In a recently published article on utahbusiness.com, EnerBank USA® President & Chief Executive Officer, Charlie Knadler shares what he’s learned about leading leaders during his time as CEO.
He begins by explaining, “I have 300+ bosses. That might be surprising coming from a CEO, but it’s true. I work for the CFO of our parent company, who is the chairman of our board, the nine directors on our board, and each and every one of my employees. If I don’t help them succeed in their roles, I’ve failed in my job, and that means 300 livelihoods are in my hands. How do I make sure I’m leading them to be successful for themselves and the company, especially the senior management team tasked with leading others throughout the organization?”
Knadler continues by outlining five things he’s learned about leading leaders. They include:
1. Blocking for the team. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned was the need to “block” for the other senior managers so they can focus on the tasks that help their teams succeed. For example, in between board meetings, the vast majority of the communications with the board members and our chairman run through me to keep the senior leaders focused on achieving their department’s goals. Yes, our HR manager is working with the HR manager for our parent company and our accounting is working with their accounting, but I am the primary point of contact with our chairman and the other members of the board, which ensures messages are communicated consistently to some of the most important of my “bosses.” In that way, the board and our chairman get the entire picture of the operations of the company, not just one department’s view.
2. Don’t micromanage. At EnerBank, I point my senior leadership team in the right direction and then let them go. I am not a micromanager. If they are headed in the wrong direction, I nudge them in the right one. I’ve been told I give less feedback than most managers do, and some employees aren’t used to that, but it works for me. If you are micromanaging, you are not allowing managers and employees to do their jobs, nor are you benefitting from the expertise they bring.
3. Trust―and be trustworthy. Not micromanaging also shows a level of trust that leaders at any level highly value. When you show you trust them by letting them do their jobs, listening, and implementing their suggestions, they begin to buy into the plans and enjoy working for you and with you.
4. Get the team involved. Before I took on the position of CEO, my predecessor, Louise Kelly, and I created a development plan to prepare me for the CEO role. For example, each year, the CEO presents an update on the bank’s performance to the senior executives and board of directors from our parent company. A few years earlier, Ms. Kelly brought me along when she presented so I could observe the entire process. The following year, she gave me the lead in developing the plan, and we presented together. The year before she retired, I had primary responsibility for developing the plan and delivered the presentation on my own. So, while you want to block for the senior team to keep them focused, make sure you give them the right opportunities to learn and grow as leaders.
5. Give credit where due. Make sure you’re praising your senior leaders―and any employee really―when they have a success that helps your organization. Recently, we hit an important company goal by a very small margin, and we gave credit to everyone who had saved the company money because every dollar ended up counting. Showing appreciation is motivating, so more successes will follow.
Knadler concludes by explaining that, “Building your own leadership skills―and helping your leaders build theirs―will help your company be successful and ultimately meet the expectations of your bosses, no matter how many you have.”
FDIC insured EnerBank USA is a highly specialized, national consumer lender that helps strategic business partners and independent home improvement contractors increase sales. Strategic business partners include manufacturers, distributors, franchisors, member or trade associations, and major retailers of home improvement, remodeling, and energy saving products and services. They all rely on the bank to be here today AND tomorrow to fund customer loans and help them achieve their business goals and objectives. EnerBank is the bank of choice, we are reliable, professional, and we produce results.