By: Darnell Ross, President/Chief Operating Officer
Too often, the importance of leadership is underestimated, misinterpreted and misunderstood. Many view leadership as individual success or the accolades bestowed on an individual based on performance. In fact, the opposite of this might be a more accurate way of viewing leadership’s role. True leadership is motivation and empowerment of those around you to be the best self that they can be.
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I read a quote recently that stated, “Leadership is all about people. It is not about organizations. It’s not about plans. It’s not about strategies. It’s about people – motivating people to get the job done. You have to be people-centered.” I could not agree more. At Leahy, we believe in and focus on our people. We invest in every team member to inspire, motivate and provide him or her with the necessary tools to succeed. This is the Leahy Culture – from the Board of Directors through all levels of the organization.
“Leadership is all about people. It is not about organizations. It’s not about plans. It’s not about strategies. It’s about people – motivating people to get the job done. You have to be people-centered.”
Leadership is humble. It listens before it professes. It looks to empower and support versus focusing on control and blame. But we are all human, and it is very easy to take things for granted, especially when things are going well. That’s why I want to thank the collective Leahy team and every individual that composes our awesome organization. COVID-19 has truly made me appreciate the exceptional team that I have the pleasure to work with. The team that I have the pleasure to serve every day. The team that is responsible for creating a culture of growth and empowerment within the Leahy organization.
Seeing the results of leadership throughout all levels of the organization fascinates me. I am not speaking of specific leadership from myself or the Leahy management team, but leadership from everyone in the organization.
“Great leaders believe they work for their team. Average leaders believe their team works for them.”
Leahy’s commitment to culture and personal development has led to a shift in the organization that has become infectious. Our team has become more empowered! There is a commitment to their peers to carry out agreed upon objectives. Team members own their space. I can truly see a unique flow within the company. Most importantly, it is continuing to spread. The infectious behavior throughout the organization is a direct reflection of the company’s adoption and understanding of the belief that leadership is not wielding authority – it is empowering and motivating people.
Organizations can and always do experience obstacles or bumps in the road that can derail current strategies or focus. Resiliency and determination are key drivers to navigate the challenges you face. The Food Service industry was hit very hard by COVID-19. With much uncertainty throughout the industry, there were many companies that needed to pivot and change strategies to mitigate significant impacts to their organization.
This is where I saw the foundational components that drive the Leahy culture spring into action. The organization, like many others, was required to work in a very different environment. The opportunity to engage with one another in person daily was replaced with Zoom and Skype Meetings. Nonetheless, the true colors of the Leahy culture shined through. Leadership’s role was to continue to allow the team to remain focused, make sound decisions and encourage one another to get the job done. We found creative ways to increase the personal connection of the team and to ensure there were no team members that felt they were on an island without support.
I am so proud and humbled to be a part of a culture that promotes leadership at all levels. A building can only stand tall with a strong foundation — and the foundational components within the Leahy organization begin with Leadership! Again, when I speak of leadership, I’m not referring to the CEO or the President or the Board of Directors. The Leadership that we have adopted and champion is from all levels of the company. We all need inspiration, and mine comes from the success of others around me. Witnessing team members be the best versions of themselves is the most rewarding and gratifying feeling for me both professionally and personally.
It may sound too easy and straightforward to some, but adopting simple practices to promote leadership and empowerment within your organization does drive real change. One of the keys is consistently committing to the empowerment of every person — when things are good and when they are not so good; this is crucial. “When people make mistakes, the last thing they need is discipline. It’s time for encouragement and confidence building. The job at this point is to restore self-confidence. I think ‘piling on’ when someone is down is one of the worst things any of us can do.”
Remember the importance of Leadership and the value it can bring to your culture. Be mindful of the foundational components needed to promote true leadership at all levels. Most importantly, be mindful of your impact on others as they grow and become the best versions of themselves — that is leadership’s true reward.