Leadership is about People-First NOT Profit
Leadership is about people-first. Business is about the products, process, paycheck and profit. Isn’t it time leadership understands this? Then employee disengagement and distrust would erode. Aren’t you weary of the steady stream of leadership nonsense you hear from politics, Washington, or the corporate office? I am also dismayed about the never-ending stories of leaders falling from grace because of the lack of integrity. These leaders focus on their selfish wants and needs and not people-first.
Leadership derailment studies show that 82% of managers fail. So, of the world’s approximately 500 million managers or supervisors, employees are bearing the brunt of this incompetence daily. While these failures are not as conspicuous as celebrity leaders, the pain they cause employees is of epidemic proportions. Unfortunately, daily they are harmful to as many people as Covid19. If you have had or do have a bad boss, you know what I am talking about.
Leadership is about people-first, not profits or your personal paycheck. But we all know that for so many leaders, it is about the money. Greed, self-interest, and selfishness seem to reign. Today, leaders in business, government and religion seem to be more concerned about the cash than the people they serve. CEOs in the US, for example, earn 324 times more that of an average worker. CEO pay has risen over 1460% since 1978 compared to 18.1% for employees.
No wonder, worldwide, customer service levels show trivial improvement, employee engagement is poor, and growth rates are stagnant. Employees aren’t committed to giving their all to companies that give way too much to the leaders. I believe employees are the most valuable not valued part of a company. Yet, companies spend nearly 29 times more money on technology than on employee training. People are useable commodity products, not crucial business partners to most leaders.
Last week, in an executive coaching update meeting, the CEO and owner of the company said, “What’s with this leadership fiasco? I am worried about the country. It cost over $200 million dollars for our gubernatorial race, for heaven’s sake! Money talks. The gap between leaders and the people is way out of line.” This man is wealthy, but he is concerned. So, am I… aren’t you?
What can you do as an employee?
Do not accept stupid and greedy leadership. Invest in and prepare yourself. Most companies’ loyalty to employees goes only as far has the health of the next quarterly report. Companies are already feeling the lack of qualified people. Employees with updated skills and talents are beginning to rule the marketplace. Be one of them. Be choosey in who you work for, both in the company and boss (see my posts, Get the Job You Want with This Little Known Technique, and 6 Proven Ways to Deal with a Bad Boss) Also, check out Liz Ryan for more advice. Be aggressive in what I am describing here. It is your career, income, and livelihood at stake.
What can companies do to focus on people-first?
All organizations go through change processes. Spending on training is up but do not fool yourself. There are serious gaps in employee capabilities and available talent. The uptick in investment is a necessity only grudingly acted on. Companies on FORTUNE ‘s 100 Best Companies to Work For list invest in people in a variety of ways and achieve exemplary results. Closely related is their passion for a superior customer experience. Other organizations need to pay attention to this.
Organizations need to uphold people-first values and servant leadership training for managers, and then provide the coaching to make it stick. HR needs to back off the cop-compliance mode and become performance-based consultants. Companies need to teach that everyone can be a leader and forget the concept that exults executives as superheroes, here to “save the day!”. Every employee is important and makes a difference. If employees are bought-in, treated with respect, and paid well, they will perform above and beyond.
How can a leader put people-first?
Hustle! I have seen too many managers become lazy and complacent. Do not get me wrong–I love managers, and I spend most of my time working with or coaching them. Yet many today let the numbers, data, reports and the latest technology tools lead their leadership. As a result, they neglect employees. Many are sucked into appearing to look good to get the next promotion, bonus or pay increase. In addition, company cultures often are ruthless. If you do not play along you get run over. It is not easy but it can be done. For example, for ten years as VP of CX and Training, I worked in a company that drove harder for profit than anyone. We made serious money. However, we also significantly improved our EX/culture, CX and profits–all three are inter-related. Why did this happen? The President had an epiphany that the market changed, and he needed the company to change for the better. So, he allowed change to happpen, sometimes grudgingly. We had our battles but ended up leading our market and achieving record breaking results for EX, CX and profit.
A leader’s success always depends on his or her team–period. Help your employees succeed and you will succeed. You need a team to achieve your dream. How do you help them more? Learn the emotional intelligence skills taught by Daniel Goleman. Be a student of the game! Get 50-70 hours of leadership training a year yourself. If your company does not pay for it, pay for it yourself. Get a coach or mentor. Become a coaching master. Keep learning about people and what motivates or, better still, inspires them to be their best.
In conclusion, aim to become an exceptional servant leader. This means a leader that focuses on people-first, and that others talk about in a positive way. Guess what? The money will come and so will the profits and promotions. I heard dynamic consultant Don Beveridge declare, “Never evaluate your success as a leader by the size of your paycheck.”
Why not join us on LinkedIn for the Servant Leadership revolution that is taking place about the power of people? Go here: ServantLeadership@RickConlow International. THANK YOU!
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Finally, see Rick’s newest book. The 5 Dynamics of Servant Leadership: How to accelerate your career and inspire your team! See his newest self-directed leadership training: 21 Servant Leadership Training Lessons.