Ten Critical Steps to Achieving Magnetic Leadership
Dianne Durkin, author of the book The Power of Magnetic Leadership, uses the lessons learned from dozens of successful company leaders to explain how the best leaders engage employees, set the example by showing how to play well with others, and inspire people by demonstrating that every action they take is relevant to them.
“The best leaders,” she says, “are people who know how to listen, can make a promise and deliver on that promise, and have stepped up to the plate and made the necessary investment to successfully engage their employees”.
The best leaders motivate, inspire and energize people by connecting the vision, values, purpose and business goals of the organization to individual values and needs. Here are some of the top actions she recommends to people seeking to improve their success as a leader.
1.Develop Your Vision. Make sure you have a vision with the purpose and values to make it real. State where you are going clearly. State your purpose simply. Express your values – the things that you use to guide every action people take at work – directly.
2. Identify Your Leader Type. Knowing who you and what type of leader you are helps you and others identify where, when and how to best behave and act to focus their energy to achieve the goals and objectives you set out for them.
3. Track Your Leadership Development Progress. Keep a leadership log to document what you do and what happens. Review what happens regularly. Reflect on what you are learning and how you are changing.
4. Recruit and Retain the Right People. Identify what makes individuals successful in your culture, and recruit for those skills. The culture will keep them loyal and happy, and exceed all expectations. Improve your interview and listening skills so you can hear what your employees are saying. Document and take immediate action when you identify something that needs to be improved.
5. Engage, Empower and Enrich Your Employees. Invite employees to become part of your vision. Empower them to be a force of change and be enriched by your culture. Make your employees part of the solutions, by giving them a role and the responsibility for implementing solutions to major business issues.
6. Create a Work Environment that Fosters Creativity and Innovation. Go beyond simply improving the physical environment. Focus on how people feel to work there. Evaluate the energy when you walk the floors. How connected to their teams do virtual or remote workers feel? Make changes to ensure that the work environment fuels your objectives and helps to achieve your goals.
7. Appreciate and Reward Your Employees. Develop and deploy a schedule that regularly and meaningfully rewards employees to create a culture of appreciation. Assess and improve the way you reward people so that you are sensitive and responsive to the differences in age, education, maturity, and demographics.
8. Focus On the Things That Inspire Your People. Identify what inspires you and your employees. Do they need more education and training, more creative time and cross-training opportunities, wellness programs to promote less stress and better health, or even a sabbatical? Develop and improve the key programs that your people need to stay engaged and loyal.
9. Improve The Most Important Things First. Identify the most significant of your short comings head-on. Identify what is impacting your own progress and what is holding you back. Are you a poor listener, a technophobe, or do you yell and rave? Admit it. Then take action to get help, fix your problem, and improve your own performance, skills and abilities.
10. Visualize the Future. Identify where you see yourself in 10 years, 20 or even 30 years? Define the characteristics of the leader you want to be and what the future looks like for you. Describe the way you will balance your personal life and that of your organization and its people. Document how you will build loyalty and trust with your leadership.
Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl
Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.
With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.
You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?
I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.
We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.
What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?
I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.
The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.
I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.
What does success look like to you?
I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.