Leaders have many responsibilities – strategic planning, overseeing operations, managing the bottom line, and growing the business. There is one responsibility – arguably the biggest – that underlies every one of these and that is the development of people. Why? It is because these people will carry out that plan, perform the operations, impact the financials, and grow the business.
So when it comes down to it, the main responsibility of a leader really comes down to how they connect and cultivate the people on their team.
And yet, one of the biggest complaints of the average worker is that the leader does not value the people.
How can a leader demonstrate value to his or her followers?
1. Communicate – Wise is the leader who takes the time to get to know as many people in the company as possible. Yes, this means that occasionally you would need to leave your window office and walk to where your people are. It just might be the most important thing you do in a work day. Communication is a two-way street, so as important as it is to speak to your people, it is perhaps even more critical to listen. And beyond that, act on the good advice you inevitably will get.
2. Congratulate – Pay close attention to those who do something well, and give them specific feedback. There are employees who will keep a handwritten note from a boss for a lifetime. This sort of thing has much more impact on employee performance than an annual performance review.
3. Collaborate – Upper management, if not careful, can become a very exclusive group. The danger of this is that they can begin to lose touch with the real issues, ideas become stale in such a limited environment, and they lose the respect of followers. The fact is, there are assistants within many companies who have more of a finger on the pulse of the company than their bosses. As a leader, you should collaborate with experts in all areas of your business. Not only will you learn a great deal, but you will earn something of great value – the trust of your people.
4. Care – A leader is given an opportunity to serve – not to be served, though many view it that way. Do your people know you genuinely care about them or do they just feel “used”? If your people know you care, they will do all they can to help you succeed. If they sense you don’t care, they may do their jobs, but you will never reach the level of success you could have. If you care, they will work with respect for you; if you don’t care, they will work from a point of obligation or fear. The former is much more conducive to the company’s bottom line. Caring for your people really does matter.
So here’s the million dollar question (perhaps literally) – do you as a leader REALLY value your people?