In my first role in the corporate world, I worked for Magna International. I was in my very early 20’s at that time, and there was a senior manager that I grew to admire. Before I departed Magna and moved on in my career he sat down with me and gave me some advice about how to further my career. I still recall his words. He said “Shawn, as you progress in your career and become a leader, always consider your contribution to others. To be a great leader you must always consider the mark that you make on others.”
It’s been nearly 25 years since our talk, and I’ve managed all sorts of teams, unionized and otherwise, since this time. Today when I work with business leaders I always begin by asking them “Are you making your mark on others?”
In an earlier blog I discussed the attributes of an agile leader. In fact, you can find a process visual of this on my blog. In that profile I suggested that an agile leader is someone who is a strategic thinker, they encourage insights, they are flexible and adaptable and last but not least they are prone to take action.
In order to make our mark requires intense focus and effort not on ourselves, but on those around us. We must consider how we contribute to others in three distinct areas:
- Our customers
- Our employees
- Other business partners
With these areas in mind, making a mark requires that we consider what value each of these different parties require, and how we can make the most meaningful contribution and impact to provide that value.
Here is an example of some questions you can ask to understand the value required and how you can contribute:
1. Re: Customers. Do your customers value quality in your products or services? Are they focused on low cost solutions or responsiveness? Which of these criteria is most important?
2. Re: Employees. Are your employees desiring growth or possibly personal attention? Do they want to feel like more than just a number? What opportunities to grow might they feel are most valuable?
3. Re: Business Partners. Do your suppliers or contractors desire an opportunity to innovate and collaborate? Are they seeking to provide the lowest cost solution in return for a long-term business relationship?
So if you really want to make your mark as a leader, focus on your leadership community that is comprised of your customers, employees and business partners, and then consider what they value and how you can best provide that value.
If you do this consistently you will make a memorable mark that will serve to build a stronger community to support you in achieving your objectives.
© Shawn Casemore 2014. All rights reserved.