If you are a leader, I want to ask you to take a moment before proceeding to close your eyes, and imagine the face of every single person who you are responsible for leading.  Look into their eyes, listen to their voice, and imagine their responsibilities.

Done?

What is the one thing that they all have in common?

I’ll give you a hint: They are all human beings.

Crap.  That’s the answer.  Oh well.  Let’s move on!

In a world full of self-help business leadership, conquer the world books and “guru ninja badass” coaches we’ve lost something incredibly valuable to the future beyond us; the ability to approach the businesses we lead, which are full of human beings…like a human being.  We’ve relegated people to line items, human capital, and liabilities.  We’ve forgotten that at the core of all of us there is a desperation to belong to a tribe and pursue dreams bigger than ourselves.

Why does this matter? It’s business.  Put your big boy, or girl, pants on!

If you’ll humor me, I want to share a short story with you to answer that question:

Roger (name changed to respect his privacy), one of my greatest mentors in life, is the CEO of a manufacturing business and is responsible for leading close to 250 employees across 3 states.  He believes in the hopes and dreams of his team.  He only hires leaders who believe the same.  He invests time and resources in to everyone who works there, from the lowest paid position to the highest.  He personally sits with people to help them grow as people.  He has a core belief that life is not about work, and if work is the highest priority you have…you’re wrong.

I initially wondered how much of a difference this would actually have on a business, and I had the opportunity to do some work for them, getting to know team members from the lowest paid position to the highest.  Well, it makes a huge difference.

It flies in the face of so many of those guru ninja’s though.  You can’t win that way…

Here are some of the observations and benefits I saw while working with, and having conversations with, their team members:

1.    They hire and retain better people, because of their culture.

2.    The team doesn’t put up with people who don’t participate and help them win.

3.    Their productivity is high, and everyone looks for ways to be more efficient.

4.    Their profits and margins go up year after year by a substantial amount.

5.    Their customers are more satisfied than their competitor’s customers.

6.    Their customers are loyal to them, even when their price isn’t lowest.

7.    Their leadership team innovates ways to grow the business.

8.    There are less work related lost time incidents.

I could keep adding to that list…it amazes me how well his company functions from top to bottom.

After studying his company…I began studying other companies with great leaders.  They all had something in common.  Ready?  Here’s the answer to the title:  The greatest advantage every great leader has, is that they are consciously aware that they are  leading human beings.

This leader, mentor, and friend of mine has shaped what I do now.  His company is doing what every company hopes to do; increase profits every year, beat the competition, and add tremendous value to their customers.  The crazy part, is that they are achieving these things by investing in their people, to improve their lives, achieve their dreams, and give them ownership of their role in the business.

I know this is a short article, and I could write so much more on what goes in to their success…and they will probably come up many times as an example as I write on Intentional Leadership and HEALTHY Culture.

I hope that this article impacts you in a way that you go and lead your people well.

I believe that everyone I have the pleasure of meeting has something to teach me, so please, I would love to know your thoughts and experiences!

Grace and Peace,
Brad O’Hara