In my research and work over the last two decades as an executive coach and organizational consultant, I have combed the planet gathering evidence by talking to the world's top CEOs, thought-leaders, authors, and psychologists to crack the code on what makes a truly exceptional leader and what great leaders do to develop a great company culture.
Historically, and still true today, as we look at what the workplace has become, most organizations see people as objects or functions...as a means to an end in a transaction.
If that's how we are going to continue to treat each other--as a transaction and a means to an end, like all you're worth to me, is to give me something I need to get my work done-- you can bet that our interaction will ultimately suffer long-term.
The rare sign of an exceptional 21st Century leader
What if I, as a leader or manager, chose to treat you, the employee, with respect and empathy, and saw you as a real person with real needs as important as my own?
If I'm in that frame of mind as a leader, the dynamic in the workplace is going to be radically different, whether you're the founder of a 5-person startup or the CEO of a Fortune 500 company.
As a leader, you have an enormous responsibility to take care of people. Remember this: whoever you're in charge of now is somebody's daughter or son, it's someone's spouse or partner. And each is relying on you for guidance and support--to be taken care of.
In short, the rarest of qualities an exceptional leader possesses today? It's treating another person as a valued human being.
In truly human workplaces--those companies that are also profitable and making a mark in their industries, human leaders show up at every level of the organizational chart.
Being a truly human leader--the way the people around you need you to be so they can excel in their work--runs counter to fear, control, micromanagement, incivility, and self-centeredness
Being truly human and caring for others defines the culture from the top down, and raises the employee experience to new heights, which then carries over to a great and positive customer experience.
At first thought, this idea sounds fluffy and off-putting from a business and organizational standpoint. But we're finding that when you express your leadership humanity through care, belonging, respect, and "love in action"--the verb, not the squishy feeling--it makes a stunning difference in how employees feel about work:
- It raises their performance;
- it improves employee engagement;
- it increases value and loyalty across the organization;
- it makes people arrive home at the end of the day and tell their loved ones, "I love my job and I can't wait to be back tomorrow."