Should leaders focus more on value or volume? Quantity or quality? According to former Newmont Mining CEO Gary Goldberg, the answer is value.
Gary Goldberg led Newmont Mining’s 28,000 employees for seven years before stepping down in 2020. During his tenure, he turned the company’s performance around by focusing on value over volume. Instead of mining as much gold as possible, Gary led Newmont to mine the most valuable gold. The same principle applies to leadership. By focusing on delivering value for their organizations instead of focusing merely on volume or profits, leaders can create long-term success for their companies and employees.
Leaders are responsible for not only adding value to their organizations, but also for creating organizations that provide value to employees, customers, and stakeholders. In order to do that, leaders must focus their skills and mindsets in certain areas.
Employee Engagement and Relationships
Focusing on value means prioritizing and investing in employees, who are the most valuable part of an organization. As Gary told me, business success is linked closely to employee engagement. Creating a strong, engaged culture helps leaders bring in and retain the best talent and grow their organizations.
Employee engagement is about more than just offering flashy perks like free food and a fun campus. It’s about creating an environment where employees want to come to work, can see the impact of their work, and are empowered with the tools they need to get their job done. Leaders set the tone for employee engagement by looking for ways to add value to employees’ lives, both at work and at home.
Gary regularly has lunch with small groups of employees to ask them one main question: What have you done to add value for Newmont this morning?
He told me this: “I get some really neat answers and learn a lot about what’s going on in the business, but it’s that personal contact where they get to see that you’re a human being and you listen to what’s important to them that really helps to build trust.”
When employees trust their leaders and feel seen and valued by them, they naturally become more engaged at work. Focusing on individual relationships adds value to each employee and encourages them to do their best to help the goals of the company.
Innovation and Adaptability
To be able to create and provide value for a company, leaders must also be able to evolve and innovate. In the rapidly changing world of work, the most successful leaders and companies are the ones that can adapt. Gary believes it’s not the strongest or the smartest that survive, but the ones who are most adaptable to change.
“Future leaders must be adaptable in order to understand trends that increasingly impact how people choose to invest their time and their money. This includes everything from robotics to climate change,” Gary said.
Adaptability is especially important when putting together effective teams as the workforce changes. Leaders must be able to change course quickly and put people in the right roles to move the company towards success. Leaders need to be adaptable to lead a workforce of blended generations.
To build adaptability, leaders must pay attention to their employees and the world around them. They must have an ear to the ground of what is happening in their industry and with their competition, as well as to the world at large. Being adaptable comes down to understanding trends and people and being willing to evolve.
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Communication and Listening
Gary views one of the biggest roles of a leader as articulating a winning strategy to the entire team. A leader must have a clear vision of where the company can go and then communicate that clearly to employees and motivate them to move in that direction.
But articulating a winning strategy is often easier said than done. Gary believes that as the workforce gets more diverse, leaders will need to be able to articulate that strategy to a broader range of people. To do so effectively, leaders must understand the unique needs and motivation of each employee to communicate in a way that resonates with them.
“It’s not enough to have a title—leaders need to live their vision and values, encourage people to speak up, and listen to what they say,” he said.
For leaders, communication is about listening as much as it is about speaking. Leaders must have strong listening skills and an open mind to get feedback and gain perspectives from others. Gary likes to triangulate and hear from multiple people before he makes a well-informed decision.
Gary’s focus on value over volume helped turn Newmont Mining around and re-establish it as an industry leader. Leaders create value in their organizations when they are willing to build relationships, communicate, and stay agile.
Gary sums it up nicely with his motto: respect the past, invent the future, and enjoy the journey. Great leaders look at where they’ve come from and respect where the company has been, but they are willing to push towards the future and find joy in the journey.
How To Become A Value-Focused Leader
- Build relationships with employees and learn their unique motivations and perspectives. Find a way to connect with employees on a regular basis.
- Apply employee feedback to empower them with tools and training to best do their jobs.
- Stay connected with industry and customer trends with an eye to the horizon. Be willing to adapt and change with new technology and trends.
- Practice communication skills to reach a diverse workforce. Understands the needs of each group.
- Listen to multiple points of view before making an informed decision.
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