Szaky is the founder and chief executive of TerraCycle, a company that sells consumer products made from recycled waste. Sure, I like what his company does … but that’s not why we need scores of Szakys. We need to replicate this guy for his enlightened leadership.
In a column he wrote for The New York Times’ “You’re the Boss” blog, Szaky shared a handful of TerraCycle initiatives designed to “boost morale and build a sense of community among staffers,” as he put it. The best of these initiatives, by far, was devoted to transparent communication. Szaky wrote:
“When I started TerraCycle more than eight years ago, I wasn’t the most transparent leader. I would share good news but hold back on bad – especially with less senior employees. While this made me feel more in control, it had the opposite effect on everyone else. So a few years ago we started doing something different: the leaders of every team and every office must submit a report to the entire company every Friday that details everything positive and negative that has happened in their areas in the past week. I then take some time on the weekend and reply with comments, copying the entire company. So everyone, from a customer service rep in our Brazilian office to a team leader sees every department’s report along with my comments. While this reporting structure requires an investment of time, it has created an extremely transparent corporate culture.”
Bravo, Mr. Szaky! Transparent communication doesn’t diminish a leader’s control. It enhances it, just as it enhances a company’s performance.
Employees CRAVE a leader who respects them enough to communicate with them openly and personally. A leader who isn’t afraid to talk about what’s working and what isn’t within the company. This is the kind of leader employees are eager to give their trust, loyalty and passionate effort to, day-in and day-out.
Mr. Szaky, if you’re out there … get thee to a clonery.