Focusing on Continuous Improvement

Continuous ImprovementWhen you love what you do, it isn’t considered a job – right? I continue to be amazed by the people I get to work with and the changes we see every day. It was truly an honor to be elected by our Chairman and Board of Directors to be the CEO of Decker.

Getting to run Decker with my wife Kelly is fun, and we don’t usually think of our titles or take them that seriously. I suppose that’s one reason why Bert Decker is an important mentor and Chairman – he emphasizes the value of roles and titles as our organization continues to grow. This new title has made me look at how I challenge myself to improve and help lead this company to more lofty goals.

I recently got to work with an advisor to many great CEOs, Kirk Dando, who runs Dando Advisors. I told him that so much of what we do with our C-level clients is similar. He pushes them to find their weaknesses and be proactive vs. reactive – with a focus on strategy and process. My colleagues and I do the same thing – keeping our focus on communication. In both cases, that extra push makes a big difference.

This week, we issued a press release that shared our 2012 results – results we achieved by pushing our partners to new heights. We kicked off 2013 at Decker by pushing our team to new heights, too. I loved that we got out of our comfort zones with The Second City, working through improv and thinking on our feet. It was also encouraging that Bert saw the value of our collaborative leadership style.

This Sunday, many of us will watch a strong leader think on his feet, literally. I’m referring to Jim Harbaugh, head coach of the Super Bowl-bound San Francisco 49ers. According to journalist Dan Nakaso, Harbaugh uses his intensity to fire up those around him and isn’t afraid to make tough decisions. His passion bleeds through, letting his team know that he cares.

I regularly coach CEOs and leaders to do exactly what Harbaugh does: Show people that you care. As leaders, of course we care, but it doesn’t always come across that way. That’s why when we communicate, we always have to begin by considering our listeners’ point of view.

Communication, like most phases of our lives, is a process of continuous improvement. So, too, is leadership. Today when I change my title on my LinkedIn profile, something that I once considered a formality, it will now serve as a reminder to keep looking forward and always continue to improve.

(Oh yeah, and Go Niners!)