Seven Lessons for Leadership and Life from Sports Disruptor La Sooz
It’s been a few weeks since Team Somos attended the 2019 Simmons Leadership Conference and one speaker that still remains on the mind is the hilarious, bright and charismatic Susan O’Malley – AKA La Sooz. As the first female president of a professional sports franchise, Susan leveraged the lessons she learned at home growing up to cultivate a whole new culture at the Washington Bullets (now the Wizards). As a company deeply rooted in culture, her words were an important reminder of the little things we can do on a day to day basis to differentiate ourselves.
Here are her Seven Lessons for Leadership and Life:
1. Make your bed everyday
Get up and make things happen! According to Susan, "Motion creates motion. Get up, make things happen. If you can’t get the small things right, how are you going to get the big things right? If you’ve had an awful, terrible day, you should come home to a made bed."
2. Always work on your craft
"When I first took over for the Washington Wizards, we were last in everything, so I figured out who was first in everything." Susan stressed that to be truly great at what you do, you need to not take things for granted – always put in a full effort and continuously work at what you do. This is especially important to Somos as we work diligently to broaden the positioning of Toll-Free Numbers (TFNs) from simple phone numbers to unique sales and marketing tools built to do everything from improve customer satisfaction to increase profits.
3. Set expectations
Susan used a story about a former intern to illustrate how when you are in charge, you need to clearly communicate. When an intern was found cheering for an opposing team, Susan immediately chided him and let him go from the program. The intern apologized and admitted that no one ever told him he had to cheer for the Wizards. "I had not set expectations, Susan noticed in herself. “You always assume people know what you want, and they don't. You have to be clear in your message as a leader."
4. When you mess up, make it right
People understand that you’ll mess up – they want to know how far you’ll go to make it right. For better or worse, we all make mistakes. What’s important is that we admit to it and do what we can to fix it. As simple as it sounds, as Susan noted, it can be a lot harder than it may seem for people and companies. Remember to remain humble, empathetic and authentic – your customer will appreciate it!
5. Do the right thing (even when nobody’s looking)
A positive attitude is contagious and can help create a culture that is truly customer obsessed. We should always strive to do what’s right – not because someone is watching, but because it’s the right thing to do. There’s no greater feedback than from your current customer, so what can we do to ensure that we are doing everything we can to empower more intimate and trusted interconnections between brands, consumers and communities?
6. Have fun
It’s been shown time and time again that Happy people = More productive people. One thing that Susan did with the Washington Wizards when they were losing their spirit was to “practice having fun.” When we stop having fun, we can lose the joy of our co-workers, our culture and more. Whether it’s hosting an annual employee retreat, implementing programs that award employee accomplishments or simply gathering for lunch as a team, Susan explored the different things we can do to trigger a team’s desire to have fun together.
7. People make the difference
We are all competitors – it’s up to us to decide if we’re going to go out there and win. When we push and inspire each other, we help build a rich culture that is people-based.
When it comes to cultural change – such as the shifts spearheaded by Susan O’Malley – it takes, vision, leadership and a strategic minded commitment to developing a company’s greatest asset – its people. Somos is excited to have recently hired Deborah Thomas as Senior Vice President and Chief People Officer. Deborah will be instrumental in ensuring that from having fun to setting expectations and more, Team Somos is always doing the right thing and making a difference.