How strong leadership and building the right team leads to success

There are so many tropes and phrases about strong leadership and teams that you almost tune them out. Yes, leadership matters. Yes, success starts at the top. Of course, building teams of like-minded individuals most often leads to success.
We hear these things so often, most of us probably fail to think about how they actually impact us at work. Or our clients. 
But here’s the deal: Strong leadership and building a team of like-minded professionals can and DOES have a dramatic impact on your business. I’ve seen it firsthand during my 19-year career here at Matlen Silver. 
“Strong leadership” and “building teams” feel hollow without real-world examples. Let me illuminate what those phrases have meant for my career at Matlen Silver and our growth/success, then give you an idea of how they could positively impact your business. 

Strong leadership literally helped me define my career path

I had no plan when I first began my career. Coming out of college, I  knew that I was a “people person” and wanted to work with and help people. Other than that, I was open to the career opportunities that were awaiting me as a fresh graduate. 
I didn’t know anything about recruiting when Matlen Silver recruited me, but I quickly realized it was the perfect fit for me based on my experience, strengths and skills. 
Suffice it to say, then, that I had zero idea where I wanted my career to go in the long run! 
Once I was on board, I quickly fell in love with the company, my colleagues and my job. Although I had no idea what I wanted out of this new job and career, I had such a strong support system. I have been spoiled from Day 1 in that regard, because I haven’t experienced what it’s like to work at an organization that doesn’t support and nurture its talent!
That support system started at the top of the company and worked its way down to my level as a recruiter. I never felt afraid to dabble in and try something new. In fact, I was encouraged to dabble, ask questions and grow. 
Now, 19 years later, I excitedly share with prospective employees that Matlen is literally a place where you can create your own path. Years after I was a recruiter and had moved into sales (thanks to lots of dabbling and support from leadership!), I was about to move into a sales director role and was heading out to potentially close a big deal. 
Our CEO at the time called me up to wish me luck. That alone is an incredible feeling — to know that leadership is eager and excited for your growth. But he added something that has really stuck with me over the years, and that I’ve passed down to many members of my team.
Toward the end of our call, he added, “Before you hang up, remember, you’re not alone. We’re here, and we’ve got you.” 
There was a noticeable pep in my step as I headed out the door. I had truly unbridled confidence that, no matter what happened, I had real support if I didn’t have all the answers. 
That’s an incredibly comfortable place to be in, for any professional in any role. 

Strong leadership provides more than lip service

Company culture is such a buzzword nowadays. Many organizations like to tout their carefully-crafted culture statements. New talent comes in expecting one thing based on this messaging, only to discover that the actual day-to-day realities of working in that company don’t represent that supposed culture at all. 
I don’t think this is a deliberate attempt to mislead talent. Rather, many organizations struggle to implement the changes needed to truly build and nurture a strong culture. It’s pretty easy to define who we want to be, but it’s much harder to become that person. The same goes for companies. 
And although we had a strong culture here when I first joined the Matlen team, our culture has shifted dramatically, and emphatically in a positive direction in recent years. Our leadership realized that the future of our and any business depended on our ability to foster an environment of mentorship and support.
As Matlen Silver evolved, everyone bought into this new vision and what it meant for the company, for our team and for each of us individually. We all started to lean on one another, rather than trying to go-it alone. We started thinking more about “us” and less about “me.” 

Strong culture helps you build successful teams

As I mentioned before, there’s an incredible network of support here at Matlen. You know your team and your bosses have your back, and that empowers you to take action and make decisions on a daily basis. 
Everyone here is encouraged to own his or her role – there’s no micromanaging. That’s because we know and expect that the people who we bring aboard are willing and eager to put in hard work to achieve their goals and grow along their path. 
There’s an important mindset at Matlen that comes, again, from the top. When decisions are made or someone on the team is working toward a goal, the mindset is always Company > Office > Individual. We look at how it will affect the company first, the specific office or location second and the individual third. When you realize that everyone — and I do mean everyone — is acting with the company’s best interest first, it frees you from the ego and barriers that come with working for yourself first. We are all working to help and grow the company, first and foremost. We’re all on the same team. 
And that type of environment is not for everyone. Not everyone can thrive here; this type of environment isn’t for everyone. Sometimes, folks are just too used to the standard corporate structure and culture to take the reins and run with it. 
We are fiercely protective of our culture here. Egos and negative attitudes can seep into the culture and destroy it from the inside out, and our team just won’t let that happen. Our internal recruiters and leadership all understand at the deepest level how each member of the team fits into our culture and bigger picture. 
So, we set clear expectations from the get-go. We are incredibly transparent with who we are, how our company is aligned and what we expect from our team. When I’m interviewing potential members of my team, I always ask two key questions:

  • What are you looking for?
  • If you could write your job description, what would it say?

Candidates are always going to include what’s most important to them when answering those questions. By asking these up front, I will know right off the bat whether or not the company (and I as their manager) can meet those needs and make them happy. 
Because I had that strong support from Day 1 here at Matlen so many years ago, I’m able to do that now for the teams I’m building (and they’re building!), continuing to expand, nurture and strengthen the culture that drives so much success for us.  
When you combine the elements of leadership and culture, the impact on our company’s success has been dramatic. Since our culture shift, Matlen Silver has increased revenue 233%. Our growth and success starts with our culture and our people. No question about it. I feel fed here, as a professional and as a person. I know my colleagues feel the same. That affects us each day as we work with clients, meet with prospective clients and have conversations with our consultants. And we are PROUD of it!

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