Being a leader today isn’t what it was 20 years ago. Employees -- millennials in particular -- want more than a paycheck and benefits; they want a mission. They need to understand the larger vision and how their day to day efforts feed into the ultimate goal or purpose of the company. At Zillow Group, we have a unifying mission: Build the world’s largest, most trusted and vibrant home-related marketplace. This mission is our foundation and I can’t be an effective leader without it because it’s our rallying cry, our common language. All leaders need a mission to inspire their teams and drive people to stay motivated and work together to accomplish great things.
But missions can’t just be put on a poster in the lunchroom. Missions need to be communicated often, encompass every initiative and be incorporated into game plans -- which also need to be communicated over and over and over again. This is another defining trait of a good leader. I use company meetings, emails, media interviews, social media and more to further a set of key messages for employees. If you look closely across channels, you’ll notice I repeat myself a lot. There’s a reason for that: People are busy, and most of the time you’re only getting a fraction of their attention. Good leaders know how to say the same thing 10 different ways, in 10 different settings and through 10 different channels.
You’ll find across companies that sometimes the smartest people are the worst leaders. They believe that if they say something once, employees understand and retain that information and know how to proceed. When things don’t go as planned, they’re frustrated that they have to reiterate the game plan. Good leaders understand why repetition isn’t a tedious exercise.
Beyond communication, I think the most important practice of a good leader -- and the strategy I believe most influences my position on Glassdoor’s Highest Ranked CEOs list -- is Servant Leadership. I hate the word “boss” -- it’s a verb and it means to tell someone what to do. That’s not the job of a leader. If you’ve attracted great people to your company and done your job communicating mission and strategy, then your employees already know what to do. They just need roadblocks cleared; they need to be empowered to do their best work. As a leader, time with your employees should be spent asking what you can do to help them, not the other way around. I think that’s what is so powerful about Glassdoor -- in a company of 2,500 people, I can get feedback and assignments of how to help employees from every department and at every level. That helps me be a better leader and equip Zillow Group employees with the paths, resources and opportunities they need to thrive at our company.
That is why I’m humbled to be among Glassdoor’s highest rated CEOs this year. There are a lot of lists within the business sector ranking talent and influence, and I’ve been fortunate to be part of a few in my career. Making Glassdoor’s list, though, tops every recognition because it comes from Zillow Group employees -- the people I work for. As an organization, we’ve earned this award together by listening to one another.