Leaders of people must create a culture—an ecosystem within the workplace—in which each individual can perform to his or her best outcomes.
By Roxi Hewertson
People and machines. Sometimes leaders can forget who is what.
The 2013 Academy Award winning film HER hit a powerful chord in the market for a reason. And some of us remember the 1968 film, 2001: A Space Odyssey and the unforgettable and conflicted computer Hal that exposed an entire generation to artificial intelligence.
But people are not machines, and machines are not people, even when they are as clever as Data on Star Trek: The Next Generation.
That means we need to lead the flesh-and-blood people we have—not the people we wish we could build. The reality is that people are messy. They are unpredictable and can have inconvenient emotions.
People have physical, mental and spiritual needs. They are motivated by different things, and have hopes, fears and dreams. They can speak different body languages, have trouble communicating and can be illogical.
Leaders of people, no matter the working discipline, must create a culture—an ecosystem within the workplace—in which each individual can perform to his or her best outcomes. Your people are all within the ecosystem of your “responsibility pond.” To succeed in the long run, that pond has to be a healthy place to work for your people and you.
Bottom lines matter to everyone. Well-led, engaged and committed employees bring more to the bottom line, day after day, year after year. In fact, every minute of discretionary effort expended by your employees is money in the bank for your business.
The reality is that most employees in the United States (validated in survey after survey) are neither happy nor engaged in their jobs. The number of unengaged employees ranges from a horrible 55 percent to a staggering 70 percent!
What this means to your bottom line is that you might as well stack $100 bills to the ceiling every day and set a match to them. Leading badly costs your business that much or more: You just don’t see the smoke until it’s too late. That's because people leave their leaders far more often than they leave their jobs—even if they just clock out mentally.
Businesses need to focus on the competencies of their leaders, and I don't mean their technical competencies. I’m talking about the competencies needed to lead people, not machines. That requires emotional intelligence competencies. The good news is that these can be learned, if the leader is motivated.
Whether you are a manager, executive, CIO or CEO, your leadership style matters. Whether you are running a large global firm, a small project team or an entrepreneurial venture, it’s the way you communicate and connect to other people that will make or break you, your staff and your business.
Leadership authority Roxi Bahar Hewertson, CEO of Highland Consulting Group, and AskRoxi.com, brings more than three decades of practical experience in the worlds of business, higher education and nonprofits. She is an entrepreneur, consultant, speaker and author of Lead Like it Matters...Because it Does" (McGraw-Hill) (www.tinyurl.com/leadlikeitmatters), which provides leaders with a step-by-step road map and practical tools to achieve great results.