Gary Vaynerchuk is a well known name. When I first thought about starting a business, my fellow entrepreneurial-minded friends recommended that I follow him on social media. He was omnipresent! I should add, he still is omnipresent. This man knows how to hustle and how to get results.
Three years ago, I read and reviewed his book #AskGaryVee. I re-read his book recently and that inspired me to also re-read my article. Yes, I frequently re-read books and my articles. You'd be surprised at what new pearls you glean when you review a book. Time and experience have a way of painting new meanings to familiar passages.
Here are a few thoughts stuck out for me this time around.
Good Leaders Care About Their Employees
Gary has a more comprehensive definition for "care" than most managers/bosses would. As he was building his company, he took the time to get to know his employees. He had one-on-one meetings with them. He asked them to share their goals, and then sought ways to help them achieve their goals within the company. This wasn't a one-time thing. He would touch base with them regularly and see if their goals were still the same. He encouraged his team to be proactive in letting him know if their goals had changed.
In some cases, some of his employees changed their career path within the company. He helped them create a long-term plan to prepare for that move while ensuring company goals were being met. Others decided that they wanted to open their own business ventures. He helped them move towards that goal while still contributing to his company and training their successor. He empowered them to pursue their dreams. When they were ready to leave, he had a successor ready to take their place. Gary knew that a dissatisfied employee was a lose-lose situation for both the employee and the employer. He wanted to keep his workforce passionate about their jobs so that they would bring their full creativity and energy to work.
What about employees who are lagging in performance, you might ask? Gary had a caring way to address them. If someone is not working out, instead of firing them, he recommends helping them find an external job for which they are better qualified for. This way, when they leave, they are moving to a different opportunity and there is goodwill between that person and the company. Plus, Gary is a big proponent of being a decent person.
Good Leaders Are Fiercely Loyal to Their Employees
What would you think if your consultant told you that they put their employees first, your customers second, and you third? That is what Gary told his clients. He was fiercely loyal to his employees. He wanted to his employees to know that he had their back. This cultivated a culture of high performance and high accountability among his employees.
His employees felt a greater sense of loyalty to him and to each other, so they pushed themselves further. Gary comments that the best results come with employees feel a responsibility to their fellow employees. He noticed that this holds them self-accountable more so than feeling a responsibility to their boss or even to their own pride.
Your Employees Are Always Watching
Gary is a firm believer that the leader sets the tone for EVERYTHING. Leadership is responsible for the employees. Leadership is responsible for the culture. Leadership is responsible for adapting. Your employees are always watching you. They take their cues from you. If they notice that your actions don't match your words, they will perform according to the message you broadcast through your actions.
They notice your work ethic. If you do the bare minimum, they will follow suit. Gary shared how he once delivered a case of wine in a blizzard. He knew his employees were watching. They saw the level of customer service that he demonstrated. That one act was more powerful than 100 policies.
Good Leaders Want To See Their Employees Succeed
Many times, leaders are threatened by the success of their direct reports. They are afraid that their employee might outshine them, so they start to sabotage their employee. Some "leaders" intentionally build a moat between themselves and their employees, to ensure no one else can come into the leadership castle. Gary addresses this hypocrisy.
"You cannot claim you want to help someone succeed and then suppress them when they actually do. You can't be afraid that someone else will trump you." - Gary V.
Good leaders have an abundance mindset. They believe that there is enough room for all to succeed. They know that their employees' successes are also a testament to their ability to nurture and support those leaders. They actively seek to find ways to make their employees more successful. And, yes, this sometimes means their employees will leave the company. You never know what opportunities might come out of that move, though, so don't cut ties too quickly.
Good Leaders Seek Out Self-Awareness
I sometimes liken leadership to a table. The four legs represent self-leadership. They are the 4 foundations of how you show up as a leader. Those 4 foundations are self-awareness, self-direction, self-motivation, and self-care. The table top is how your leadership affects others. If your legs/foundation are sturdy, you have a better probability of being a good leader of others. Gary highly advises that leaders embrace self-awareness. Get to know your strengths and weaknesses. Know your communication and thinking preferences. Being aware of this will improve your decision making, communication, interaction with others, and even help you hire a better team (you will know what strengths you need to hire).
The process of self-awareness requires courage and a lot of humility. It is hard to be brutally honest with yourself. It is hard to request and receive sometimes critical feedback. If you want to be a great leader, it is necessary.
That is why I include self-awareness as the first step in any of my leadership programs. Speaking of which, I am about to launch my Be A Self Leader program. If you would like to be the first to know when it is available, sign up here to be notified.