We liked a recent piece by Eric McNulty in strategy+business because it showed how CEOs from two seemingly completely different companies came to the same conclusions about the importance of employees finding meaning at work, supplying pathways for growth and development, and leading for a higher purpose–all themes central to Higher Ambition leadership. McNulty noted the difference as point of departure:
Sophi Tranchell, CEO of Divine Chocolate. Divine is a privately held social enterprise based in the U.K. that sources fair-trade cocoa beans from farmers in Ghana who are also part owners of the company. The second… is Bill Sandbrook, CEO of U.S. Concrete, a publicly held company based in the U.S. that produces ready-mixed concrete and aggregates.
Yet in his interviews, McNulty found five leadership basics that Tranchell and Sandbrook practice in common:
- Hire people who will find meaning in their work for you. For example, Tranchell looks for people focused on the mission as well as business results while Sandbrook seeks people who “like to build things”;
- Provide clear, compelling goals. Tranchell said, “You have to get good at telling stories so that people know why we are doing what we’re doing”;
- Give people a growth path that meets their goals as well as yours. Sandbrook noted that U.S. Concrete maps a clear path to rise to management. “Expect to make decisions early and be rewarded for performance,” he said;
- Foster a positive, supportive culture. Tranchell described Divine Chocolate’s culture as one that is “fair and inclusive” and “emphasizes sharing” and;
- Lead with a purpose higher than making the quarterly numbers. Trachell leads to create social change through the business while Sandbrook, reflecting his military heritage, described his as having his team “accomplish things they might not have even known were possible”.
Leading these two different companies makes for interesting reading. The insights are useful for Higher Ambition leaders in any organization and any industry.