It was a tough quarter…again. Sales were down, and expenses were high. One facility required major remediation in order to get back into compliance, a fact which only further exacerbated the problems the company had been having for some time.
At a time when strong leadership was needed to turn the ship around, the CEO was disconnected. He was in his newly acquired office having thousands of dollars of custom cabinetry installed the day a division of over 300 employees got the pink slip.
When his assistant asked what he planned to do about the numbers, he said, “What do you expect me to do?”
It should come as no surprise that within a year, the entire company was dissolved, and thousands of other employees were out of work as well.
Throughout the process, the CEO was questioned as to what was going on and what he planned to do about it. He blamed everything and everyone – from current events, to competition, to stockholders, to his own management team.
But he failed to accept responsibility for his own actions – or more accurately, a lack thereof.
As a result, he essentially sealed his fate and the company’s as well.
What he didn’t realize was that, just outside his door was a powerful team who could have helped him save the company. But he had failed to engage and connect with his management team and his employees. They had entrusted him with their livelihoods, and he let them down.
One of the 11 essential needs of employees is Loyalty.
It is knowing that leadership “has your back” as they expect you to have theirs. Loyalty generates the kind of security in a company that makes everyone want to succeed, not just for themselves, but for all involved.
And this leader didn’t have it.
How can you as a leader exemplify and inspire LOYALTY with your team?
First and foremost, listen to your people at all levels. A good leader will purposely get to know his or her people well enough for them to offer honest feedback and share ideas. If you have a suggestion box, by all means, read the suggestions and act on those which would be of benefit to the company. Honor your people by simply listening, and they will honor you by letting you know if there is something that needs your attention.
It is easy to blame others when things go wrong; but a truly effective leader will take responsibility. If an employee makes a mistake, yes, they should be accountable. But the leader should also be accountable for helping the employee evaluate and remedy the situation. The old adage that “everything rises and falls on leadership” has stood the test of time for a reason.
Yield the Floor
Contrary to popular belief, you as the leader are not expected to have all the answers. This should come as a relief to many. The best leaders surround themselves with experts in diverse areas. If there is something you don’t know as a leader, tap into the power of your team and yield the floor to an expert. You will be glad you did! Not only will this solve your problem…you will also gain a bit of that person’s wisdom as well.
Here’s a news flash – leaders are not perfect. Problems come when we pretend to be. The truth is, we are all learning how to lead together. If you make a mistake, don’t know an answer, or handle a situation in less than stellar fashion, own up to it. Admit it, ask forgiveness, and move forward in a better direction. Many leaders don’t want their people to know they are fallible. But acknowledging that you are helps your people to be transparent and growing leaders as well.
Leave Your Office
It is easy to get trapped in a corner office. People come to see you. Phone calls ring in. Paperwork lands on your desk. These are all things that can keep you behind closed doors when, at times, you need to be out and about. Take time each day to meet a new employee or to go out with another business leader or mentor. As that show, Undercover Boss, reveals: you learn a lot about your company when you leave your office.
Trust is hard for many leaders. It means you are placing some part of your success in the hands of others, and that is a point of fear. But the thing about trust is that it works both ways. If you hire good people and empower them to do their work well, then trust them to carry out their responsibilities, they will more often than not surprise you with their level of trustworthiness. It is not as much about them earning your trust (as is the common thinking on this matter), but about you trusting them first.
Yoke Up with Your Team
There are times when all hands are needed on deck. You have no doubt been on teams where everyone is scrambling to meet the leader’s deadline – canceling their evening plans to make sure the work gets done. And the leader saunters out of the office at 3:00 p.m. to get a haircut. What kind of a message does this send to the team? A good leader will roll up their sleeves and dive in to help when needed so everyone can leave at a decent hour.
These small habits, regularly engaged, build loyalty. They let your team know you value them, and in turn, they value you.
Do you want a team that “has your back?”
There’s a very simple solution…
Dave Ferguson is “The Leaders’ Coach”, an internationally recognized executive leadership coach, speaker, facilitator, and author. Are you interested in talking to Dave about coaching or having Dave speak to inspire and motivate your team? “ASK COACH DAVE” at 704-907-0171 or at Dave@AskCoachDave.com.