Last updated on September 15th, 2020
Modern-day businesses function well when they have a great work culture and environment for every stakeholder. Right from the employees to the middle and higher level of leaders, a company must first ensure a culture of excellence. That is the first and foremost condition for consistent growth in a competitive market. In this webinar transcript, brand building expert Bobby Umar shares his experience. Have a look!
Leave aside competing and growing in a competitive market; no business can even survive if its internal environment is not just perfect. Businesses with continued hurdles posing a threat from within vanish away in a few years. Such companies lose talented people soon and stop growing after some time.
Surely, you would not like to start a business on such a note. However, having a culture of excellence does not automatically come to a company. You have to build it gradually with a strategy. There are several components of creating an amicable culture, and you must know them beforehand.
So, Designhill, the leading creative marketplace, organized a webinar to give new business owners an insight into what the culture of excellence is all about and how to achieve it. The guest speaker was Bobby Umar, who shared his experience and gave vital advice in setting up new businesses with the perfect work culture.
Bobby Umar is the CEO of Discover Your Personal Brand. During the session, he shared his thoughts on creating a culture of trust and openness. He also showed the way to deal with vulnerability as a leader. He discussed how a leader could impact the mindset of employees and how to align with a team.
Here Is The Video Of The Webinar With Bobby Umar
Here Are Crucial Tips From Bobby Umar On How To Create A Culture Of Excellence
Designhill: How should leaders develop rolling up the sleeves and getting in a deep-end mentality rather than having to be a boss mentality?
Bobby Umar: You have to connect with your employees, teams, and everyone as a community. But you can’t do that sitting at that opposite top and not talking to the people. There are different ways you can do to make sure you are connecting with your employees and even getting in there and doing stuff with them. If they are going to work long hours on a project, you need to be there with them in the trenches.
The second thing is you have to be in tune with what’s going on. Some of the worst leaders have no idea what’s going on in their operations. They don’t plan and have no customer insights. It’s important to have a leadership philosophy to be there and to have a sense of what’s going on. I always talk about having an approachable brand where you’re the type of CEO willing to go to the other floors, visit people’s cubicles, and say hello.
Most of us are working in situations where things need to be done in a couple of days. And the leaders don’t make themselves accessible in some format. Then people are going to check out a novel lineup.
Also, when it comes to having that kind of roll-up-the-sleeves mentality, leaders should have two considerations. One is humility, knowing that you don’t know everything. Show that you have people on your team who know more than you, and they’re doing some great work for you.
The second thing is selflessness that it’s not about you. You have to take the time to know your employees, invest in their stories, and understand who they are. This is because when you create that connection, you create a powerful community of people. They are aligned with what you and the organization are doing, what the vision is. That happens when you create a tremendous change.
Designhill: How to deliver with the employer who is very offended on getting orders, or is very aggressive, or very rude?
Set a Friendly Tone
Bobby Umar: It always comes down to setting the tone and leading by example. When you want to lead by example, let people know who you are and how you operate. If you’re going to be authoritative and bossy, you can expect other people. Then, if you’re going to be someone who doesn’t listen, you can expect other people not to hear as well. So, I think that’s the first thing that comes into play.
Empower Your Employees
The second thing is to ensure that your employees that they listened to most people and employees. If they are not part of the project, they will talk negatively about your project. It is because they don’t feel like they’re part of the process and feel disconnected. They don’t feel like they’re part of the organization. So, they need to be engaged.
There are different ways for employees to engage. But one way to engage them is by having conversations and talking to them. You should have daily or weekly or monthly check-ins with people having an accessible type of culture around your leadership. These are all different things you can do to make yourself more accessible.
The other thing is to have that conversation. You should be willing to be vulnerable and admit mistakes. Tell them that you want their help as I can’t do it by myself. I need you. How can we work together on this? And when you ask that question, people will step up and feel connected.
And then finally, leadership is about decision making. Sometimes you have to make difficult decisions. I had to make a difficult decision. Just recently, I had to cut an employee, and it was just toxic. We had conversations, group sessions, but after four months, I found that this was not going anywhere. And so I let them go. It was hard, and to be honest, I probably took too long to do it because I’m a people pleaser, I want to help people advance.
