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CultureFeb 21, 2017

Leadership Through Conversation: Lunch With New Hires & Leaders

Christian Buechel

When we think of leadership in the workplace, the visual that may come to mind is Steve Jobs, black turtleneck and all, standing atop a stage delivering an inspiring speech about an upcoming iPhone launch. Or maybe we think about the charismatic Elon Musk giving a rousing presentation about the next rocket launch into space in front of a room full of bright-eyed SpaceX employees.

We can associate the concept of leadership with one-sided, grand demonstrations because they are the most readily visible illustrations. Companies are known for extravagant annual meetings where the CEO rallies the troops to have a successful upcoming year. While these can be examples of leadership, the majority of employees understand that effective leadership cannot be achieved in the form of a yearly round-up and pump-up session.

True leadership in the workplace can only be achieved through committed, thoughtful interaction on an ongoing basis. It must be a conversation.

Leadership at Credera

When I began at Credera, I was impressed by the heavy emphasis placed on providing accessibility to senior leadership for all employees, especially within their first year. The partner team makes a concerted effort to interact with new hires at events throughout the year, both formally and informally. After work happy hours, open door meetings, and impromptu conversations in the halls are commonplace.

An Example in Leadership Conversation

One event in particular has been especially beneficial for new hires to spend time with senior leadership: a lunch with Credera partners and new hires. At the end of your first few months at Credera, all recent hires are invited to have lunch with the partners and leaders of each practice to discuss positive experiences and improvement opportunities. Each new hire is asked two questions to guide the conversation:

  1. What has been the most positive experience about Credera in your first month?

  2. What opportunity for improvement have you seen for Credera in your first month?

As each new hire takes their turn answering, the partners ask follow-up questions and furiously scrawl notes on subjects to follow up on later. Talking points often include difficult questions regarding diversity and financial security. Nothing is off the table. The responses from new hires are thoughtfully listened to, discussed, and recorded in the continuous pursuit of making Credera a better place to work. This lunch is not a ceremonial event intended to give the illusion of leadership; it is a concrete example of how Credera embraces leadership.

Why Dialogue Matters

The lunch demonstrates commitment to a model of leadership that focuses on establishing a dialogue rather than a monologue. Leadership should not be in the form of giving orders or one-sided messaging. Instead, effective leadership occurs when an environment of mutual conversation in the workplace is created.

Harvard Business Review has stated that, “Smart leaders today, we have found, engage with employees in a way that resembles an ordinary person-to-person conversation more than it does a series of commands from on high.” I believe Credera works hard to foster this form of leadership from the top down, even as scale inevitably attempts to hinder it.

As Credera continues to grow, a persistent challenge will be maintaining the close distance between senior leadership and all employees. In order to confront this challenge, Credera and the senior leaders are committed to pursuing leadership through personal conversations with all employees, and this new hire and partner lunch is a significant example of making that commitment a reality, rather than a hollow promise.

LIFE AT CREDERA

We’re “open-sourcing” the Credera culture in a series called Life at Credera. We are sharing an authentic perspective on what we are learning and where we are growing. We are talking about friendships and fungrowth, higher purpose, talent and character, leadership, and communication.

We hope this series is a helpful resource on the continuous pursuit of a great culture. And we hope the results are encouraging to our company, employees, clients, and friends.

Looking for more? Check out these great Life at Credera perspectives: