Every decision made by a leader is important, even those that might seem irrelevant at first glance. That’s because it’s often extremely hard to imagine what the outcome is going to be, and work out what effects the choices are going to have on the employees. Pierre Calais, CEO & President of Stormshield, says that one of the main things you need to do as a leader is to make decisions. He points out;the butterfly effect is something you always need to keep in mind. Though, Pierre believes it is not an easy task, as there is always the question of existence of a categorically right or wrong decision. To Pierre, the worst thing is not deciding, and always putting things off until tomorrow.
In an organization to keep the employees motivated, the team leader should share as much information as they can, about the paths the company is taking and the overall strategies that drive their decisions. Pierre does just that, and more. He tries to get them involved with everything he does, and show them they are a part of an ambitious and extraordinary project. He also tries to get them to feel proud, even when being far from their goal.
A Team Player
Pierre thinks the most important thing is to believe in what you’re doing. Pierre doesn’t have a personal ambition. He has a group ambition, because he believes “even though we all have personal ambition, we can’t achieve it at the expense of others.” He sees himself as a manager who is a team player, who tries to build team spirit, to ensure that the team feels invested in their work, and that they have an impact on how the company is developing. He believes that nobody can do it alone; success is always a team effort.
Empathy towards listening to people
The pivotal moment in Pierre’s career was when he first took on the responsibility of managing a team. That’s when he found out how much he loved motivating people and getting them involved in projects. Pierre realized that what he enjoy most was managing people. Though, Pierre very humbly says, “I’m not the perfect manager, but just that I love my job and I’m always looking for ways of doing it better.” What 25 years of experience taught him is that, to be a positive leader you really need to listen and empathize, or you might just end up being a negative leader or worse a dictator.
Following this mantra to grow, Pierre tries to listen as much as possible and continue to learn thanks to a few very experienced and talented people who are surrounding him, and providing him with the necessary coaching.
Well Structured Management
Pierre says, “In our business, we need to be flexible, responsive, and firmly focused on our customers.” And at Stormshield, the management is structured around these goals. They have very few layers of management, and a very interactive, horizontal way of working. Each employee is given various objectives, so they make suggestions and take part in the decision-making process. They even include their clients in this ecosystem, through workshops and think-tanks. This approach allows the company to develop and move forward.
Pierre’s thoughts on being a Good Leader
A leader is a visionary more than anything else. And that visionary must be able to build the most effective, motivated team that can perform to the best of its ability to achieve what it set out to do. A company’s success doesn’t depend on one manager, it depends on the whole team. Leaders all over the world are now facing bigger and bigger challenges. Young generations are no longer satisfied with simply following a leader, they need to trust the leader, find meaning, and understand where they are going. Talent is rare in the IT industry, so people can choose which company they’d like to join. The upshot of that is people no longer work for a company because they have to, but because the company has a vision, a project, and a management style they admire. Interest in a company is based on its objectives, but also how it sees the role of each employee. That’s why the human aspect and having a vision are key to being a good leader in the world today.
A Friend as a Mentor
Pierre recollects a certain good friend, who himself is an entrepreneur, as the person he considers to be his role model. “He taught me that it is important to stand up for what you believe in, and to base your decisions on what you think is right, not only on what will benefit you,” says Pierre. He taught him how to change focus when you realize you are wrong, but not to compromise on your own convictions, even if the outcome comes out negative. Standing up for what is right is very important to Pierre, especially today, when propriety and convictions are words that sometimes mean very little.
Being ready to face the Real Challenge
For people taking up leadership roles, Pierre advices not to be too optimistic, because that’s how real problems begins. When people are first given a leading role, they think they deserve it simply because they were appointed to the position. That’s a huge mistake! The biggest challenges are yet to come. The most difficult thing is to prove that you are capable of leading a team. That means showing humility and listening to people. As a leader you should always strive to do your very best! It also means that you never stop questioning what you do.
An interview published on Insights Success, on February 2017.