But at a certain point, you made that decision to trim the fat or cut the toxicity because what’s happening is it’s affecting everybody else. One toxic person can take a team of 10 and slow them down by 50% for months. So, eventually, you have to make that decision.
Designhill: What to do if a leader wants to communicate his vision to the executives but does not want to make it sound like an order?
Bobby Umar: Creating a vision by yourself and sending it down to your employees makes zero sense. You have to empower your employees and leadership team to come up with the vision with you. That’s how you ally the organization, and it will take a couple of days or weeks to figure that stuff out. When I worked on my company, we spent days and hours on this to try to figure that out so that everyone felt good, because you want to set a vision that everyone can see.
When everyone can see the vision, then they’re more likely to want to work for now. They start asking how we get there because that’s the mission. Let’s now put a mission together. We could then work together on this and then look at the strategies, tactics, and processes. I think that that’s the first thing.
The best visions are created together, while the worst visions are created by yourself alone. And then do the check-ins. But check-ins depend on your organization size, scope, and the hierarchical structure. So, daily, weekly, and monthly check-ins are very, very helpful. Suppose you have a small team of 10 people who daily check-in, just for 20 minutes. They just look for what they are working on today.
That’s a fantastic way to get people aligned to the task for the day. And then, weekly check-in or monthly check-in allows people to share the week’s stories, the challenges, the ups and downs, and lets people know that you’re still accessible as a leader. I mean, the higher up you go in, the bigger organization, if you’re like a CEO of a company of 10,000 plus people then, that is hard. But you can still check-in daily with your leadership team.
A lot of organizations don’t do that. But you want to create a sense of community, moving forward, and accountability. Then, the daily and weekly check-ins are far more impactful to boost your business exponentially than the monthly and quarterly checks.
Designhill: Is a conflict going on between the US Patent Office versus productivity and how to balance this scale of output versus outcome?
Bobby Umar: I think that is a big challenge for a lot of people. The first step is to come up with a frank discussion about it to identify. First of all, we have to identify the fact that this is a problem in our organization. Once you and your other team members agree on this, find out how you will find out the ongoing issues.
The whole point of having that discussion is empathizing with what people are feeling and how they’re feeling that way. You need to understand some of the issues that people are having. This is because, as a CEO, or as a leader, you don’t know everything that’s going on. So, it would help if you took that time to listen, understand, and get that information from people.
Analyze Your Output Efforts
Then, once you have done that, they need to look at four things. Ask these four questions and get the answers. What efforts are being made? What kind of output is recreating, and what kind of outcomes are we getting from that effort and output? And, what’s the impact on that? When you look at those things, you have to also look at a few things like, how are we trying to do a task that’s so cheap, quick, and aligned with our values or mission.
Are we should be faithful to our purpose, and eventually, what we want to get to a point where the outcomes are greater than the impact and rarely output. But you want to have the ten times greater output to make an impact. But a lot of it takes time to analyze and figure that stuff out. It is similar to the people discovering their brand. Similarly, when I go into companies from a corporate situation and find out that they do not understand the symptoms and challenges around that.
Identify the Productivity Gaps
But if you take the time to analyze it, you might identify gaps and opportunities to help with productivity. And the last thing I’ll say is about productivity. Productivity will be increased when you work on alignment. A lot of people want satisfaction and motivation in alignment with their work.
Therefore, do some work around values and personal branding to see how they align with the company. Then you create more alignment and meaning with the work. When you do that, you have more clarity, purpose, and more direction. And that’s going to affect productivity, retention, loyalty, and track.
Designhill: How can a leader inspire and lead by example, with reduced human interaction with their colleagues and employers?
Do Team-building Events
Bobby Umar: I think that’s going to be the biggest issue of the day in the next couple of years because of COVID. We have to address this now. And it’s harder to engage employees and to create that human interaction when we’re online. I think it’s a big challenge. What I would suggest is to do a team-building event, which is a new trend. I often go to companies for their annual off-site and do a team-building event for them.
Use Meetings To Build Teams
But, I recommend doing team building events within your meetings. So if you have an hour meeting, set aside five to10 minutes for some team-building and fun activity. You could play a Jeopardy game or quiz show and don’t do that the end do somewhere like in the middle, because it may fire up the discussion that people may want to stick around for afterward.
