Professor and leadership expert James O’Toole once said that "95% of American managers today say the right thing… 5% actually do it." I’m confident this is more true today than ever before. When I look around at the current business landscape, I see poor leadership destroying companies from the inside out. Disengaged employees, and especially those who abandon an organization altogether, cost companies billions of dollars each year, and as they say, people don’t leave companies — they leave bosses. Forty-six percent of employees leave their job because they feel under-appreciated, while 75% of employees cite their boss as the most stressful part of their job.
Luckily, the inverse of this is also true: great leaders find that happy employees are 31% more productive, and 56% more effective at sales!
But what makes a great leader? A truly excellent leader makes people believe in themselves, feel good about working for the company, and, most importantly, feel special about being chosen to work there. Ralph Hart, a former CEO for Heublin, a company with thousands of employees, made it a policy to personally greet every new hire. He’d sit down with them during the first month of their employment to have a short chat and let them know just how he and the company felt about them joining on. He would tell them, "The company you are working for is first-class. I want you to know we have first-class products, first-class marketing, first-class advertising and first-class customer service." However, he’d always stress that "to be able to list everything we do as first-class, we have found that we must hire only first-class people!" He made sure they knew that he was delighted to have them on the team.
In less than two minutes, this CEO made an enormous impact on his new employee. They couldn’t believe that the CEO of this huge company even knew their name, much less believed that they were a first-class talent. There’s nothing better than making someone feel special – nothing better than telling someone you believe in their abilities.
Ralph Hart knew better than anyone that how you treat your employees is how they will treat your customers and associates. If you want first-class employees, then treat them as such. They’ll respond in turn by going out of their way to do more, deliver more, help more, innovate more, and stick around for the long term.
When you think about your employees’ needs ahead of your own, the success of your business will take care of itself. If you show them that you are concerned about them advancing in their career, then they will help your company prosper. When you help them to succeed, they will help you succeed. Your relationship will grow and the need to micromanage will never be a concern.
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Robert Stevenson is one of the most widely recognized professional speakers in the world. Author of the books How To Soar Like An Eagle In A World Full Of Turkeys and 52 Essential Habits For Success, he’s shared the podium with esteemed figures from across the country, including former President George H.W. Bush, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, Anthony Robbins, Tom Peters and Steven Covey. Today, he travels the world, sharing powerful ideas for achieving excellence, both personally and professionally.