A Helping Hand

InTouch - Newsletter - #56

Welcome to the fifty-sixth edition of “In-Touch”. As always, I would love to continue the conversation so let me know what you think by clicking here.

Story of the Week: "A Helping Hand"

Jiri Urbanec is the CEO of Santo, the biggest pharmaceutical company in Central Asia. He is extremely knowledgeable and, at the same time, wise enough to know that, as a leader, he needs to make a point of listening to his people and, when it comes to problem-solving, to help them to find answers and solutions by themselves. In this respect, he is leaning more towards being a coach than a mentor to his managers and employees.

Last week, in the snowy mountains of Kazakhstan, I had the good fortune to address Santo’s top management team. During an interactive leadership workshop – which turned out to be a learning process, not only for his team but for me too – I was told many stories about Urbanec’s management style. 

One of them, which highlights his focus on taking personal responsibility as well as encouraging teamwork, is the following:

One day, Jiri Urbanec noticed the poor state of one of the plants in the office. With him was the company’s HR Manager, whom he asked to water the plant and to ensure that it didn’t die. When the manager replied that he would find the responsible maintenance worker to take care of it, Jiri told him emphatically, “No, you’re the one who should make sure that the plant is OK.”

“Why me?” asked the surprised HR Manager. In response, Urbanec said, “Because if that guy hasn’t noticed the plant, it probably means that he is demotivated. Keeping the staff motivated is one of the tasks of HR and you’re our HR Manager.”

Jiri Urbanec’s attitude is that everyone at Santo needs to be ready to step in and help when a problem – no matter how big or small – arises. In this instance, he was not interested in blaming the maintenance worker for failing in his duties. He wanted the HR Manager to take the initiative and, in that way, show the person who had allowed the plant to wither that even the smallest task has value and should not be overlooked.

Jiri Urbanec was doing something else too. As he approaches retirement age, he is on a mission to create more leaders in his company and, like all great CEOs, he knows the value of encouraging people to lead by example. Lending a helping hand might work toward teamwork and team camaraderie.

Words of Wisdom

Why do you try to form a team?

“When you form a team, why do you try to form a team? Because teamwork builds trust and trust builds speed.” 

Russel L. Honoré 

A Question to Ponder, dear friend.

“What have you done lately to improve teamwork in your workplace?”