I would say doing some sort of team-building event is powerful for around 40 minutes. You can also do the team building at the very beginning to get them all excited. And then I think the other thing required for online stuff is you need to have far more accountability. So someone should be there in the meeting to take notes and make sure you are clear on where they kind of lose responsibilities and tasks and what we’re doing.
Then, make sure everyone is aligned on that because people get very disengaged all the time when it comes to new calls. And the other thing I highly recommend has video calls. Seeing people’s faces, if you’re on video, you can’t be looking at other screens, and people are far more engaged. I think you should insist on having video calls every once in a while. And these are all different things you can do to increase that engagement and help. Human interaction is important when it comes to the remote workforce.
Designhill: What are the types of leadership styles?
Bobby Umar: There are different types. I mean, one type would be the authoritative type where a person just yells orders and tells you what to do. That’s one kind of the old leadership model from 50 years ago. But now it’s changing. There are other ones where there’s a coaching model leadership, where the coaches spend a lot of time coaching. The leadership team has coaching circles to make sure people have their needs met and help them move along in the path.
In the democratic model of leadership, people take in the information. Then, maybe they have a vote to build by consensus.
There’s also the affiliative model, which is something I usually do. I will make sure people come first and how to do things about it. You take a day off or take a break or let’s talk privately and see if we can discuss this matter. I’m more of an affiliate approach.
Collaborative Leadership Style
I’m also a bit of a collaborative leader, where I team up with two or three people on this thing and two or three people the other issue. Instead of saying, do this, I will let the three of us have a working session. It is like getting in the trenches with them. But I get entrenched with smaller teams to make things happen. I’m more of an affiliative and a collaborative tackler. That’s kind of my thing.
The authoritative model is something that we all sometimes do though in stress. For instance, if I have a significant deadline, then I will say just do that. If you’ve built up the social affiliation, the connection, you built up that trust that we talked about. You built the community. When you go for authoritative leadership, people are generally okay with it.
Designhill: How to change a pre-existing lazy culture?
Bobby Umar: The first thing is to understand what is a pre-existing lazy culture and how to identify it. What is the definition of a pre-existing lazy culture? We can know that only after having surveys and constant communication with your employees. You need to understand what they see. But again, I think it goes back to the summary of similar examples around conflict, which is also leading by example.
Lead by Example
Lazy people are going to see the job lazily. So, I think the number one step is that you lead by example. Number two, you have to dive in and try to understand what’s going on. And a good way to do that is to be vulnerable yourself and say, listen, sometimes I get lazy. When this happens, another team member might say I wonder sometimes you get lazy. You acknowledge and own up to your laziness because we all have distractions, no one’s perfect. It’s good to own up to that kind of stuff.
Share Your Vulnerability
When you acknowledge your laziness as a boss, you get a much better connection with people and trust. This is because they’re willing to share their thoughts about what’s going on. So, sharing that vulnerability can help. Thirdly, you should prefer more of a coaching leadership style. So, think of having a group coaching session or even have a facilitator come in and have a coaching session. In this way, you can see which are the good or bad things happening.
If you can flush out that laziness piece, you can then set up a follow-up meeting. You can tell that let’s dive into this laziness piece and what we can do to change that. And then identify those two or three people that are the toxic ones that are adding to the laziness culture. Give those people a chance to succeed that they don’t need to let them go.
You should be mindful of the brand of the company. So, what kind of brand is it? Are you collaborative? What do you promise to deliver? But ultimately, a company has a brand and a promise they deliver to their employees, their stakeholders, or partners or suppliers. When there is any sort of toxicity or laziness or any negative aspect of an organization, it will be seen by the other people, and you want to protect your brand at all costs.
Designhill: How not to injure loyalty and still empathize?
Help by Giving Support
Bobby Umar: You should understand that a business requires people to let go and then to transition. But, the number one thing is to offer support. So, when you let someone go, the relationship should not end there. Instead of saying that you do not want to deal with that person anymore, say that let’s have a conversation. How can I support you moving on because if there’s no fit here in the organization, how can you offer support?
The support can come in terms of coaching, transition services, training, or skills training or giving them the tools they need to get to their next thing. A lot of companies focus on just giving a compensation package. But it should be more than that. Money is nice, but people also want that support.
