Most leaders of companies talk up the need for transparency but then go behind closed doors to map out the company’s direction.
For Eric Johnson, Chief Executive of workflow automation software as a service company Nintex, he not only values transparency but practices what he preaches when it comes to running the company. “Everyone appreciates transparency to know how things are really going – we’re doing well, we need improvement, or these things are broken and here’s how we will fix them… together,” said Johnson during a recent question and answer session. “As the CEO of Nintex, People matter.”
That’s a refreshing reminder coming from a leader in an environment that is getting increasingly polarizing and tribal. With Americans retreating to their bubbles, many are forgetting that all people, not just the ones they share common interests and goals with, matter and matter a lot. After all the more Nintex is able to show respect and loyalty to its employee base the more productivity it will undoubtedly get out of its team. “Every employee is a team member that is a contributor that should be respected,” said Johnson. “When people care more, they give more. It’s that simple. If you care about the work you are doing, you go the extra mile. This creates a community of high-performers, and it starts with our front-line managers.”
Johnson’s belief in transparency and people dates back to his upbringing in which he was taught at an early age to treat others how you want to be treated. An athlete in high school and college, Johnson also learned discipline as a member of The Reserve Officers' Training Corps or ROTC. Sports and military training helped him form a strong foundation of discipline while good luck with leaders and mentors helped him hone his management style which has proven successful for the Nintex CEO. He also has a voracious appetite to learn more from business and community leaders he respects. “Every day I try to emulate these experiences and learnings to support my servant leadership style. I believe the best relationships made in life can be made through the people you work with,” said Johnson. “When you work with great people and form strong bonds of trust, work can be really fun. You also can ride the waves together during challenging times and come out better because of it.”
It hasn’t always been smooth sailing for the executive, who was previously CFO at the automation SaaS company, although his biggest professional challenge so far came about five years into his finance career. The company he worked for was acquired and Johnson went from a first level manager with two direct reports to a second level senior finance leader in charge of thirty people. It came during the height of Sarbanes-Oxley when companies were scrambling to become compliant with new regulations put in place after the Great Recession. “To say the least, it was a very challenging time for our organization. We were honestly on a path to fail. But myself and others worked non-stop and achieved what we needed,” he said. “Thanks to our hard work the company achieved SOX compliance, we received a lot of recognition including myself being named as an employee of the year. This experience furthered my belief that anything is possible when you are willing to have a high degree of persistence, dedication and sacrifice to achieving a goal.”