Every Senior Leader should be aiming to replicate themselves by developing future leaders from within their organizations. It’s a proven way to increase team ownership, improve existing teams and structures, and to build a stronger organization over the long haul. One of the primary ways this kind of leadership development happens is through living out the organization's values consistently. You can engrave a set of company values on the wall, but it’s quite another thing to live them out consistently. In a family-owned business, the impact of that kind of consistency is multiplied.
Jim Hartlieb is a seasoned leader whose name has come up again and again when the subject of company culture and values comes up. He is part of the leadership team that has developed a values-based culture at First Business Bank of Madison, Wisconsin. First Business Bank’s clientele is primarily made up of family-owned businesses that have passed down through the generations. Join us for this lively conversation about leadership, the development of organizational values and their consistent implementation, and how to use those values to provide a mutually meaningful work engagement for everyone.Leading by example is crucial when developing future leaders
A clear set of organizational values can be empowering and clarifying, but only if those in leadership make it their business to embody the values consistently and with integrity. Leaders can’t expect those they are leading to embrace and uphold the company's values if the leader’s own behavior demonstrates that the values are, in fact, not so important.
“In our culture, we believe that leading by example and making sure your actions match your words, are a big deal.” That’s how Jim describes the attitude at First Business Bank. “That really starts at the top with our CEO, Corey Chambas, and really all through the organization. You can see it walking around every day at work in the meetings that we have as a team and then how we interact with clients.”
Developing leaders in any organization will inevitably take on the same attitude as those who nurture and develop them as future leaders. That’s why leading by example is so critical. A helpful question to ask yourself as you develop future leaders is, “Am I the kind of leader my organization needs five or ten more of?”The Golden Rule of leadership development
Most of us have heard of the Golden Rule: “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” It’s a great principle for life that translates into leadership perfectly. As you work with developing leaders, consider this principle as you provide feedback, encouragement, correction, and direction. How would YOU want to be treated in each of those contexts? Your answer to the question will prove extremely helpful.
Jim says, “It goes back to one of the golden rules: treat people the way you want to be treated. The way I like to get feedback is to just tell me and have it be actionable feedback that I can learn from and improve on in the future. So, if that’s how I want to be treated then that’s how I should interact with the people that I manage on a day to day basis. To me, it’s just common sense that if you expect someone to do the right thing, not only do they need to understand it but when you see them veering off the path, you need to be able to give them that feedback in a way that they can correct their behavior in the future. It seems pretty basic but you don’t always see it played out that way.”Helping future leaders prepare for inevitable leadership challenges
One of the most challenging leadership situations is when an upcoming leader steps into a position where they will be expected to lead people who have years of experience in the industry and perhaps are much older. Are you doing everything you can to help your future leaders prepare for those situations so they can respond with the savvy and wisdom it takes to fully enlist those people on their teams?
Jim Hartlieb of First Business Bank tells the story of his first leadership position. He’d moved from Chicago to Madison, Wisconsin, and took over a leadership role where long-time employees, many of them significantly older than him, were on his team. He was literally the “young whippersnapper from Chicago,” and was tasked with leading these precious people who had been in banking longer than he’d been alive. Jim recognized the challenge before him and had the wisdom to ask his wife’s Uncle, a successful businessman near the age of his new team members for his advice.
The advice he received was golden. “Don’t make that be a factor. Focus on the issues at hand, be prepared. Use common sense, use empathy and everything kind of works out for itself.” He says that advice not only served him during that time of transition but has also served as a wonderful guide throughout his career.Advice for future leaders of family-owned companies
Family-owned businesses are unique in that the mantle of leadership is most often passed down from one generation to the next rather than passed along to an executive who has come in from outside the company. In a scenario of this type, it is even more important that the development of upcoming leaders happens effectively. Having the same last name as the company’s founder or current leader is clearly not an adequate qualification for leadership.
I asked Jim what advice he would give to those who are overseeing the development of upcoming leaders in family businesses. What he shared was both a common-sense approach and a perspective that lends valuable insight, since many of the customers of the bank where Jim serves as President are family-owned businesses.
1 - Upcoming leaders who are destined to take on the leadership of their family’s business should work in another business first. Whether this is right out of college or in some volunteer capacity, the experience gained through working in a different organization, under different leaders provides much-needed perspective and experience.
2 - Current leaders in a family-owned business need to allow upcoming leaders to fail. Protecting future leaders from the harsh but needful reality of failure is unwise. They not only need to learn how to handle failure personally but also how to lead others from failure to success.
3 - Ensure that upcoming leaders understand what change management is all about. It doesn’t matter what industry the family-owned business is in, the business itself and the way business is done today is different than it was even five to ten years ago. That will continue to be the case moving forward, so the next generation has to be able to embrace change and to surround themselves with people who can help them handle the change that will inevitably come.
As you work toward the eventual appointment of future leaders in your organization, you’ll be well-served by pondering and applying the advice shared here. The best leadership transitions happen successfully because thoughtful attention has been given to them.Outline of This Episode
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