Have a Transition Interview
Number two, I think it’s good to have transition interviews, which are usually done by HR people. But they are not part of the team. I highly recommend someone within the team, or maybe a colleague of the same level and a superior, be there to listen to whatever you want to talk about. Just say what you want. Keep it completely and allow them a chance to hear and let them if they want to vent. Let him vent because the truth is, people have emotions, and they want to share their feelings. I think that’s an important piece.
And ultimately, listening, empathizing, and understanding is going to enhance relationships many times and even beyond. So a good way to help people afterward say, listen, I’ll offer you a great recommendation to help you get that next job. And they might, and they’ll speak nicely afterward. The way you treat people is going to reflect on how they treat you accurately. So you want to treat your employees like they’re working for you on the last day, and you want to make them have the best experience ever.
And so if they leave, they’re more likely to pay back in many ways, whether it’s through referring people to your organization or talking about you more nicely.
Designhill: Your HR point was nice because they do not interact with us every day. We are just going to them with this feedback and complaining, but they don’t know what’s going on?
Bobby Umar: Yeah, I’ve been to that too. I’ve given interviews with HR, and I wonder that HR does not even know who I’m or what’s going on. And I didn’t feel like I was listened to, and our report will be made. But when you have people that are on the team and the leadership team, they may take something you said, incorporate change, and that’s what you want in terms of being heard.
Designhill: Can we put forward a case study or anecdote that can probably perform as a template for most industries?
Bobby Umar: When I worked in corporate, I didn’t have very many good bosses. So, I find that is probably one reason I left the corporate world and became an entrepreneur. But I do remember one person I worked with for a special month-long program.
She taught me about leadership and still resonates with what we talked about today. Number one, she had a daily check-in with us every morning. So, every morning we would check-in for an hour in the morning plan. We were playing a leadership program. What was amazing was we didn’t plan that day. We planned the following day. She was visionary and thinking ahead.
Take Different Opinions
The first day we had was already planned out. She was planning the next day and checking in with us to make sure we’re ready for the day. I thought that was amazing. She always asked everyone’s opinions and was very collaborative. But then when she made a decision, she kind of went with it and people respected that. Outside of that, she was good about setting time aside for team building and bonding.
So, once a while, we go out for drinks or have some sessions where we had a little chat. I thought that she was creating a fantastic culture. I felt listened, empowered, and prepared for what we were about to do the day in advance. That was just a great collaboration style and listening and empathizing with who we are, what we’re, and what issues we are discussing.
Here is the other thing I’ll share from the leadership standpoint. When I worked in brand marketing for Kraft, I was marketing crappy to cheese, and the business was tanking. And when I was in charge of this $25 million portfolio, I learned that people didn’t care about the cheese. It was very profitable, but every profit and consumption was going down severely.
So I decided to come up with a plan to get people engaged and excited about this stuff. I tried the products like it doesn’t taste that great. I was new to it, but what do I do?. I want to get people excited. Then, I started doing everything I could to get people talking about this. I looked at every single touchpoint along how people saw grated cheese, and I made sure we made improvements.
Things hadn’t been improved in the processes or the marketing or promo materials for a decade. I updated the website, the packaging, and the component materials. I started putting canisters of green sheets everywhere in the building, and people call me, hey Zurich, why is there a canyon? Oh, did that grade sheet, and I started talking about it. On Halloween, I dressed up as I could read cheese and had grilled cheese earrings. I did everything I could just to get people first aware of this amazing product and its profitability.
I then got people talking about it and made some changes within all these different touchpoints. After two years of work, we’ve had our first uptick in profit sharing everything across All the boards in like ten years, and it took about a year and a half to get those results, but it worked. In leadership, change doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time, effort, consistency, and passion. It takes building the brand and awareness of people to let them know what it is and why it’s important. In this way, you develop excitement around the product or the team or the organization. And when you do that, that’s when the magic happens.
Designhill: What advice would you give to the leaders who are starting new businesses? What are some things that you learn in the process?
Bobby Umar: I’ve started several businesses, but I would say the biggest thing for starting a business is putting together the pitch, the plan, and wherever it is. You should tell everybody about it and get feedback, and get them to challenge you on everything. You should ask yourself difficult questions, criticize this and that, and confront this. You must do to hone in and make sure everything you have, and you thought of everything. Make sure that you have a crystal clear solid plan that people can get behind.
