Joe Johnson, president and chief operating officer of Wireless Zone, shares an altruistic take on leadership and success.
Leading a company demands much more than talent and ambition; just ask Joe Johnson, president and chief operating officer of Wireless Zone®. After holding multiple positions at Target Corp., Joe’s altruistic management style is making an impact at Wireless Zone.
Reflecting on his years at the executive level, Johnson doles out advice on how to selflessly and successfully lead a company toward a prosperous future.
Don’t let age hold you back. Age ain’t nothing but a number, after all. Depending on the type of leadership a company is seeking, youth can work to your advantage. Several factors trump age, including experience, management style and new ideas for the company.
“Age in and of itself is not necessarily valuable, but the experience and wisdom often gained is,” Johnson said. “There are other ways to absorb that, including mentors and a strong team.”
Build a dream team. Sure, building a squad bustling with versatility and talent is paramount when piecing together a staff, but it’s important to do so with a sense of focus. Assessing your weaknesses and finding colleagues to help you improve is key.
“Surround yourself with people with complementary skills that you don’t necessarily have,” Joe said. “Without that, you get a one-dimensional look of the company. It’s important that your team knows what unique skill they bring and that you value it – encourage them to speak up and be the champion of that perspective.”
Don’t sit in an ivory tower. Sure, that bigwig office may be cozy, but it’s important to continue forging a relationship with employees. Don’t allow yourself to become out of touch as you move further up in the company.
“To be able to listen and understand what’s really going on in your company as you move away from the front lines is incredibly important,” Johnson said. “You have to be able to observe and discern what’s happening in front of you from what’s actually happening within the company. Too often information gets filtered before it gets to you. Ensure you have a structure in place to stay connected to all levels and stakeholders in your organization.”
Build a vision. Forming a mission and articulating each employee’s importance in reaching it can help build a healthy workplace culture and sense of purpose throughout the company.
“Building a culture around a purpose and making sure that every employee understands how they contribute to that is very important. We all like to know that we are adding value and properly using our skills,” Johnson said.
Be trustworthy. Displaying the capacity to form meaningful relationships with colleagues and customers alike is an indispensable skill, especially when advancing through the executive level. By developing a reputation for trustworthiness, you can become a go-to person for forming partnerships, developing your company’s overall presence and shouldering more responsibilities.
Value your team. “In a franchise organization, there are a lot of moving parts,” Johnson said. “It’s important to value others as people and be altruistic to the company and your team.”
By demonstrating appreciation for your team, they will feel more satisfaction in their professional lives. Fostering a positive attitude and nurturing office culture will nudge employees to go the extra mile for the company.
Stop waiting; start doing. It’s easy to become intimidated by others at a young age, but having the confidence to seize new prospects—even having the gumption to make them for yourself—will set you apart from the pack. Stop waiting for that “perfect opportunity” to come along and never settle for a mediocre situation.
Never stop learning. From achieving personal enrichment to encouraging professional development, willingness to learn is vital to reaching your full potential.
“It often becomes too easy to settle into a job and develop bad habits,” Johnson said. “Stay open-minded and seek new ways of doing things. Constantly strive to improve and view everything from new perspectives. That’s how innovation happens.”
Embrace change. Change is unavoidable in every industry, and it’s important to accept it with grace and tact. Johnson has found that willingness to adapt, coupled with some healthy skepticism, goes a long way.
“What was true yesterday may not be today,” Johnson said. “At the same time, change for the sake of change isn’t healthy either. Change alone is hard enough, don’t forget the challenge it creates for those impacted by it. Be sure to bring them along and help them understand the reason for the change and what it will mean to them.”
Know who you serve. Moving up the corporate ladder doesn’t mean that the days of professional subservience are over. As you move through several positions throughout the company, it is important to maintain a grounded perspective.
“There’s a misconception that when you’re in leadership, you’re your own boss,” Joe said. “Every customer we have is my boss. Every franchisee is my boss. Every employee is my boss. Every organization has various stakeholders and my job is to support those people and be an effective leader to them.”