Leaders need to be real. Of course, leaders should set clear business goals, find the best people to get the job done and reflect upon what worked, what didn’t and how to be better next time. But while those technical aspects of corporate management are important, it’s even more so that leaders are truly human. Here’s what I mean by that.
A good leader needs to be relatable to the people they lead, and they can do so only by being open and vulnerable with their thoughts and feelings. This lesson took me years to learn, but when I did, my point of view completely opened up to new ideas that ultimately made me a better leader than I ever would’ve imagined.
Today, I share with you two lessons on this topic that strengthened my ability to lead and can strengthen yours, too.
The Reason You Should Value Everyone: Everyone Has Value – No Matter What
A few years ago, I got to hear Bob Chapman, Chairman and CEO of Barry-Wehmiller (BW), and award-winning author Raj Sisodia tell a powerful story about this topic.
In the late ’90s, Bob pioneered a never-before-seen approach to leadership that created off-the-charts morale, loyalty, creativity and performance. The company rejected the idea that employees are simply functions – “managed” with carrots and sticks, and/or discarded at will. Instead, under the lens of Bob’s new approach, every single person on staff mattered. Everyone – no matter who you were – just like in a family. It was and still is the bedrock of the company’s success.
In 2015, the two published Everybody Matters, a book on how “truly human” leadership has proven to foster staggering morale, loyalty, and creativity. As Bob stated:
“Everyone wants to do better. Trust them. Leaders are everywhere. Find them. People achieve good things, big and small, every day. Celebrate them. Some people wish things were different. Listen to them. Everybody matters. Show them.”
Commenting on Bob and Raj’s book, Kip Tindell, chairman and CEO of The Container Store, wrote:
“Through Everybody Matters, Bob and Raj beautifully illustrate the important intersection of business and the true essence of the human spirit. Barry-Wehmiller and its leaders recognize the massive role that work plays in determining people’s self-worth. They understand and embrace that people want to go to work and feel valued, they want to work alongside other caring people and feel great about what they’ve accomplished. When they feel better about themselves, they go home and treat their families, their friends and their communities better.”
Only leaders who practice emotional and psychological openness can make this happen. Modern leadership practices and training lack even the most basic humanity. But when you showcase your humanity and actually value your people, you find a direct path to sustained growth for your company.
Ultimately, authentic openness should be taken to heart by business leaders everywhere. And it all starts with this fundamental principle:
The people doing the work are the ones who make the difference – not the managers.
Truly Effective Leaders Exemplify Humility and Intelligence
I heard business management writer, Pat Lencioni, speak on this subject. In his book, The Ideal Team Player, Pat states three virtues every leader must master to succeed – the first and most important virtue of which is humility. It’s as simple as:
- Be polite
- Learn how to compliment without hesitation
- Ask your colleagues how they feel
- Easily admit your mistakes
A humble employee is more concerned with the team’s success rather than credit for themselves. This often includes taking on lower-level work for the good of the team. This person can honestly acknowledge their skills, but they don’t do it in a boastful way. They gladly share credit, and they offer and accept apologies graciously. People who lack humility, the ones who demand a disproportionate amount of attention, are hazardous for a team.
The second of Pat’s virtues, smart, isn’t about intelligence – it’s about being wise in your interactions with people. These people are highly intuitive of group dynamics and the power of their words and actions. They tend to know what is happening in a group situation, which means they can effectively work with others. Most importantly, they demonstrate an interest in the lives of their employees.
If you would like to grow your emotional intelligence, I recommend starting with the following books:
The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz
- The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer
- The Power of Intention by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer
- The Surrender Experiment by Michael Singer
- Ask and It Is Given by Esther and Jerry Hicks
- Broken Open by Elizabeth Lesser
Bottom line: I hope you become more human with your employees. It takes time to become emotionally open, but once you do, I’m confident you will see an uptick in engagement, culture and performance.
Lastly, who doesn’t want to be a better, more empathetic human being? I do, and I hope you do, too.
Commentary by Rob Lynch. Here’s what you’ve missed?
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