Alexis Davis Shares Leadership Strategies To Improve Your Company’s Culture
Getting the right people on board is the first step to creating a healthy work environment.
A tired leader will exhaust their team. An energized leader will inspire their team. We’ve already established that a company’s culture starts with the founders and executives. However, we also need to discuss what it means to be an effective and energized leader. To be an effective leader you have to practice self-care and consistently refill your metaphorical cup. Before you can give time and attention to your team, you need to make sure you have a habit of self-care that allows you to recharge and reflect. The core of leadership is emotional intelligence, and at the core of emotional intelligence is self awareness.
Recently I had the opportunity to interview Alexis Davis from H.K. Productions Inc, Hoo-Kong.com for the ongoing series: CEOs Share Leadership Strategies To Improve Your Company’s Culture.
Alexis Davis is the founder & CEO of the digital media platform H.K. Productions Inc, Hoo-Kong.com. She has her Masters in Organizational Leadership and was named to The Wall Street Journal’s Women of Note database as an innovative woman who shares her expertise and inspiration.
Krish Chopra: What are the 3 most important values that your company’s culture is based on?
Alexis Davis: Integrity, empathy, and a commitment to helping people, help themselves. At Hoo-Kong, our intentions are to have integrity in all that we do. We strive to simplify the complex and deliver thoughtfully filtered, value-based information from around the globe. Our goal is to continue to take on new challenges and pursue innovation as a company.
The key difference is managers focus on things while leaders focus on people.
Krish: Managing millennials can often be a polarizing topic. Can you elaborate on your advice for managing the “millennial mindset?”
Alexis: I am a millennial myself, so my advice would be to lead more than manage. The key difference is managers focus on things while leaders focus on people. I believe millennials in particular are looking for a culture of autonomy, empowerment, growth opportunities, and to do meaningful work with a company who’s values are aligned with their own. Lead by inspiring action and letting those who work for you know that their talents and work are valued.
Krish: Strong company culture is something that everyone likes to think they have but very few have it. Why do so many organizations struggle with creating strong, healthy work environments?
Alexis: There could be a few things such as more managing then leading, lack of autonomy, or most importantly not hiring the right people. I remember reading an article on the company Zappos ‘Pay to Quit’ method. After a rigorous paid training for their prospective new employees, the company states “If you quit today, we will pay you for the amount of time you’ve worked, plus we will offer you a $1,000 bonus.” Think about it, they’re so dedicated to maintaining a culture of like-minded people who are committed to exceptional customer service, that they will pay applicants who lack the company values not to be apart of the organization. Getting the right people on board is the first step to creating a healthy work environment.
Krish: What is one mistake you see young start-up founders make in their culture or leadership practices?
Alexis: What I will say to that is use your leadership to make an impact even if its in a small way. Leadership is a privilege don’t abuse it — Lead from a place of understanding. And, be willing to encourage, inspire, and hopefully make a change.
Krish: To add to the previous question, young CEOs often have a lot of pressure to perform and often wear many hats. What’s a simple time efficient strategy they can start doing today to improve their company’s culture?
Alexis: My suggestions are the following:
#1: Do what you can and delegate the rest.
#2: Eliminate as many distractions as possible and engage in deep work often. This may mean turning off your phone for a designated amount of time, putting your inbox on silent, or working somewhere that fuels your drive to get work done such as an office, coffee shop, bed, etc.
#3: Put your tasks on paper. There are psychological benefits of taking your to-do list from your head and putting it on paper. Write out what needs to be done every week by creating a checklist and mark off each task once completed.
Krish: Success leaves clues. What has been your biggest influence in your leadership strategy and company culture?
Alexis: So I have a lot!
One of my favorite quotes comes from a Japanese company named Itochu. Their corporate message resonated deeply with me. I came across the corporate message when I purchased a Forbes Magazine at the airport prior to boarding a flight. It read “I am one with infinite missions. My workplace is the entire world.” This is what leadership is about, making an impact wherever you go.
For a book, it’s Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t by Jim Collins. My biggest takeaway from the book was that the author wanted to express to readers that it’s not an overnight job to take your business from good to great. Rather, to succeed, it takes several consistent small steps that get you to your business goal, not just one thing that gives you a big break.
As for a person, it’s Beyonce, Jack Ma, Oprah. Beyonce for her work ethic and dedication to giving people her all in every single performance is inspirational. Jack Ma, Founder & Executive Chairman of Alibaba, for his thinking, perseverance, and his vision to create more opportunities for small business owners. And, Oprah for making all of her decisions from her emotional GPS system as she calls it and her intentions to use her platform to enrich people's lives. That’s what Hoo-Kong is all about.
You can’t give what you don’t have and you can’t pour from an empty cup. Take time to fill your cup.
Krish: What advice do you have for employees that have bad bosses? How can they take control and improve a bad situation?
Alexis: This is a tough one that I can definitely relate to. I remember at 17 years old, I was a part-time assistant for an attorney who specialized in criminal law. Although I learned a great deal, it was however one of the worst experiences I ever had. Working with an employer who experienced multiple episodes of emotional peaks and troughs was really challenging. I left and pursued my real estate license. So my advice for employees with bad bosses is to plan your exit strategy. Be respectful, continue to do your job, but don’t ever feel like you are stuck. Make your move.
Krish: Okay, we made it! Last question — what’s one unique thing (hack) you or your company does that has enhanced your work culture?
Alexis: Life-hack | Practice Selfcare. Take time to nourish yourself physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. And encourage your employees to do the same. I remember Dave Lindsey Chairman and Founder of Defenders a home security company; once saying “Businesses don’t grow, people do”. As the saying goes, you can’t give what you don’t have and you can’t pour from an empty cup. Take time to fill your cup.
A note to the readers: Improving company culture happens at any level in an organization. If you learned one thing in this interview, please share this with someone close to you.
A special thanks to Alexis again!
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