If you want to be a good leader, you’ve got to actually interact with those that you’re leading.
It seems like straightforward advice, but it can be difficult to implement.
“A lot of leaders struggle with being in the weeds of their business,” United Shore CEO Mat Ishbia says. “They think that they can just manage from 30,000 feet. That’s not how successful companies are run.”
So what does getting “in the weeds” look like for Ishbia, who runs a Troy, Michigan-based financial services business of 2,000 employees?
It means sitting with the IT department while they’re programming, checking in with the sales team about their latest calls, and even attending the company’s weekly dance party (despite his admission that he’s “not a very good dancer”).
“It is very important for any leader is to realise that your people are what make you successful — or unsuccessful,” he told Business Insider. “Anytime I have a team that’s struggling, I first look at the leader directly. Your team is a reflection of you.”
Ishbia’s focus on camaraderie also means throwing in some fun perks for employees.
“I talk to different people about culture and they think that’s a human resources thing,” he says. “I think it’s a CEO thing. It’s part of our strategy. The way we think about the culture at our company is we take great care of our people. Our people take great care of our clients.”
Recent perks at United Shore have included a pep talk from Magic Johnson, a Nelly concert at the office holiday party, and free, day-long access to a local fair.
“It’s so worth it for us to do those things, not only from a financial and business perspective, but it’s also more fun to be in a company where there’s always fun surprises and things happening, rather than just punching in every morning, working, and going home,” he says. “People drive everything. If you’re saying, ‘I have this great technology, it’s unbelievable.’ Well guess what? Who built the technology? Your people at your company. Who came up with the idea? Probably someone at your company. Leaders make mistakes by not really embracing a company’s culture.”
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