In the journey of growing your company, there's a fundamental truth that many business leaders overlook: it's not just about the grand vision or lofty goals, but rather about the people who will embark on that journey with you. No matter how skilled you are, you need to know how to hire, retain, and lead the right people who will help you reach your destination.
Why is this so crucial? We have never seen a company grow, stay strong, and remain profitable without the right people onboard. Many managers and owners burn themselves out because they skip this essential step.
As highlighted in Jim Collins' renowned book "Good to Great," assembling the right team before defining the company's destination plays a critical role. Collins aptly puts it, "You are a bus driver. The bus, your company, is at a standstill, and it's your job to get it going."
To ignite your company's transformation, you must begin with the people. Having the right individuals on board is only half the battle; oftentimes, we must summon the courage to remove those who don't align with the company's values and goals. Consider the example of David Maxwell, who turned around Fannie Mae by prioritizing the right people over defining the company's direction. He understood that without the right team, any grand vision would be unattainable.
Maxwell's approach was bold and straightforward. He interviewed every member of the management team and set clear expectations. He communicated that only A-level individuals willing to put forth A-plus effort would be welcome on the bus. This commitment to excellence and accountability led to a significant transformation. Fourteen executives voluntarily stepped off the bus, making way for some of the brightest minds in finance.
Once the right people were in place, Maxwell and his team focused on the "what" question – the direction they would take Fannie Mae. With their unwavering commitment and expertise, they turned the company's fortunes around, going from losing $1 million per day to earning $4 million per day. This remarkable success continued even after Maxwell's departure, showcasing the enduring impact of building a great team.
Collins highlights three essential truths that good-to-great leaders understand:
The Power of "Who" Over "Where": Starting with the "who" enables greater adaptability in a rapidly changing world. When people join your company because of the talented individuals already on board, you create a dynamic environment that can respond quickly to new challenges and opportunities.
Motivation through Alignment: When you have the right people on your bus, motivation becomes a natural by-product. These individuals are self-motivated and driven to be part of a high-performing team that consistently delivers exceptional results.
The Impact of Wrong People: No matter how visionary your strategy or grand your aspirations, the presence of the wrong people can undermine everything. Mediocre individuals cannot deliver greatness, even with the best plans in place. It's crucial to address any misalignments promptly.
This goes much further than just having people who align with your goals or culture; it highlights the need to hire the right people and then let them guide the company’s strategy, vision, and growth.
So, take the courage to get the wrong people off the bus. Top performers want to work with other top performers. To retain and drive top performance in your organization, getting the wrong people off the bus is paramount for success.
If your employees see you settling for less, what do you think they will do?
It's easy to say but harder to accomplish. However, as we have said before, if it were easy, then everyone would be doing it! Take the path that may seem
harder at the beginning but ensures the future and ROI that you have worked so hard for.