Make Helping Others A Mission
When I first became a CEO, I realized that there are many misconceptions about the true power of the office. Many people think a CEO is aware of everyone that comes and goes, has a direct hand and voice in every employee dismissal or hire, and that you have a lot more power than you probably do. After all, if you run an organization of any size, you cannot be involved in every decision. Plus, if you second guessed other decisions, you wouldn’t empower and allow people to lead.
“We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery, we need humanity.” -Charlie Chaplin
Now that I’ve disclosed that, I will share a story. I happened to hear that one of our exceptional employees was leaving. That happens all the time for a variety of reasons. It’s a regular part of any organization. People leave for other opportunities. They move to other areas of the country. They retire. They change careers. But in this case, I heard that he was leaving because he needed a break “to take care of some things.”
That struck me as a potential problem. Though it would take time and we would lose some time, we could always fill the position. But I was concerned about him because “taking a break” can be hard to bounce back from. Approaching him, I asked him if he’d be OK sharing some of the details of his situation and he did; enough to let me know that, yes, a short break was appropriate. But it wasn’t something that would be covered by regular sick time, vacation or disability leave. He’d assumed that his only option was to quit and hopefully find something else afterward.
Leadership Tip: Treat your employees as people not “workers.” If not, they will leave you.
I asked him to wait a couple days to see if we could work something out. We figured out an option that would give him the time he needed and let him come back stronger and in a better frame of mind. He was grateful for the flexibility, of course, and probably worked harder and was a better employee because of it.
But more importantly—his life was immeasurably improved by a simple gesture of kindness from his employer. How hard is that, really? To consider that we are, all of us, people. That holds true for us, as “the boss,” too. We need to know that we can be fallible and ask for help. And we need to give people room to have families, interests, emotions, and spirit.
“To bring out people’s best, you have to understand what people are going through on a personal level.” -Jennifer Collins
You can’t be a boss of employees. Or workers. Or headcount. Or human capital. There’s no such thing. There are only people. People with feelings and emotions and important issues outside the office that will impact their work. You lead people because you love leading people. Otherwise, you are only a manager with a title, not a servant leader leading with others in mind.
Caring about others is a crucial quality of servant leadership.
Servant leaders recognize that the best leaders respect, trust and care for the whole person.
Listen to this version of the Aim Higher podcast for some good tips on how to do just that, while still respecting some important boundaries.
or click here to listen on iTunes.
“Too many companies believe people are interchangeable. Truly gifted people never are…Effective leaders allow great people to do the work they were born to do.” -Warren Bennis
“You cannot hope to build a better world without improving the individuals.” -Marie Curie
“As a leader, be a coworker and a coach, but not counsellor. Be empathetic and sympathetic. But if it requires counseling, go to legal or HR and get professional guidance.” -Tammi Spayde
“To get a conversation started, I’ll often invite people to open up their phones and show me one picture that would surprise me.” -Skip Prichard