09:00 AM

The Four Ps of Leadership: Part II

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.

In my previous article, “The Four Ps of Leadership: Part I,” I discussed People and Planning. This article will focus on the remaining two Ps of leadership – Performance and Partnerships.

The third of the Four Ps is performance. Performance is about putting our plans into action – focusing on doing the right things well, measuring the results, sharing our progress and adjusting our plans to ensure future success.

Performance starts with understanding expectations and priorities. Gaining clarity about the work we do comes from open, honest conversations among teams and leaders. I believe it’s essential to develop a culture where it’s always okay to raise your hand and say, “I have a question,” or “I’m not sure what’s expected of me.”

Leaders are expected to provide clear, well-thought-through direction, then empower their teams to determine how to do the work. It’s up to associates to make well-considered decisions, produce the results and find the best way to succeed. Associates should collaborate with their leader on decisions that have a profound impact, positive or negative, on their plans. When guidance is needed, involving leaders early is better because it often is harder to help later.

Strong performance also requires a relentless execution of the obvious – making sure the basic fundamentals of any project are handled to near perfection before taking on its more challenging components.

At Nationwide, we measure our performance internally based on financial, operational and member/partner goals. We measure externally through industry rankings and research, but also in the context of companies outside our industry. From A to Z (Amazon to Zappos), we understand that customers develop expectations based on their interactions with many brands each day. The experiences, products and services we offer must meet and exceed those expectations.

I measure performance in my personal life, too. Did I exercise enough this week? Did I take enough time to mentally recharge? Have I reached out to friends who, after the pandemic hit, I promised to connect with at least once a month? Monitoring performance outside of work helps me maintain a healthy work/life balance.

The fourth and final component of the Four Ps is partnerships. Partnership, collaboration and working as one team will fuel a company’s success.

Associates are in many ways the face of the company. All competition should exist outside company walls, as collective success depends on the ability to work as a single team, trusting each other and being accountable. Associates working for the same company share the same strategic goals and succeed or fail in meeting those goals together.

Strategic partnerships built on a deep commitment to adding value and serving others also fuel success. Long-standing relationships must certainly be valued; it’s also important to continue building new partnerships as the industry landscape and consumer mindsets shift.

At Nationwide, our outreach, advocacy efforts and relationships with public officials and trade associations help us protect and serve the best interest of our members. Partnerships with philanthropic organizations such as the United Way, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, the American Red Cross and Feeding America help us make a significant difference in the communities where we live and work.

I value such partnerships on a personal level as well – and believe we all have a responsibility to help others in our community. Having grown up on a farm, I understand the importance of food, as well as its scarcity in certain communities, so volunteering with the Mid-Ohio Foodbank is one way I give back.

Keeping the Four Ps in mind and using them to guide your decisions and actions will help make your strategic goals a reality.