13:24 PM

The Four Ps of Leadership: Part I

By Kirt Walker, Chief Executive Officer

Since becoming CEO, I’m frequently asked the question, “What is your leadership style?”

My leadership vision is built around four simple words: People, Planning, Performance and Partnerships, or, as I call them, the Four Ps.

The Four Ps are what guide my actions and decisions as a leader. Keeping these four concepts in mind helps me stay focused on serving our members, achieving strategic goals, and carrying out the Nationwide mission – to protect people, businesses and futures with extraordinary care.

Through two LinkedIn articles, I’ll break down each component of the Four Ps and discuss its significance towards my overall approach to leadership, as well as how it’s reflected in our work at Nationwide. In this article, I’ll focus on the first two of the Four Ps of Leadership – People and Planning.

The first of the Four Ps is people. Without people, nothing can be accomplished.

I learned at a young age to be deliberate about how and with whom I spend time. The more knowledgeable and positive people we surround ourselves with, the better positioned we are for success. For example, I really enjoy playing golf, but it’s not one of my towering strengths. If I play in a game with really good golfers, I’m often at the top of my game. When we surround ourselves with strong people, we become stronger, too.

This emphasis on people is both a personal and company-wide value, as Nationwide’s first core value is “We value people.” One of our top priorities is to consistently attract, develop, engage and promote the best people with diverse backgrounds, experience and skills. One of our competitive advantages comes from understanding our members’ needs and delivering solutions through effortless experiences to meet those needs. This requires innovation, fresh ideas and unique perspectives – one of the many reasons we embrace a diversity of opinions and experiences among our associates (how we refer to employees at Nationwide) and why we need to hear from everyone.

Additionally, coaching and feedback are vital when it comes to personal development and developing others. Seek out managers, leaders and mentors that you trust will tell you what you need to hear, as opposed to what you want to hear. I like to refer to this group as my “personal board of directors.” With a personal B.O.D. in your corner, you’ll always have someone there to keep you honest and on track to hit your goals.

The second of the Four Ps is planning. Planning tells us where to focus our time, energy and resources strategically to achieve our goals.

Working as a single, unified team to define the goals of the company and deliver on strategy is crucial to long-term performance. Each business area should have goals and objectives connected to those of the entire enterprise. The performance goals of associates in entry-level positions should align with those of the company’s CEO.

At Nationwide, for example, we offer a vast set of resources to help us plan all aspects of our work. Collaboration is essential. You can’t plan well if you’re working alone. I guarantee that neither associates nor leaders (at any company) can think of every risk, situation, option or idea on their own. Working together to leverage the experience, skills and knowledge of your leaders and peers will always result in the best work.

A final fact about plans: things change. That’s why it’s important to commit to being nimble and action-oriented. Planning for change and building in contingencies is key.



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