We need to talk about leadership (and the importance of a strong culture)

Simon Sinek, one of the main contemporary references when it comes to inspiration and leadership, stated:

“Wherever the leader goes, the company’s culture will also go.”

I believe that, more than ever, the pandemic has brought this premise closer to our reality, deconstructing much of what was known about office work and forcing companies to look deeper and rethink their processes – including remote work.

That’s how I faced one of the main challenges since I started in the People area at Juntos Somos Mais – or as we affectionately call it “People” around here.

How to drive processes, people, operations –  absolutely everything  – going forward?

The answer was in the leadership.

We have been in the home office since Monday, March 16th. There are almost 130 days with the entire team – without exception – acting from home. We’re not even two years old, we’ve doubled in size in six months. But I have to say:  we had a lot of gains .

Here at #Juntos, we have a value that is: “a strong, empathetic and fun team”. And this has never been so true! But to keep the team united and confident, leadership is our foundation.

The pandemic has made it clear that we need leaders more than ever. But I believe that being a leader is more than innovating, having good experiences and bringing results.

A leader must be constantly open to listening and learning with humility.

This was the favorable – and necessary – period for recycling concepts. Together with the leaders of our teams, we created the Leadership Experience, in partnership with Conquer, to help us on this journey.

Now, after completing the mission, I share with you  4 main lessons  that we learned from this experience. I hope they are as helpful to leaders as they were to us.

1. Before leading people, we need to lead ourselves

Do you know that maxim “know thyself”? That’s it. Investing (a lot!) in self-knowledge is one of the main levers of good leadership.

Technology can help in this process. There are now, in the literature, numerous tools that can help: DISC, Quantum… Here at #Together, we use the MBTI, a very interesting personality test.

MBTI helps you find personal characteristics and preferences, and understand how we perceive the world. Understanding your preferences, your team, and your peers can help you improve relationships, have more empathy, and, consequently, leverage results.

Communication is as important as self-knowledge. Being transparent and assertive helps us to avoid harmful conflicts. Also, as part of communication, you have to trust people: observing a fact is different from interpreting it. Avoid judgments and make your intentions clear.

For example, if someone on your team was late for the last meeting, understand what happened before saying “he’s ALWAYS late”. The way you communicate impacts the results and reflects – positively or negatively – on the atmosphere between your followers.

And prioritize! If everything is a priority, nothing is a priority. Know your team’s productive capacity and respect this limit. Are there bottlenecks? Always look for the root cause and resolve the issue at once, without #mimimi. You will see how everything will flow better.

The attitude you adopt as a leader is your responsibility; choose how you will lead as well.

2. Being a leader is a mindset, not a position

Therefore, being a leader represents more an attitude than the power that this word can bring. The team builds a company and this needs to be very clear for those who want to lead.

Always, always, always bet on people.

Understand that each person has a sparkle in their eyes and each one is motivated in their individuality. Let this diversity flourish.

Focus on building a circle of trust, on having teams that cooperate, that integrate. Invest in knowing who is around you, make dynamics, happy hours, virtual cafes. Set aside 15 minutes to discuss some content.

Abandon that old model of motivation based on rewards and punishments altogether – this hasn’t worked for a long time!

Engage people. Productivity, performance, results: this is all a consequence of the care you take with them.

Appreciate, recognize and give thanks. Teams that don’t celebrate can feel unmotivated and unproductive. So, celebrate each achievement.

Here at #Juntos, we send praise via Culture Rocks, send “virtual horns” on Slack, send gifts, organize events to integrate people, and look for ways to celebrate each victory! This helps us to see our achievements, those of others, and to work as a team.

Remember: small actions bring big changes.

Bonus reading tip: I highly recommend the book “Motivação 3.0”, by Daniel H.

3. Lean startup to support the leader as a maintainer of the culture

We live in the Information Age. At all times, we need to solve problems, learn quickly, and work in an environment of collaborative innovation. In this context, lean thinking encourages an interesting way of working which is:

“Fail early, fail cheap, and learn fast”

The idea behind this premise is that we can build hypotheses, measure how our clients will react, and learn quickly, by pivoting the model or persevering from experiments. Thus, the product/service evolves in a much more assertive way.

My reading tip here is the book “Lean Startup”, by Eric Ries, which explains exactly this process.

4. Be exponential

Here the idea is: think disruptively and look closely to the future. You need to innovate, of course, and technology is your ally. But never lose sight of the emotional connection to people.

Do you want to set ambitious goals? Go without fear! But maximize learning, empower people and increase your zone of influence.

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