One of the real business success stories in the San Francisco Bay Area (outside of the technology arena) was a little company that went big – Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream. Acquired from the son of its founder in 1977 for just over $1 million, Dreyer’s grew within 20 years to become the leading packaged ice cream brand in the U.S.
How’d They do It?
It happened primarily through the development of a culture of success – and getting in the “groove.”
I had a chance to sit down and discuss this with one of their former senior executives. I wanted to know what characteristics were embodied in their best employees?
He told me the company emphasized “hiring smart”: selecting from large pools of applicants, employing the top “20-percenters,” and holding them accountable to stay that way. No surprises there. But he said something else that really hit me, “Jerry, all of our employees had the technical skills needed for their jobs, but the ones who really made a difference were those who believed in what we were doing, and how we were doing it.”
“They were believers.”
The Focal Points Research Study
Last month I introduced you to the idea that the most important thing a leader should know is his/her people. The research shows that an awareness of people is a huge factor in successful leadership.
Talents – Strengths and Weaknesses
Yes, you need to be able to accurately evaluate your people’s job skills – what they know and what they can do – so you can provide the proper nutrients to their advancement: training, information, opportunity, mentoring, work experiences, etc.
But, it’s surprising to me the number of stories I hear indicating that managers/leaders are relatively clueless about their people’s true capacities. Understanding work skills, strengths, weaknesses, is the bare minimum. This should be a given – because when
you know your people, I mean really know your people, you can make an accurate application of their talents – harnessing their energy and strengths to achieve the organization intent.
But What about Belief?
As shown by the success of Dreyer’s – people who believe in the “cause” make bigger things happen. So we need to move beyond an analysis of technical abilities alone.
Belief needs to be a factor, and if it’s not there, we need to bring it.
Belief begins with you – and to the extent in which you believe in what your organization does, and how it goes about its work. Once you’ve come to grips with your own beliefs, you can begin to see how your perspective influences the people around you. If you can’t find belief, how can you expect anyone else to find it? Make the changes you need to get yourself onboard first!
You also need to believe in your people (they know how you feel) – so work at feeling great about the possibilities that lie ahead. When you get right on this one, you can build the culture of your team in the direction of high performance and success.
– Jerry Strom
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This article is based on the *’Focal Points Study: The Most Important Things a Leader Should Know,’ copyright 2014, by Jerry Strom & Company, Inc. Find the Research Abstract, along with descriptions of many of our other research projects at http://www.jerrystrom.com/js_research.html .