I am really happy and honored to be able to feature Phil Molyneux here in my Sphere of Influence series. A previous blog post I wrote, “A Glimpse of Real Leadership”, was inspired by Phil. Phil really changed the way I looked at senior leadership at big brands. As a worker bee, it was easy for me to think that there would be no relationship between myself and someone at the top like Phil, but I was wrong. All of the credit for initiating contact goes to Phil. From the moment we were introduced to him, he was open and honest and genuinely wanted feedback. He set up an email address where everyone could send him feedback and he promised to respond and he did. He always wanted to hear new ideas and suggestions of new ways to do things. Whenever we spoke or met, even in passing, he was engaging. When he spoke to you, you knew that you had his attention, and that he wasn’t looking past you and on to the next person. He empowered people. If you gave him a good suggestion he wanted you to be a part of the solution. A genuine people person, Phil was well respected and liked by everyone that I’ve spoken to. I’ve never seen the level of public support from employees for Phil with anyone else I’ve worked for, and that says a lot. I was able to get the opportunity to ask Phil some questions about leadership, and I’m thankful for him for taking the time so share his insights.
Me: I really admired the fact that you wanted to hear feedback from everyone, no matter who they were in the company. Why is it important for leaders of businesses to hear feedback from all of their employees and staff, not just their direct reports?
Phil Molyneux: I believe that everyone in any organization is capable of bringing rich and beneficial ideas to help the company move positively forward. Top management in large companies cannot see all that is going on, the positives and the not so positives, what is working and what needs attention. Management also does not have all the answers. By connecting with as many people inside the organization you gain rich inputs and information that may not make it to the board room, real issues that may not get solved through the normal reporting routes. In addition, if you are an authentic leader and wish to treat the people in your teams the way you would like to be treated you have to make connections and relationships, it really helps motivation, engagement and hence productivity, everybody wins, it helps if you enjoy meeting you wider team, I know I do.
Me: Another thing that I was impressed with that I mentioned earlier was the fact that you empowered people to be a part of the solutions that they proposed. Why did you feel it was important?
Phil Molyneux: That is very simple, if people bring proposals on business ideas, process improvements or innovation and are passionate about it, I can think of no better way than to have them own it. By empowering people to go out and get it down, the energy levels and commitment to succeed skyrockets. It makes it a fun and exciting environment to work in. I get a thrill from seeing people succeed when they see the benefit of their work to the company as a whole.
Me: Having a team that supports you and will willingly go to bat for you as a leader is so important. What is some advice that you can give about motivating a team to do that?
Phil Molyneux: I have a simple philosophy about leadership, unless you have the people behind you, you won’t get much done at all. To get the team to go bat on your side, you must connect with people at all levels, you need to be authentic in your leadership and really care about the people who are giving their all for the company and essentially you as a leader. Thank you’s go a long way and are not given out enough in the day to day working environment. Of course you must have a strategy that everyone one can understand and see the value of, you must structure the needed work so everyone can see their part to play but the little things like a smile, a thank you, making time to talk with people up and down the organization makes all the difference in building a truly engaged and motivated team.