In my late twenties, I was the Audit Director for a billion dollar company traveling the world and using the phrase “Tone at the Top” every chance that I could. I even trained my auditors that the organization, its culture and their potential audit findings would most likely be a result of how those at the top of the organization dealt with risk, process and communicating vision.
While this all still remains true, I’ve altered my thinking to also include every single person and touch-point throughout the organization. While vision, goal-setting and direction are key factors to success, I truly believe that each individual, and their authentic self, has a dramatic impact on the company they work for, the teams they work with and ultimately how their customers will perceive them in the marketplace.
If this is true, why don’t many leaders (regardless of position or title) focus on personal development? Here’s my two cents! Many leaders have blindspots and think they don’t need to improve. This is an extremely dangerous place for a leader and here is why! Any individual who is not progressing is regressing. Which by definition means that many of our teams are building silos, pointing blame for process failures and investing more in proving why a concept will not work versus pulling together to bring new things to life. Our companies are made up of these teams, which also by my definition means that a company who is not progressing is losing. Losing badly. Losing hundreds of customers each month without noticing! All because of the “I am”.
On the contrary, when I am investing in myself, I learn, I challenge, I apply and I get better. When I get better, my team gets better. Why? Because we learn, we challenge, we apply and we get better. When we get better, our customer’s experience with us gets better. When our customer’s experience gets better, we win!
Without a high-dollar, high-powered marketing campaign, customers recognize that there is something different about us. To me, this directly ties back to the investments we make in ourselves and our people. One could even argue that there is no better way to invest long term.
So the question of today is, what follows your “I am” and what are you doing about it on a daily basis as a result of this awareness? Are you trying to win in the marketplace without a key spoke in your wheel? Experience has taught me that the “Tone at the Top” is vital, but the “I am” permeating throughout your entire organization is the true game-changer. Check your personal and organizational blindspots! There is definitely intentional impact in your “I am”!
Kevin D. Jackson