Here is a simple and true statement on leadership. Leadership doesn’t take – it provides.
I was recently privy to a meeting where the director of a business told a gathering of the employees, “Here’s what we need from you…”. Then he talked about how great the company was, their successful recovery from the economic downturn, and about how well they were positioned for the coming years. In the end, it was all about how the individuals could contribute to make the momentum continue.
It was quite evident to many, the whole message was about how the employees could keep on giving. And, about finding creative ways for them to give even more. Repeatedly, the message was here’s what you can do for us; which were his words.
As I observed, from the outside, I could see many people bored with what was happening. People were getting increasingly concerned that the main theme was about what they could give and/or give up for the good of the company. The only reciprocal action from ‘the company’, was that by giving more they, the employees, could keep their jobs.
Afterwards, I talked to a few people just to get their reactions. They were very aware of the message. The attitude of the leadership was clear to everyone: “You’re lucky to have us leading you, so show your gratitude and here’s what we need you to do.” It doesn’t work.
This large company – large as it is – has serious problems. People only work there for the money. If another opportunity came along with similar compensation, those employees would jump and jump quickly. After a little investigation, I found the turnover rate was incredible. That was one of the issues they were hoping to address in the director’s presentation. Leadership needed to let people know how lucky they were to be employed. Leadership expected them to show their appreciation through greater job performance. It doesn’t work.
If I were going to invest in a company, it wouldn’t be this one. I need to check my investments and make sure my adviser hasn’t put any of my money in their stock.
I had a supervisor interview me for a promotion. After asking me many questions about my experiences, my qualifications and my work ethic; he spent a fair amount of time telling me what he would do for me as my supervisor. He was concerned about me and how he could help my career, not just what I could do for him and the quality control department. At the close of the interview, I wanted the job. In other words, I wanted to work for him. He taught me an invaluable lesson that many need to learn. Leaders don’t take, they provide. (Thanks Harold Koerper you were a great influence.)
Points to Ponder –
Do you see leadership as an ends to a means for yourself or as the opportunity to provide something for others?
Honestly ask yourself, “Do I see leadership as the opportunity to be served or to serve?” (There are lots of available materials for study about this valid and timely issue)