”They used to say in the industry: location, location, location. I say people, people, people; you invest in stores, you invest in events, but investment in people is the most important.”
That strong statement is from Sidney Toledano, the CEO of Dior, speaking in a recent interview in the Financial Times.
Sometimes, as we read articles or books, there are certain words or statements that stop us cold. We have all heard the maxim about retail being the 3 Ls. However, I think this is the perfect transformation from a hard to soft competency. While at one time it was about real estate and a hard location, that dynamic has changed. However, there are a lot of organizations that did not get this memo.
Understanding the new approach
This viewpoint is so connected to the “new” organization. You cannot expect business results unless you view your strategy through the lens of talent. I say “new” organization as the majority of companies classed as “best places to work” by whatever process are, for the most part, newer companies.
As I read Toledano’s comment, I recalled a conversation I had with a senior leader concerning turnover. What he said to me was, “Let them leave and we will find someone who can do it cheaper.” That is the 3L approach. Whether it is banks, factories, geographical regions, it does not matter. The locations that produce the best results within your company are the ones that are people focused. Whether it be the leadership at that branch, or factory, or that region, the superstars are always driven by a people connected leader.
Making the transition
As we move away from the old command and control concept of leadership into the new realm, we must be mindful of how entrenched the old style is in some organizations. At one time it was by far the most common leadership style. Most of today’s leaders still caught in the time warp were mentored themselves by command and control managers, and the culture of so many of those organizations is still based on command and control norms.
The new leaders whose focus is on the 3Ps all exhibit – for the most part – the following: values, which each company chooses. For example, our values are:
• Leads from the side
• Trust and delegates
• Asks questions and solicits suggestions
• Treats staff as colleagues
Saints vs. sinners
It may appear, as we read about the different leadership styles, that it comes down to command/control vs. people manager. But from every indication today, the pendulum has swung to a soft skill-based style. According to an article in Psychology Today, the top 10 competencies for the new leader are all soft based. However, in a lot of businesses today career progress is based on technical skills. Best engineer becomes the manager of other engineers. Best salesperson becomes the sales manager. This concept has a detrimental effect over a period of time. People are put in roles based on a skill that has nothing to do with managing.
The new work environment
A lot of work today is based on a team or project concept; yet that dynamic is not taken into consideration when leaders are chosen. However, to produce timely results for business initiatives, new leaders must have a skill set that syncs with teams. This is because the role of this new leader is to inspire and lead a team as a collaborative effort.
The headwinds facing the organization today will require a rethinking of leadership models. The task is to find the success model within these organizations and build to that blueprint. What is evident today is the right people in the right roles and managed by the proper manager is the formula that will spell success.
So my new mantra is the emerging presence of “People, People, People.” That is easy enough to say, but for any organization to be successful in this new environment, they must fully embrace it.