your life?
- Who do you need to affect, influence or take with you to be successful?
- What perceptions, habits or beliefs of this target audience do you need to build, change or reinforce to reach your goal?
In marketing, if you can get inside the minds of your customers, you have the opportunity to solve their problems for them in a way that can improve your business. You need to have a good understanding of what they’re thinking and why they’re thinking that way. In order to get people to buy your product, for example, you have to start by gaining insight into what will convince them that they can’t or shouldn’t live without it. To be a successful leader, one who gets big things done, you need to have the same kind of insight into the minds of those you lead.
Establishing Trust with Your Team
If you can establish an environment where every single person feels that he or she is part of a team and has a chance to contribute, you’ve created a situation where people can do great things. To build an environment like this, you have to start with trust.Reaching out to people and building relationships based on trust might seem like a natural idea, but how do you do it? This is not the sort of thing they typically teach in business school. Below are things you can do to show people that you believe in them and that you care.
1. Know that people want to contribute: Start with the right attitude: Realize that 99.9 percent of people come to work every day wanting to do good and try hard. So you have to go to work every day thinking about your people that way and appreciating them for it, not looking to catch the 0.1 percent who want to mess things up or don’t act in good faith.
2. Demonstrate that everyone counts: It’s been shown that the most successful companies have a culture where every person feels valued. No matter what their position, they all know they have a chance to contribute and make a difference.
3. The more they know, the more they care:One way to show people you trust in their abilities and intentions is to share what you know.
4.Ask questions that promote insight: To find out more about who people are and what they think, one of my favorite questions to ask is, “What would you do if you had my job?”
5.Take Responsive Action: Once you’ve found out what people think, you’ve got to act on that and show that you’ve taken them into account.
When creating a vision, think about your target audience, the people you have to take with you. You have to create a vision that the people you lead can look at and say:
- I understand it.
- I know that my customers, or the people we need to win over, will like it.
- I can get excited about it.
- I can make it happen.
People will get on board with your goal when they understand it, they know what they’ll get out of it and when they know that you are as invested in it as they are. Only then will they truly feel accountable for doing their part to make it happen.
The final part of your plan is your culture. This is a critical ingredient that many leaders forget to consider. Or they just ignore it. But having the right culture, one that breeds positive energy and success, is crucial not just to the success of your current goal, but to anything you and your team want to accomplish going forward. A great culture is what will allow you to get those hard results and get them consistently.
What is culture? What I’m really talking about here is the work environment. As a leader, what sort of values are you projecting? What kind of atmosphere do you create for your team? Is it one in which people are excited to go to work every day, feel supported and appreciated and know they can grow? There is a big difference between people working toward a goal because they are getting paid to do it versus working together toward a goal because it is a rewarding experience. That difference shows up in the hard results that we all care about.
The thing you don’t want to do when someone expresses doubts is to plow ahead as if it never happened. But sometimes we do this without even realizing it because we’re so sure of ourselves, so sure that we have a good idea. The following is a checklist of what you should do to make sure you really are seeing all sides and considering all valid opinions and objections:
- Listen and understand why: Take each concern seriously and get to the bottom of it.
- Incorporate valid objections into your plans:If you decide that the objections have merit, then it’s time to adjust your plan. Doing this may take a bit more time and effort, but the result will be better for it.
- Listen, then lead: After you’ve heard and considered all the different viewpoints, you can’t get paralyzed with indecision. It’s up to you, as the leader, to make a decision about what to do next.
- Do the right thing and the right thing will happen: Follow your instincts. If you know you’ve done right by your team, listening to their concerns and doing your homework on your ini- tiative, then have confidence in your decision.