In a recent conversation with Adam Grant, author of the best-selling book, Give and Take, we discussed the power of leaders who display extreme generosity and caring. While it's something we've always known, it still seems to elude so many leaders: the more you support and advocate for your people, the more they want to do for you. Additionally, studies show a leader's approval rating goes up when he or she shows higher levels of humility, including being critical of their own ability to lead.

Supermarket Workers Who Adore Their CEO

A great example of this is the employees of the New England supermarket chain, Market Basket. They went on strike when the CEO they loved was removed by the board of directors. They stayed on strike until he was able to return. 

Another example, is the late Dave Goldberg, CEO of SurveyMonkey. This article  celebrates all that was exceptional about Goldberg. Including, what made him a successful leader.

The Ultimate Employee Compliment = Being Hashtag-Worthy

In the article, Adam Grant recounts the time he was asked by Goldberg to speak at SurveyMonkey. Grant immediately sensed a level of passion and appreciation from the employee that he had not experienced elsewhere. As he questioned employees, he learned it stemmed from their admiration and loyalty to their CEO. It was this statement about how the employees approached their jobs after Goldberg passed away that struck me:

Great leaders build things that outlast them. Inspired by Dave's example, SurveyMonkey will continue to thrive. This week, the teams worked late to finish projects that mattered most to Dave, and used the hashtag #makedaveproud.

When leaders are admired, it's usually for what they do for the company. But Dave's team admired him for what he did for them. Dave saw and brought out the best in others.

This got me thinking: What does it take to be a leader who is hashtag-worthy?

4 Actions Can Make A Leader Hashtag-Worthy

Looking at leaders who are successful AND have the overwhelming support of their staff, it's clear they execute on a set of beliefs as follows:

  1. Recognize your job as a leader is to help every team member believe in their ability to succeed . Measure your success on how inspired your people are.
  2. Give a helping hand, not because of what you'll get back, but because of what it can teach you. See your job as to listen and try to solve problems for others so they can do their jobs better.
  3. Be genuinely excited for others - champion their successes as much as you can. When you advocate for people, it shows you're secure in your role and not threatened by the success of others.
  4. Don't be afraid to show your passion and love for the things you care about beyond the company. Prove your positive mindset and caring isn't an act, but rather, a finely tuned trait that's part of your leadership DNA.

While the above may seem obvious, it's much harder to practice than we think. 

Reasons Leaders CAN'T Earn The Hashtag

I'd like to believe that most leaders want to be hashtag-worthy.  Unfortunately, there are business pressures that can make them lose their ability to stick to the beliefs above. Some include:

  • Financial pressure to keep the business in the black so no employee cuts need to be made.
  • Reporting to their bosses and delivering on the numbers  i.e. board of directors and investors.
  • Personal issues outside the job that are draining their ability to be patient and supportive.
  • Stress levels that are so high they physically can't maintain the right level of composure.
  • A lack of peers or a support network they can tap into to manage their stress.

In short, it's just not that easy to stay focused on serving your employees when you're in charge and feeling the heat. Thus, when we see a leader who is able to deliver, we should do all we can to promote their exceptional behavior.

What Leaders Do You Think Deserve A Hashtag?

I'd love to hear from readers what leaders they believe are worthy of a hashtag. Better still, what hashtag would you give them and why? If we showcase exceptional leaders on social media with hashtags, we might inspire more executives to strive to be worthy of one.

Published on: Nov 15, 2015