It’s About the People

If you know me or have read my blog posts or columns, you know that I am no advocate of the entitlement culture. Whether it’s in business, a society, a marketplace, a school or a home, I believe that people should be held accountable for their actions, and that they should earn their way. It’s not just a survival of the fittest mentality—it’s what our country was founded on, and what’s made it great. Hard work and accountability.
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However, for many of us in leadership positions, it’s sometimes easy to forget about the other side of the coin. As presidents, owners and managers, we have a responsibility to our companies to help our people achieve success. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that the single best way to ensure long-term success in business is to enable your people to be successful themselves.

I recently assembled some thoughts on this topic to share with my executives and managers and I’d like to share them with you.

  • Dale Carnegie once said, “It isn’t what you have or who you are, or where you are or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about.” I think what he meant by this was that attitude makes all the difference in performance and attaining goals. Leaders have a responsibility to create cultures that help their people focus on the goals of their organizations and reduce the distractions that take focus away from those goals.
  • Successful leaders should ask themselves, “How can I help someone on my team grow?” Generally, I’ve found there are four needs that, if met to some degree, will help a person realize their potential: help them feel needed; help them feel important; help them recognize they are contributing to something important; and, help them advance professionally and personally.
  • Be quick to praise, and slow to criticize, condemn or complain. And if you must deliver one of “the 3 c’s,” do it in private. Praise delivered without merit isn’t just supporting an entitlement culture, it’s not fair to the team. So it’s very important to dole out feedback as it’s warranted.
  • Lead by example. Show up first. Stay longer, especially when the team stays longer. Exhibit and expect high integrity. Set the pace. These things establish and maintain a positive culture.
  • Talk to people. Do not manage by memo or e-mail.
  • Love your customers. Customers pay our salaries, we work for them. Respect them. Thank them for their business. Care about their business and their success. Instilling this appreciation in a business is the most important goal to focus on as an organization. And it creates the primary shared goal for a team from which all other goals spring.
  • But your business must do more for the customer than love them—it must listen, but it must bring value to them beyond their own expectations. Henry Ford once said, “If I had asked the people what they wanted, they would have said … a faster horse.” Tying a person’s and team’s success to the success of customers isn’t just good business—it ingrains creativity and business growth in an organization.

Clear goals and honesty—with our people, our teams and our customers—help us to sustain our businesses and the people that make them run. Our people are the engines that drive our success. Happy, engaged and successful employees are more motivated, more energized and they serve customers with passion.

Our employees must earn their way in an organization. And as leaders, we must earn their loyalty and respect by giving them the tools to help them—and ourselves—become successful.

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