Imagine a naval army base that has just received their new delivery of three brand new destroyers. Let’s call them for USS Frode, USS Heimen and USS Norway for the fun of it. The crew that is supposed to be on these three vessels has all been trained at the same base, with the same officers in charge. The vessels are all equal only separated by their great and unequal names. After running on the seven seas for about a year, the following was stated: USS Frode managed as predicted, USS Norway have had a lot of problems with the engine and in general been far below expected standards and USS Heimen have been the most decorated vessel in the navy the last year. It was the pride of the base. The reason I am starting in a naval style today is that I am searching for the keys to success.
As an employee you need to be proud of your job, to be able to shine. As a leader you need to create proud workers. Proud workers brag about their great job, they brag about how good their business is doing; they brag about how great their products and services are. They are proud to represent their company. Proud employees are good ambassadors for your image.
Still just being proud do not separate the good from the great, I am sure that the crew on all three vessels where proud from day one? What went wrong? And who is responsible for USS Norway’s repeating engine problems? This leads me to the next keyword; Responsibility.
Does the crew on USS Heimen demonstrate more responsibility than on the two other vessels? Most likely yes! I think the officers on the USS Heimen have been successful to develop a proud crew that is allowed to demonstrate a high level of responsibility. At your office, who is responsible for keeping the office tidy and clean? You? Your boss? Your co-workers? The cleaning staff? Or you don’t care, as long as someone else picks up your garbage? Fast rewind; back to the train mechanic; as he was being interviewed he was polishing away a spot on the engines side. The train should be spotless, even in the remote places that are out of view to the general public. USS Heimen did not contain dust and dirt where USS Norway was filthy. The crew took pride in keeping the destroyer in great shape. And it was everybody’s responsibility to keep it spotless, that resulting in not ignoring filth if they saw it, because someone else will pick it up.
As a leader you need to be able to demonstrate a vision and project this on to your employees. One of my favorite inspirations is a Norwegian author, advertising guru, consultant and soccer enthusiastic; Ingebrigt Steen Jensen. He wrote a book called “Ona Lighthouse” (I think it is only published in Norway) about creating a vision. He has been working for the Norwegian soccer club Stabæk for years since they were in lower divisions. And way back they had a vision about winning the Norwegian top division, and they did last season (2008). And a few years ago they created a new vision about playing the semi-finals of the European Championships at their new arena at Fornebu, Oslo. They have just built this arena, and established their new home venue before this season. And Ingebrigt have just been elected chairman of the board at Stabæk. The power of a great vision, proud members and people willing to take the responsibility pushed the vision into real life.
We have the roadmap, the route planned, we have proud people creating an engine and the mass is responsible for the results. But wait what if we get lost underway? And don’t know how to manage a crisis? The company needs to create a set of values to match their goals and visions. What kind of company is this? What kind of employees is needed? And what values are important to get us started? Ownership? Hardworking? Creative? Honest? Strong?
healthy? Knowledge? Clear values works as a compass on the roadmap, if you are stuck, the values might guide you forward. What values do you think the train mechanic has? He wants to preserve the old, share with others and is proud to show off a train that makes other enthusiasts go WOW!