Growth leaders are both tough and caring.
They are unyielding in their demand for results, and unwilling to let one person hold back the team. At the same time, they’re loyal to their people and work at being good listeners.
Rich Combs, executive chairman of Power Distribution Inc., a supplier of electrical switching equipment for data centers, says his experience working with Teamsters on a start-up at McDonnell Douglas taught him the value of tight interaction.
“If they had a problem, I listened to them,” he says. “If they broke my rules, they got slapped—figuratively, that is. I was very fair, never personal. ‘Here’s the job,’ I said. ‘You get your part done, and I’ll get my part done.’ It’s amazing how people responded to that.”
By being direct but also listening and making sure his workers had whatever tools they needed to do the job, Combs was able to triple production at a choke point.
“The less they’re worried about problems, the more they are focused on getting the job done,” he says.
— Adapted from The Catalyst: How You Can Become an Extraordinary Growth Leader, Jeanne Liedtka, Robert Rosen and Robert Wiltbank, Crown Business.