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کتاب: از گریوی بپرس / فصل 16

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CHAPTER 14

LEADERSHIP

IN THIS CHAPTER I’LL TALK ABOUT THE BIGGEST LESSONS I’VE LEARNED, BUILDING CULTURE, AND WHY REPEATING YOUR MISTAKES IS SOMETIMES A GOOD THING.

I suspect the topic I will most want to talk about when I get to the end of my career will be leadership. It’s a skill that came naturally to me at a young age. Yet as proud as I am of my leadership skills and effectiveness, I still work on it every day, and it’s an aspect of myself where I feel I am continuously growing. This chapter allows me to thank my employees, whose smarts, talent, and hard work always push me to raise the bar and hone my abilities. They have afforded me the chance to take my leadership skills to a much higher level than I ever realized was possible.

My philosophy on leadership is very simple: Everything in business stems from the top, whether you’re the boss of two people in a three-person team or the head of a Fortune 500 company. And everything that happens in a company is 100 percent the CEO’s fault. After all, the CEO is the person who puts people into a position to make good or bad decisions. It’s no accident that when some companies change their CEO they go from winners to losers or vice versa. It may be the most important variable for success in running a business.

Being a leader today is a greater challenge than ever because of social media. It has completely changed the nature of the job. You used to be able to—no, leaders were expected to talk from the top of a mountain. You’d make your proclamation and not worry much about hearing anything back, certainly not in real time. But now that our communication channels have given everyone a voice, whatever you say from on high may invite a reaction. You might get it in-house, or you might get it from the masses. That’s proving to be a challenging adjustment for some leaders, especially those further along in their career.

The only effective way to truly lead is to practice and model the behavior you want to see in others. That’s why I once drove across state lines in a blizzard during the height of the Christmas rush to deliver a single case of white zinfandel to a customer whose order had been delayed. I know my team is watching me. I can’t tell them to go the extra mile if I’m not willing to do it myself. If the DNA of any business stems from the top, the top has to ensure that its values, beliefs, and attitudes trickle down to shape the culture and encourage a productive, innovative, creative, and even happy environment.

One hallmark of a good leader is to ask questions. It’s the best way to show your team you recognize they’re more than just cogs on a wheel. “Hey, how are things going?” “How’s the new baby?” “What are you excited about lately?” “Do you have any ideas you’d like to discuss?” It’s also the best way to solve problems. Don’t ever start offering solutions before asking tons of questions: “Why are we two weeks behind?” “What do you think is the issue?” “What do you need?” And then for God’s sake, listen. Be compassionate. Be fair. Hire people who embody those characteristics, too. Celebrate successes, and when you have to reprimand, hark back to all the times you screwed up and remember that those mistakes have everything to do with who you are today. Great leaders aren’t born; they’re made.

I think this chapter offers a lot of value. After reading it, look in the mirror and think about what you do well and how you could do even better. Leadership needs to be a big pillar in your development if you have ambitions of building a business. The answers you see here may be the secret sauce to any success I’ve enjoyed in my career.

What are the most important lessons your father taught you about building a business?

How do you change a firmly established culture into one that genuinely cares about the customer?

Who are your idols or the people who inspire you? Did you ever have a mentor?

As a business leader, what’s the one thing that keeps you up at night?

Do you ever complain?

In what situations are you most comfortable?

If you could teach everyone in the world one thing you’ve learned, what would it be?

How do you stay constantly motivated?

How do you keep others motivated?

What advice would you give someone transitioning to a leadership role?

How do you instill soul and swagger into a physical product you create?

Are there any common mistakes you repeat? Any tips on overcoming them?

Are you worried you might have created a Steve Jobs–esque “reality distortion field” around VaynerMedia?

Do you prefer to be around people who are the same or different than you?

If you were to tragically die today, how well would VaynerMedia do long term without its CEO? Have you been satisfied with Wine Library’s performance since leaving to focus on VM?

Would you be able to lead any type of company? Do you think leaders can switch industries easily?

Would you be willing to sacrifice your ethics for a business win?

I want to encourage people to do what I did and leave a very secure job to pursue their dream. But will my employee retention rate drop? Has yours dropped since you started building up your personal brand?

How important is failure?

How do you celebrate victories?

With such a busy schedule and so many obligations, how do you find the time to focus, be nice to people, and stay in the moment?

When it’s all said and done, how would you like to be remembered?

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