No topic in business inspires as great a fervor as that of leadership. What makes a successful leader? Can anyone become one? Is effective leadership an innate set of character traits, or a precise sequence of actions? These questions have been frequently addressed in articles, books and debates worldwide, particularly as the environment and tools surrounding leadership and talent continually evolve.
We spoke with Gravitas Impact coach Lynn Hartrick about the lessons he’s learned in Leadership over his 20 years as a business coach. “Leadership seems to be taking on this complexity,” Hartrick shares, “as we talk about ‘special attributes’ or ‘certain skillsets’ a leader needs to be effective. However, the best examples are models of simple leadership, without that element of complexity or mystery.”
“The best leaders set the vision, identify and hold the values in place in their organization.” Hartrick says. “And with that vision and those values in mind, they put their ego aside and surround themselves with ‘Crackerjack’ people.”
‘Crackerjack’ is a term Hartrick brings from his childhood, an adjective his grandfather used to describe something of excellence or value. In his coaching business, Hartrick often compares the concept of ‘Crackerjack’ people to Topgrading’s ‘A Players.’ “These people are independent thinkers, who want to be engaged in the organization and own their responsibilities,” Hartrick says.
“A lot of leaders think they have an obligation to have all the brightest ideas, all the key concepts. That kind of leadership might be effective, but it’s not sustainable. You need diversity of ideas and competencies on the leadership team. If you need a competency, you need to search for it. ‘Crackerjack’ people bring a high level of competence and high level of passion to your organization.”
“The challenge,” Hartrick shares, “is attracting ‘Crackerjack’ people as a leader. How do I find them, how do I keep them and how do I know that I have them?”
“It doesn’t happen overnight, it takes intentional work. But it’s the number one thing you can do to be successful as a leader. You need to actively seek these team members. If you stumble upon one, make room for them. Make the decisions necessary to onboard them, and open yourself up in a transparent, ongoing style with the team as you assemble it.”
Creating a ‘Crackerjack’ Environment
Hartrick also addresses a misconception about finding these key people, “It’s not so much about a scarcity of ‘Crackerjack’ players, it’s also about letting them show themselves. You need to put them in an environment where they can blossom.”
A ‘Crackerjack’ environment is one where:
- Action is Revered
- Freedom of Thought is Applauded
- There is a Bias for Action
- It is Safe to Disagree
- There is Diversity of Thought and Ideas
- Every Day is Purpose-Driven and Values-Guided
“No-one has more accountability for creating this culture than the leader,” Hartrick says. “To be a leader in today’s world is extraordinarily exciting, but the new tools at our disposal are just tools, unless we use them in an intentional way.”
Gravitas Impact Coach
Hartrick provides provides Executive Coaching and Business Advisory services to Owners and Leaders of small and mid-market organizations that are seriously committed to scaling their companies into even more successful businesses. As a business coach, he brings world class tools and educational offerings that are proven catalysts to organizational performance including the growth of the Top Line, the Bottom Line, and the Executive Teams who lead and manage it all.