I wouldn’t talk about strategies, but rather about habits. As Zig Ziglar put it:
My experience with different cultures in different environments makes me fully agree with Ziglar. Motivation must be cultivated every day through our leadership habits, though you may need different intensities depending on the country and organization you are at. For this, I’ve found that the best performing leaders follow these 5 key habits to engage, energize and empower others:
- To explain “why?” – engaging people with a company purpose which is worth of a lifetime effort;
- To facilitate a clear path for each associate to contribute to the company’s purpose; creating a strong link between them and the ones that will be satisfied by their value-added work;
- To build a safe and nurturing working environment, characterized by trust, which enables every individual at every level to innovate in order to both improve business results and develop their full human potential;To give feedback: coaching employees in a direct, genuine and timely fashion, every day, and not waiting until the year-end performance or competence reviews.
- To walk the talk: associates don’t listen to leaders. They are too busy watching what they are doing after they’ve talked.
How should leaders and employees handle problems? Do problems restrain innovation?
Not at all. Hiding problems is what restrains innovation. Problems unleash the human creativity, and therefore the capability to innovate.
In order to handle problems you must build an innovation muscle. A muscle that naturally doesn’t exist. The innovation muscle is built through action: experimenting, testing, reflecting, learning and building the ability to always find a better way. Through this, employees must learn to collaborate, to coordinate teamwork, to prioritize on the workplace and to improve the value-creating workflow every day.
At the same time, leaders must grow, too, in their ability to train this innovation muscle. For this, commanding and controlling is no longer needed. They must evolve to be capable to develop skills, to communicate in an open way, to build mutual trust, to give frequent feedback, to share knowledge and to build the problem solving capabilities that distinguishes the creative organizations from the rest.
Lean and Toyota are closely connected; you can’t speak about lean without mentioning Toyota.
But let’s talk about other firms like P&G, their strategies and their success. Is lean responsible for their success? It definitely is. But as I said before, the responsible elements of lean inside these organizations are those that people can’t normally easily see from the outside. In this respect, the HPO Center has authoritatively defined, after more than a decade of research in more than 2500 different high performing Organizations around the world, what these common elements are:
High quality management:
decisive, action oriented, strong trust relationships, coaching, holding others responsible.
High quality employees:
recruiting those who want to assume responsibility and excel, from diverse backgrounds; employees that are complementary, flexible, and resilient.
continuity over short-term profit, collaboration with others, good long-term relationships with all stakeholders, focus on customers.
Continuous improvement and innovation:
a distinctive strategy; processes that are continuously improved, simplified, and coordinated; continuous improvement of core competencies and products; reporting important and correct information.
Open and action-oriented management:
communicating often with employees, openness to change; performance oriented.
I can determinately confirm, that all these are common and distinctive elements of Toyota and Procter & Gamble, as they are of other high performing companies like Google, Johnson & Johnson, Herman Miller, or Ritz Carlton.
To build consistently and organically these elements across the organization, in Toyota, you have the Toyota Institute which was established in 2002. It is an internal human development organization that aims to ensure that the pace of the human development across all the organization supports a sustainable growth of the company, according to the guiding principles of the Toyota Way 2001. Within The Toyota Institute, the Global Leadership and the Management Development Schools create the specific content of the training programs. The purpose is to enhance the understanding of the Toyota Way, enable best practice sharing and drafting of action plans, as well as to contribute to the creation of a global human network. The” Toyota Business Practice” and the “Toyota-Developing People” are also key standards that have been deployed globally to support this purpose.
In Procter & Gamble you have a High-Performance Organization. For P&G, this is a holistic framework that supports the company in all the areas of people, organization and business development. It connects the purpose, values and principles of the company with its organizational design and all its internal systems and processes: from early talent development to succession planning,
including all the businesses processes in between: mentorship, performance management, career development, decision making process, project management, organizational assessment and design, leadership development, strategy deployment, high-performing teams development, reward & recognition, integration system in M&A, communication system, etc.
And the key is, that all these elements and processes are not disconnected practices inside the organization, but rather elements that function in alignment with each other as a part of a holistic framework continuously improved over the years. As a consequence, both P&G and Toyota are, each in their own way, perfectly designed and equipped to be creative, resilient and responsive organizations. They achieve this by continuously developing the capabilities of fully engaged associates to create ever-better products and services that win the hearts of a growing number of customers.