Looking At Leadership Through A Different Lens

Take a minute and think about this question: What characteristics do you want in people entrusted with your loved ones?

How about the teacher who is responsible for shaping the mind and character of your child for eight hours a day, nine months out of the year? Or the nurse who spends morning, noon and night beside your aging parent’s bed, helping them get dressed, feeding them every meal and making sure they are well cared for?

Good values?

Informed and knowledgeable about their field?

Passionate about the job they do?

You see when it’s our family — our heart connection — we expect those whose jobs it is to help the ones we love to have exceptional values, be extremely knowledgeable about their “expertise” in a subject and to exude passion and energy, which shows that they love what they do every day and their job is much more than a paycheck.

In my 25 year, international career at Caterpillar, I found that these same three principles (hiring and retaining values-driven, informed and passionate people) are the key to true, sustainable success in an organization.

As a leader, you serve in a crucial role that shapes the culture and success of the organization, and your frontline people are the company’s most important resource. They are the “teachers” and “nurses” who we expect to give exceptional care and service to our loved ones.

Gallup’s “State of the Global Workplace” study shows that less than 30 percent of employees are “engaged” and are truly “connected” to their company and are making positive contributions. The majority of workers — more than 70 percent — are disengaged and are essentially “checked out” and are “coasting.” They’re either sleepwalking through their workday, putting time, but not energy or passion into their work or are acting out their unhappiness and are “toxic” to the organization.

How does this play out in terms of business results? What about in quality of life?

People spend the majority of their lives at their workplace. As a result, the work environment has an incredible impact on their lives outside of the office — as parents, spouses and citizens.

Leaders must recognize that their most important job responsibility is investing in their people.

The often overlooked and underappreciated “front line” people can achieve amazing results if their leaders care for them, invest in them, and then hold them to high expectations. When your people know that the organization cares about them, not just in terms of what they deliver to the bottom line, but as human beings, when they see the organization investing in them through training and development, and they experience the organization holding them to high expectations, amazing things happen. In this work culture, your people will return the favor and care deeply about your organization (and not just about their paychecks), leading to significantly improved business results. Society will also benefit because people in these environments will become better parents, spouses and citizens as a result of reinforced values, increased dignity and a new sense of purpose.

So, in this era of cynicism and self centeredness — especially in business — we encourage you to be wildly different and transform your organization into one of true values and ethics, unbridled passion and energy, and one with a sense of purpose that will attract the “best of the best” employees and passionate customers/clients who will line up in droves to be associated with an organization … like yours.