Our founder, Michael Cardone Sr., famously summed up his leadership philosophy in six memorable words: “The fish stinks from the head.” It’s a great reminder that what you see at the bottom of an organization comes directly from the top. And we cannot expect more from the company than we do from our own leadership.
That’s why we adhere to and live out a leadership practice called Servant Leadership at CARDONE. It’s not a new concept. In fact, this model dates back to biblical times, and it was demonstrated perfectly by Jesus as he led his 12 disciples.
Servant Leadership establishes a strong foundation, through our actions as well as our words, of what it means to support one another as we serve others. And we firmly believe that the only way people can be good leaders is if they are willing to set aside a selfish pursuit of power, ego, and pride for the good of those they serve.
This leadership model creates a culture that makes it possible for CARDONE to best achieve our corporate objectives and goals. It’s easy to see a significant difference between Servant Leadership and the customary traditional leadership model followed in many organizations.
“Our Servant Leadership model is the framework for the leadership behavior that influences our people at all levels in the business. I frequently talk to our leaders about it. And I strive to model it in all my dealings, with employees, customers, suppliers, and, most importantly, my family.”
Just because CARDONE is a company that earns a profit doesn’t mean our success should come at the expense of others. Instead, we lead with humility while producing results that have made us one of the best remanufacturers in the industry. And we do so by ensuring that our leaders exhibit nine uncompromising traits:
To pursue Servant Leadership seriously, a person must commit to practice it diligently and consistently over time. At CARDONE, Servant Leadership requires ongoing effort to experience consistent growth and results. This only happens when our people choose to be the best leaders they can be.
Listening is one of the most difficult skills to develop, especially as a leader. Our ego stands as the biggest obstacle—we would all rather listen to our own voices than patiently and quietly listen to others share their thoughts. Being a good listener is a choice that every Servant Leader makes.
Servant Leaders look at problems and issues as an opportunity to help others grow. And they aren’t afraid of developing other people, knowing that some of those same people may rise above them in the organization. Servant Leaders embrace their responsibility to empower others.
At CARDONE, every leader is encouraged to learn how to deal with his or her own attitude and to become an expert in handling both praise and critique. Having a positive attitude means every conflict can be handled in a context of hope and helpfulness.
Honest feedback should travel throughout the organization in all directions, not just from the top down. Servant Leadership is rooted in the concept that honest feedback, when given in the right spirit and attitude, is the best way to develop people and the organization.
Our Servant Leaders are expected to face issues head-on and then work with urgency to resolve the problem. When employees see a leader is willing to escalate an issue to the highest level of the organization until an answer is found, they have greater respect for their leader and are willing to offer their best efforts and creativity in finding a solution quickly and effectively.
Good intentions don’t take a person far in business. Action is what speaks and what solves problems. Our Servant Leadership training stresses leading with resolve in order to act in a way that gets results. Our leadership acts in confidence and has autonomy to make decisions.
Servant Leadership is not weak or indecisive. Instead it’s leading with trust rather than intimidation. Seeking to influence rather than rule. It means leading people and focusing on the greater good of others, the entire team, and the business, rather than seeking selfish gain. Most of all, Servant Leaders act with humility.
For Servant Leadership to work, there cannot be a gap between what is said and what is done. We carefully select individuals who have a special calling to inspire the people in their areas of influence and help them understand how important and valuable they are to CARDONE. Our employees are treated as valuable members of our family. And this starts with visionary leadership.
Take it from Mark, who said, “This is a such a unique and great place to work. We are family-owned by Godly people, our mission is right on, our objectives are noble, we have great values, we help people save money and we are good for the environment. What a wonderful place to work! But it all hinges on leadership communicating this in their words, attitudes, behaviors, and actions.”
“It’s old school with new school tools.”
CARDONE isn’t stuck in neutral. It’s quite the opposite. We are sharply focused on a future that is closer than it appears. For us to be in position to turn the corner on the road to success, we must:
We call these objectives our “Shining C,” and they will steer us over the course of the next five years. With each comes the understanding that CARDONE is more than a company. For us, CARDONE is a way of doing business: a warm smile, a strong handshake, a fierce pride in what we do and how we do it and a relentless commitment to 100 percent customer satisfaction with the healthy desire to always do it better. It’s an old-fashioned approach to business that we’ve been practicing since our founding 45 years ago, and it’s an approach that gets better as we move forward.