By Sandy Geroux, MS
I was recently speaking with a leader who shared some great insights into his leadership style and why his people love working with him, when he suddenly revealed the motherlode of insights with one quick story.
He retired a few years ago from a huge resort property where he had worked for over 30 years. He was a facilities maintenance manager, so his people were in charge of fixing everything that needed attention.
During his tenure there, he would visit the various locations on the property, talk to his people, say hello whenever he saw them individually or in a group, sometimes joke around with them; he also visited them even if he didn’t need anything from them at that time. In other words, he built relationships with them by showing them that he cared about them as people. They responded by doing their jobs exceptionally well, exhibiting extreme pride in their work and in each other.
As he was preparing to retire, he was asked to train his replacement. He told the new manager all about the job, then passed along his best piece of advice: get to know your people; visit them at the different locations, learn who they are, go out there sometimes JUST to say hello. In other words, “don’t be a stranger.”
He retired, confident that he had done his best to train the new person and was leaving his team in good hands.
About a year later, he began hearing troubling reports. From the manager, he heard that when he requested something of the team, they often didn’t do it right away, but took their sweet time getting around to it. He’d often have to go and hound them to get things done.
From the team members (several of whom had kept in touch with him after he retired), he heard, “Well, we never hear from him unless he needs something. He doesn’t care about us, so why should we care about him?”
And there it is: This is the same team, same duties, same organization… but with a different leader and very different results.
Was their work ethic at fault? Absolutely not. The ONLY difference was the style of the new leader, who treated them as just another number… only giving them attention when he needed something from them.
Humans rarely react positively to the feeling that you only care about what they can do for you, rather than building a relationship that inspires them to care about you in return. The same team that responds positively to a caring and compassionate leader quickly disengages when that same leader (or any other) disengages from them as human beings and treats them as “just another worker.”
But when leaders let them know they care about team members as people first and employees second, they will go to the wall for that leader.
That is engaged leadership… and it inspires exceptional results from engaged teams.
If you would like to learn more leadership tips like this, I invite you to join me at my session at the 2018 AHRA Annual Meeting, “10 Things You Should Never Do as a Leader,” on Tuesday, July 23 at 4:15 PM.
Sandy Geroux, MS is the founder/CEO at WOWPlace International, LLC. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.