Successful leaders practice what they preach
Throughout my career, I’ve realized there are many keys to successful leadership: being willing to take a risk, being solution-oriented, being able to delegate and more. However, one of the most important parts of leadership is having a vision and then showing your team how to make that vision a reality by being a role model to them. Many companies have written out their vision and values statements, but beyond posting these on the company website or on a poster, how many actually ensure those values are lived up to day in and day out? This was an exercise we recently went through. Our leadership team worked hard on the company vision — to democratize consumer insights across the enterprise — and came up with some values. But upon reflection, I concluded that the values were not accomplishing the goal: to challenge us not on what we do, but on how we do it. So, several months later, we scrapped them and started afresh with the following:
1. Be professional. This value informs how employees should interact with each other and our customers in order to support our company’s growth and success. I encourage people to think of it this way: your reputation is more important than your resume. How will people describe you to others?
2. Be humble. This value guides us in many ways, but especially in our hiring process. We are looking for learning people — people who will not let their egos get in the way of learning. It prevents getting into an entrenched position and allows for people at all levels in all situations to ask questions. No one has to pretend to be an expert on everything.
3. Be human. This value reminds us about the importance of relationships, both in work and outside of it. It guides how we behave with each other and with customers — with respect for people’s experiences and their lives beyond the workplace.
To be a successful leader and establish a positive company culture, you have to practice what you preach and exemplify the values you want to instill in your company and employees. As CEO, I realize I am a role model for my employees, and they take cues from me on how to behave. I hold myself accountable to these same values, and I use them to guide our hiring and staffing practices — even if someone is great at their job, if their behaviors don’t align with these values, they won’t work out and will either need to leave or adapt their ways.
A key principle for me is teamwork. And by this I mean doing the hard work that is required to create high-performance teams. High-performance teams put in all the training required to get the job done. I had a field hockey coach once whose mantra was, “winning teams are happy teams.” We had to do a lot of hard work to ensure we came out on top, but we had a lot of fun in the process. My goal for Crimson is that every single person will have the experience of being on a high-performance team.
Leading a winning team requires some superpowers, and one of those is embedded in our values: you have to push people forward, get them to take some risks, and allow them to fail. They can pick themselves up and go back out into the fray if they know their leader is behind them, supporting them to regain the confidence to get back out and take some risks again. This practice encourages more learning and humility, but also confidence when people realize their abilities. That is one of the most rewarding parts of being a leader: when you see those you once led become successful leaders themselves.
Stephanie Newby (formerly Hanbury-Brown) is Crimson Hexagon’s CEO and previously founded investment firm Golden Seeds. Her prior experience was in financial services, the majority of which was with J.P. Morgan, where she headed several global businesses and was head of e-commerce. Stephanie has extensive board experience with private and public companies, and currently retains a board position with Amec Foster Wheeler plc. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Sydney.