Then the second advice is that you have good people with you. It’s pretty hard to do something by yourself. So, when I did that, I started talking about this plan all over the place, and people got very excited. Next thing, I got three or four people to join me on this plan. They became part of my initial leadership team. And that also is another way to start the business.
Get Expert Advice
The third way to start a business is by having some coach or a team of advisors. Having a coach or team advisor is powerful because they’re a sounding board. They provide focus accountability, most importantly, curriculum, and a good coach. You have to do a dozen things. So, it’s important to have that advisory board to help you.
Then, I learned the process. As the CEO of VoIP, I had very strong opinions on our vision, mission, strategy, and tactics. But if the team, particularly the Georgia team, is seeing things differently, I need to open my eyes, listen with empathy, and understand where they’re coming from. If they’re confused, I understand where the confusion is, because this is my team. I’ll be most successful if the top three or four people who are with me are also on board. I think that was quite powerful.
Put Together An Effective Plan
I think the last thing to say is, you can’t do the business well unless you put together a plan where you’re talking to people getting feedback from your potential customers. You have to put out there and ask questions and see what people think. Once you do that, you’ll have a better sense of the market and how much they’re willing to pay and what they think about it. And you’ll leverage your potential customers or present customers to evolve and grow your products and services.
Also, I will advise to have a personal brand and thought leadership in digital marketing strategy. Create your brand around your content, relationship building, and storytelling. If you want to become a thought leader, you should build deep and broad relationships. You have to create new ideas and content online, particularly on someplace like LinkedIn. Additionally, work on your speaking and writing skills, and continually work on those things. It is because when you do those three things, then you’ll become a go-to expert.
Designhill: What in your experience has been the leadership style that has been the most successful?
Bobby Umar: It varies depending on the type of company, culture, and employees you have. Every company is different, and your company is your baby. You have to be mindful of what type of employees and people they are. Are they young or old? Do they want more direction feedback coaching? Do they want you just to set the tone? Are they more task-oriented? So I think it all depends on different factors.
That said, I think it’s incredibly important to be connective. This means that you’re taking the time to understand and listen to people. You understand who they are and know what personality types they are. You know what drives, motivates, and fuels them. That connection and empathy is the leadership 2.0 model.
Have a Collaborative Approach
You should then have a collaborative approach, which is important because the authoritarian way doesn’t work anymore. Or, it doesn’t work that well. My favorite type is the connective and collaborative type of leadership that allows people to have a voice. It helps build community in your organization. Also, it allows people to feel part of the process. You know what’s going on in every single department, and how you empower people to employees. Additionally, you have a good sense of how to leverage all that social capital and take off and fly as an organization.
About ten years ago, communication was the number one skill. Now, communication and empathy go hand in hand. I mean, empathy requires active listening, which is part of communication. But empathy is the thing that people want to get from their leaders. This is because they want to feel more empowered and more productive and create those better cultures of excellence.
Designhill: How should a leader place or distribute himself?
Bobby Umar: When you start a business, you’re doing a lot of execution strategy, and that should always be part of the game. But as you move along and have more employees, team members, a leader should certainly always be part of a strategy piece. Eventually, you start to let go of some execution. When I started my first company, I hated doing things like bookkeeping. I don’t do bookkeeping anymore.
So, you find a way to outsource bookkeeping, social media marketing, operational stuff, etc. When you get to a strong point in a large organization, the strategy should be a huge part of your doing. And the execution should be done with the higher level team. With my VPS, my directors are working with them to execute certain things or certain tasks. There’s still an execution part where I’m rolling my sleeves and getting with them.
You may want to visit the other employees at the other end of the big organization to see how they’re doing. But ultimately, where you want to be is you want to be involved in the strategy of things. No matter how high you get, you also want to have a touchpoint with what’s going on and not get out of touch with your leader.
So, pay attention to these valuable tips from Bobby Umar. Since he spoke from his vast experience, you need to implement those tips even more enthusiastically for better results.
Besides creating a culture of excellence, you also must ensure that your brand visuals such as logo, brochures, business cards, websites, etc. leave a lasting first impression.
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Businesses can function efficiently and register growth only when they have a culture of excellence. This helps each employee and different leaders to give their best to a company. Bobby Umar advises to communicate well and build relationships. Companies should empower and encourage employees and other people to share their stories and views.