In case you’re ever doubting the purpose of developing relationship with your employees, listen closely. If you ever feel like investing in those working with or for you is a nicety, and occasionally seems like a waste of time, please keep reading. Let me encourage you along this part of your journey to great leadership.
My name is Laura Hess; I’m John’s Executive Assistant. On Tuesday, John wrote about the importance of your commitment to your employees. He told the story of an Old Pete Spriggle, a man who couldn’t be bothered to devote much time or energy to the future. He couldn’t see past the here and now. He thought it a waste of his time to build up his children when they needed to be built up. Old Pete chose to sit out of the growth process, and hope his children grew to be interesting adolescents. When they reached that point, Old Pete gladly jumped in to reap the benefits of his childrens’ development into interesting people. John goes on to demonstrate the foolishness of Old Pete’s mentality. “Know of any returns on investment that skip the investment part?”, he writes. You can read John’s post in its entirety here.
It is said that, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” In fact, I’ve heard that line so often that it almost sounds true. There’s some truth to it, of course, as there’s some truth to just about anything you might hear that isn’t actually true.
But imitation isn’t flattery, and it certainly isn’t sincere. Moreover, imitation is a cheat, first of all to the one being imitated, but far more importantly, to the one doing the imitating.
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“To encourage” is to “put into the heart,” or to “install daring.” I often talk about the importance of “encouraging the heart,” but it turns out that this is a fantastical redundancy. “To encourage the heart” is “to hearten heart.” I’ll admit that, though this is a redundancy, I’m still way for it! The human heart, more than any other thing on earth, needs to be heartened!
“Encourage” comes to us directly from the Middle English word, “Encourage.” Visit the Sacré-Cœur Basilica in Paris, and you will be visiting the “Sacred Heart,” and witnessing how the French use the Middle English word “cour” – “heart” – just as English does. To en-coeur or to en-cour is to en-heart – to place heart (cour-age) into our heart – and we all need this en-cour-agement.
Recently, I spoke with a friend whose company has been grinding up its people for years, faithfully plugging away at this strategy as they’ve steadily shrunk. My friend asked me if I could suggest a strategy that would finally convince the decision makers to try some new things, treat people with dignity for a change. I offered him several strategies, but I also said this: “At the end of the day, there’s no strategy that is guaranteed to turn his bosses around. They have to learn to think differently before you’re going to see the change you’re looking for.
It is imperative that we speak up for the treasure that is the human contributor in the workplace, both to encourage the countless businesses who deeply value their people, and also to nudge more companies to do so. This is the work I’ve given my life to, and pound for pound, my money’s on the company that values, grows and serves its people.
“Just about everything you learned in school about life is wrong, but the wrongest thing might very well be this: Being well-rounded is the secret to success.” Seth Godin
First of all, “wrongest” is, indeed, a word, though my spell-checker says it isn’t. We shouldn’t expect anything but excellent grammar from Seth Godin, as we shouldn’t expect anything but interesting and even startling turns of phrase. So, with that settled, let me add that “being well-rounded” is the wrongest thing for several interrelated reasons.
James Heskett, UPS Foundation Professor Emeritus at Harvard Business School, wrote a highly provocative article in early 2013 that was titled, “Why Isn’t ‘Servant Leadership’ More Prevalent?”
(You can read the article here: http://rbc.bethelhk.org/images/download/RBCnews2014-5.pdf)
In this brief article, Heskett goes a rather long way in answering his own question, though he does not point this answer out to his readers. Also, Heskett falls well short of satisfying any reader who desires to become a better leader and who wonders if servant leadership can help.
All Progress Begins with Telling The Truth.
Trustworthiness—the personal integrity of the leader—is a business asset. Being a leader who is trustworthy – a leader who does what he or she says – has a measurable value for the company’s bottom line. The reason this is true is that workers produce far better results for the leader that they trust than for the leader that they don’t trust. The leadership of an enterprise must be credible – the leader must be believable – if there is to be growth in worker engagement.
“It is more blessed to give than to receive!”
You’re at the bottom of the pecking order, and you wish someone would notice your value. Study your supervisor closely and discover what gives them their greatest pain (frustration, fear, heartburn, anxiety, grief). Then set about the task of taking away that pain. Solve their problems. Pick up their slack. Build a system that assures your boss that, whatever the recurring nightmare, you’ve got it covered.
This week, as in almost all weeks, I sat down with a close friend who “is writing a book.” He asked me if he could bounce a few ideas off of me about his project. I’ve had this conversation at least two hundred times since my first exhilarating (and very surprising) experience of watching one of my books go bestseller.