Make Conversation a Priority

What are the differentiating habits of successful leaders and managers? According to the CEO of Hain Celestial Group, the organic food and personal care products company, it is all about communication.  

A philosophy to which he attributes the success of his workforce culture, CEO Irwin Simon takes pride in his “open door” policy. While he’s not a proponent of organization charts, he invests a great deal of his time in face-to-face communication with all levels of employees, and having a key role in interviewing new talent that comes through the door.  


[From the NY Times:]  


As C.E.O., I look at myself not as chief executive officer, but as chief energy officer, chief cheerleader. I’m a big communicator by telephone and by person. I’m not big on writing the whole staff my holiday observations and where we’re going and what’s the strategy. You’re never going to see me do that. I’m just big into communicating face-to-face, eye-to-eye and not through e-mail. Part of what’s happened today is we lose a sense of communication because everything is done electronically.  

Originally reported by the New York Times, here are the top qualities of a successful leader that Simon shares in this week’s Corner Office column:   

  • If you’re confident, let people ask questions, do things, and speak up
  • Tap into the opinions of everyone, from board members to the interns
  • Play to your workers’ strengths and help them build confidence
  • Communicate face to face, eye to eye as often as you can spare 
  • Seize the opportunity to take someone out of their comfort zone and into a new role  

When discussing how he approaches the hiring and recruiting process, he offers this sage advice to HR professionals and other business leaders: “I look for people who can grow, who want to do more. I want to hear about schools, where they live, stuff they want to do because they’ve got fire in their belly. I look for that fire in the belly.”


Read the full New York Times article  

Image: jscreationzs /


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