What’s the true secret to success? CEOs have to ask themselves this question all the time.
All leaders want to be successful, but not everyone knows how. I’ve talked a lot about various ways leaders can be more successful, from increasing employee engagement to leveraging neuroscience tools to improving innovative leadership. Sometimes, though, it’s best to learn right from the horse’s mouth. It’s one of the reasons I tracked down — and got a meeting with — Steve Jobs.
Even though the most successful leaders don’t all have the same leadership style, they all have wisdom to share about what makes their companies so successful.
Here are five people who absolutely embody innovative leadership, and the lessons you can learn from them.
1. Jeff Bezos
Amazon recently became the third most valuable company in the world, making Bezos the wealthiest man on the planet. So how did he do it?
Bezos is focused on the customer… in fact, at every meeting he leaves an empty seat at the conference table to represent them. He considers the customer to be the most important person in the room, even if they aren’t physically there.
Making the customer a key component in your business strategies (and meetings) will help you cultivate customer value more efficiently, and your company will be better off for it.
2. Pete Cashmore
Mashable is one of the most popular digital media websites. It boasts over 55 million pageviews per month… and it was started in 19-year-old Pete Cashmore’s bedroom.
Cashmore was able to build his successful company by recognizing the importance of execution when it comes to creativity… the follow-through is just as important as the innovative idea. He believes the most successful people are those who have an end-goal, and a plan to get there.
Having innovative ideas is great, but make sure your creative employees have the proper support to follow through.
3. Mark Zuckerberg
Mark Zuckerberg is one of the most successful leaders in the world… and he’s only in his 30s. One of his keys to success? Passion.
Zuckerberg believes in hiring for passion over skill (you can’t teach passion). One requirement Facebook has when hiring candidates is whether or not they fit within the company’s culture. Employees are also encouraged to work on ventures they’re passionate about before their assigned projects. This passion leaks into their motivation in other aspects of their work.
It makes sense that the most motivated and engaged employees are those who feel excited about their job. As I’ve discussed in a previous blog, employee motivation is crucial to company success.
Consider giving your employees projects they’re passionate about (even if it’s in addition to their current workload) and you’ll be rewarded with more employee motivation.
4. Reid Hoffman
Reid Hoffman was the cofounder of LinkedIn, the go-to site for networking and job hunting. However, it’s his role as author that landed him on this list.
In 2014, Hoffman co-authored a book called The Alliance, about rethinking the relationships between employers and employees. Hoffman wants managers to consider their employees allies, and describes the necessity of rebuilding trust between both parties.
One quick tip to build trust? Hoffman says to open up, and learn what your employees care about. Power dynamics can be intimidating, so make sure you open up first about your personal goals and aspirations.
5. Mary Barra
Mary Barra is the chairman and CEO of General Motors, and the first female CEO of a major automotive company.
Two weeks in, the company faced a scandal… a defective ignition switch that caused more than 100 deaths. Barra decided to hold the company responsible and lead an investigation that resulted in new policies. She also permanently transformed the company by implementing policies previous CEOs never would have considered.
Barra’s innovative leadership style is inclusive — she wants to create a team of the right people and make a plan together to tackle challenges head on. Her advice? Don’t ignore problems, or they’ll only get bigger.
Are there any problems within your company you might be ignoring? Try making a list of obstacles, then get your team together to work toward overcoming them.
Learning from top leaders can be incredibly helpful in crafting your own unique leadership style. Here are the main takeaways:
Which leaders do you resonate with the most? Is there a specific style you prefer? Let’s discuss!