June 24, 2014 – Trust your employees and celebrate their achievements, a winning formula for running a successful business, according to David Novak, chairman and CEO of Yum! Brands, which includes KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell.
In the recent edition of HR Magazine, Novak provides insight on how to unleash the power of your employees and effectively manage them while building a work environment that allows them to thrive and grow into leaders. His thoughts struck a chord at Signature Source, since we understand that for a company to recruit top talent they must create a work environment that allows employees to flourish.
Novak’s key thoughts on leadership building:
- To engage employees, it’s important to explain the “why” behind an idea. Then ask for employee input and involvement, which translates into a commitment for all involved, working toward a common goal.
- Remember that employees do not function at their best and most creative when working in a vacuum with no feedback. Effective leaders are sincerely interested in their employees and able to provide direct feedback on projects they are working on. Even criticism, if done in a constructive manner that will improve the outcome, is usually welcome.
- Creating a trusting environment in which every employee has a chance to contribute fosters strong leaders and helps people become better coaches.
- Hire employees that are “whole-brained” – analytical and creative – with ambition, passion and the ability to inspire.
- Celebrate achievements. “When you recognize people, it says that you’re watching them, that what they do matters,” he told HR Magazine. “It keeps employees motivated and excited to come to work every day.” But instead of a gold watch, Novak likes to have some fun with awards. His individual recognition award is an over-sized pair of walking teeth for people who “walk the talk” of leadership. When he was president of KFC he gave away floppy rubber chickens and $100. “People would sometimes cry when I gave them their chickens,” he said.
Developing leadership skills
At Signature Source, we are often asked if leaders are born or made. Our answer: Both! Some people are born leaders, possessing leadership skills that can be identified in nursery school. Some people, no matter how hard they try, will never be good leaders. Then there is the middle group from which the made leaders emerge.
Novak says that to be a good leader, the person must be self-aware, to know who they are and where they have been. But key to the self-awareness is not being self-involved, which prohibits people from leading and getting to know their employees.
He says the best leaders possess an understanding that they are unique, different from everyone else, and that their strengths, weaknesses, interests and knowledge are distinctive. In addition, leaders know:
- • They will always be a work in progress.
- • They have to soak up everything they can, to make them better leaders.
- • They have to remain avid learners.
If you want to develop leadership skills, Novak’s advice is to follow these steps. It was the way he reached the top of his profession. For example, when he wanted to learn how to navigate Wall Street, he took Warren Buffett to lunch at KFC. To learn leadership skills, he shadowed UCLA’s basketball coach John Wooden. He soon learned that he could compete in business minus an MBA.
“Never lose the desire to learn,” he told the magazine. “The minute you stop learning, you start dying. That’s true in business, and it’s true in life.”
Thoughts to live by!