In keeping with our innovation and growth theme, we want to talk again about General Motors new CEO, Mary Barra. On Monday, Ms. Barra was featured on Good Morning America and said something that is worthy of sharing.

During the interview she was asked “did you think that you would ever be CEO”? She said while she may have had clear goals and objectives for her career, she never focused on that. Her main objective was to always perform at her best, and deliver the greatest results for each position she held.

She focused on building a team and organization that delivered outstanding results. In order to achieve outstanding results, you must have processes and a clear focus, you can’t be risk adverse, and you must have the willingness to take the necessary steps to create a strong team and promote change.

Many leaders confuse career aspirations with a goal, and lose site of the results they have to deliver now. Ms. Barra said that she found too many leaders focusing on “what is my next job?”, rather than establishing the elements and providing the results that make it obvious that new challenges are welcomed and will be managed.

We are not suggesting that you do not have career aspirations and dreams because that is very important. What we are saying is to not primarily focus on pursuing the next level, as it detracts from being “present,” and may actually derail you from attaining desired results.

Too often we see leaders spending insufficient time building strengths within their team and organization. This development is required for innovation and growth, and ultimately success.

Change the world; rethink outdated assumptions and make a real difference…
–M. Barra

How to Promote Innovation and Growth

Start by building a strong team through these key steps.

  1. Recruiting Process. What skills abilities and talents do you need, and do you have a clear hiring process that links to your vision, mission and goals.
  2. Build trust within team members and encourage engaging interactions. Do team members feel comfortable giving and receiving feedback? Do they address conflict in a healthy honoring respectful manner?
  3. Include accountability, engagement, feedback and fun in team development processes.
  4. Operational Process and tools. Invest in saving time, and improving quality.
  5. Observe your customer and identify ideas for improvement. Ex: delivery, availability, reduce time to market, and enhance the value of your products and services
  6. Create a team focus. Down-play the need for individual gains and reward accordingly.
  7. Link your rewards and performance appraisal system to innovation and growth.  Does everyone’s IDP link to their specific needs to innovate and grow, or just to maintain the status quo?
  8. Training/Development/Coaching. Set up a process linking development to effectiveness for individuals, teams and organizations. Do you proactively invest in yourself and others to be strong leaders, or do you wait until someone tells you what to learn?

We, as leaders, are accountable for influencing others. It is up to us to link the tools, processes and resources with the vision of our organization.

Take some time and review the key components listed above. Are they part of your 2014 plan? Are any changes required?

If your focus includes innovation and growth, you’re positioning yourself for recognition and future promotions – maybe even to the position of CEO, like Mary!