What Makes a Great Leader

Black Friday seems to get bigger and bigger every year, but I don’t notice who is open anymore, I pay attention to who isn’t. Closing doors on the day of Thanksgiving (as well as other holidays) in the face of crowds of dollar signs might not be the easiest thing to do, but it's the right thing to do. One of my favorite corporate wellness/leadership companies to follow is Costco, who refuse to even entertain the notion of opening their doors on Thanksgiving.

A spokesperson told the website Think Progress, “Our employees work especially hard during the holiday season and we simply believe that they deserve the opportunity to spend Thanksgiving with their families. Nothing more complicated than that."

That’s what I love to read about. Could Costco make buckets of money opening on Thanksgiving Day? Of course, but that’s not how you show employees you care about them. In an age of ‘say this, do the opposite’, how do companies like Costco, Zappos, or other companies break that mold?

Making a leader 

"No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself, or to get all the credit for doing it.” – Andrew Carnegie

I recently read a blog that talked about bold leadership. The author, Randy Conley, broke it down into four components:

Building trust – if employees don’t trust you, why would they follow you?
Others focused – leadership isn’t about a leader, it’s about empowering the people around you.
Leading with humility – it’s a common misconception that leaders are infallible but the most successful people in leadership positions show they’re human.
Daring to be vulnerable – authenticity brings people to you. No one wants to follow a robot, they want a real person who connects with them and understands what they’re doing/who they are.

I think this is an awesome acronym to live and lead by, it covers all of the main personalities all great leaders have in common.

Trickle-down leadonomics

All great companies invest in their best and most influential leaders – those who don’t follow the path laid for them but make their own way. If you’ve heard amazing customer service stories, you have probably heard of Zappos. They are one of the juggernauts when it comes to empowering employees and cultivating leadership.

Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, said, “Personally I cringe at the word 'leader.' It's more about getting people do what they're passionate about and putting them in the right context or setting. They're the ones doing the hard work.”

While I don't necessarily totally agree with 'leader' being cringeworthy, this is an awesome quote. From my point of view, what he describes is leadership. No one wants a central figure to come in and do everything for them so they can just follow blindly. They want someone that inspires them to be better, someone to follow until it's time to forge their own path.

Consumers respond to thoughtful and responsible ownership

I don’t know about you but I am more likely to have an ongoing consumer relationship with a company that I know puts its people first. I just have a feeling there is more emphasis on their product and if there is an issue, the customer service will more than make up for whatever is faulty.

And that’s what I think is so awesome about great company culture and leadership, sticking to your morals and hiring/inspiring the right people pays off (literally). Customers recognize that and will be more likely to support and expand your brand.