"How I learned to lead by doing (almost) everything wrong"
A pretty revealing statement, wouldn't you say?
Well, this a statement (turned book subtitle) from one of today's most influential and experienced GenY entrepreneurs: Kristen Hadeed.
Kristen is the Founder and CEO of Student Maid™. Student Maid is a unique residential and commercial cleaning enterprise, only hiring students(yes, students!) meeting a minimum 3.5 GPA requirement. Student Maid is known in the cleaning industry for its people-centric culture and high employee retention rate.
She's been in the cleaning biz for roughly eight years. Let me rephrase that: she's been failing in the biz for roughly eight years. Note: Rest assured, she's now crushing it. But it wasn't always that way.
In fact, for Kristen and her team and company, it's been anything but fair winds and following seas. What was once a shot at perfecting a company has now turned into a story of leading and failing and the vicious and reciprocal relationship between.
So why do so many leaders and entrepreneurs believe so strongly in perfection? Actually, why do so many people in general believe perfection is actually something to be admired, or even something that actually exists on planet Earth?
Truth is, there is huge difference between aspiring to be our best selves and attaining "perfection".
That's why you have permission to screw up
Kristen Hadeed did not set off to build a new type of cleaning company. In fact, it was merely a slight fascination with a pair of denim would she then go on to unintentionally, but unabashedly start Student Maid.
Star wipe to the present day and now Student Maid intentionally, still unabashedly builds leaders. They have been since for years now. Their customers are happy because Kristen's people are happy. So why, then, did 75% of Kristen's company quit all on one day?
Student Maid has become a place where self-reliance and self-discovery are the norm; the psychological safety net that is ingrained in the culture allows people to make mistakes. Built-in bonds of leadership oversight is provided to help new members make mistakes and become acclimated with problem solving. Why then have people still violated the bond of trust that can tarnish customer relations?
The message we send our students every time we ask them to do something on their own is "I trust you, and I believe you are capable...deep down people really want to know how they're doing at work." -- Kristen Hadeed
Kristen trusts people with enormous responsibility, allows them to screw up, then gives them the opportunity to fix their mistakes so they can learn from them. Of course, leaders can't (and shouldn't) protect people from making mistakes. It's a fact: people feel immensely accomplished when they accomplish something themselves. So, how do respond when a freshly minted intern accidentally allocates an additional $40K to student employees in one payday?
Constructive feedback loops should be constant. The more feedback that is given, the more people welcome it and are confident in giving it. Clients should be able to provide feedback too. People must be able to track their performance. Kristen is even reminded that leaders need feedback too! But, what happens when your team calls you too friendly or a pushover?
A company's culture is not defined by perks or fringe-benefits. It's defined by it's people. A company's culture is something you feel. The company culture and values must be mutually agreed upon by the leadership at all levels and team members at every level. Well, what happens when the culture gate was left unguarded?
Kristen is confident to stand on the line of accountability with her team. And as the leader, she is ultimately responsible for bringing the company values to life. But sometimes she comes up short. How did this diminish the level of respect of trusted team members along the way?
It's really hard to walk away from money on the table, especially when you're a cleaning company with small profit margins. So what happened when Kristen allowed her company to become different when big money was on the line?
Bottomline: Success is measured as a leader by the way you make people feel, the way you positively affect their mindset, and the growth they experience when they are with you and especially when they are without you.
Kristen Hadeed got (almost) everything wrong. That's why she is now one of today's most accomplished and successful leaders/entrepreneurs. And most importantly to her, it is why her teams of people go on to lead their own successful lives, teams, and businesses!
Find her new book, Permission to Screw Up here! Kristen talks about what really happened in her business that led to bruised egos, crushed confidence, and shattering mistakes that rocked her to her core. She holds no punches in this tell-all story that has led to her massive success! A must read for all aspiring leaders and entrepreneurs of all ages!