Since I’m an entrepreneur, I understand entrepreneurs. So often, we’re like hard-charging, fast-driving bus drivers that have a vision and goal within our sights and we’ll run over anyone—even our own employees—to reach our destination.
Early in my business career, I was that kind of driver, and I experienced immediate and short-term success as a result. However, as I grew my businesses, I eventually ran my people, company, marriage and health into the ground. Fortunately, I was given a second chance, and in the process I discovered a different perspective and style of leadership that changed everything. I realized that any hard-charging entrepreneur can create success in the short term, but it would take a positive entrepreneur with a people- and process-driven approach to build a successful company for the long term.
To win in business, you must win with people. Running over people will only get you so far. To create true and lasting success, you must invite the right people on your bus, take the time to invest in them, develop them and nurture them. When you help them grow, they’ll help you grow. After all, it’s not the numbers that drive the people, but the people that drive the numbers. In this spirit, here are a few ways to nurture and invest in your people.
Care about them— The main question every employee in every organization is asking is, “Do you care about me; can I trust you?” Employees want to know if you care about them. If you do, they will be more likely to stay on the bus and work with you. Employees are more engaged at work and will work at their highest potential when their manager cares about them.
Develop a relationship with them— Author Andy Stanley once said, “Rules without relationship lead to rebellion.” Far too many managers and leaders share rules with their people, but they don’t have a relationship with them. So what happens? The people rebel, and they disengage from their jobs and the mission of the team. I’ve had many managers approach me and tell me that my books helped them realize they needed to focus less on rules and invest more in their work relationships. The result was a dramatic increase in team performance and productivity. To develop a relationship with your employees, you need to build trust, listen to them, make time for them, recognize them and mentor them.
Appreciate them— The main reason why people leave their jobs is because they don’t feel appreciated. For example, Doug Conant, the CEO of Campbell Soup, has written more than 16,000 thank-you notes to employees in the past seven years and created a very positive business in the process. It’s as easy as saying (or writing) “thank you.”
It’s a simple truth: When you care about your employees and the people you work with, they are more likely to stay on the bus and work harder, with more loyalty and greater positive energy. In turn, they are more likely to share their positive energy with your customers, thus enhancing service and improving the bottom line. The greatest customer-service strategy has nothing to do with customer service; it has everything to do with how you treat your employees. If you treat them well, they will treat the customer well.
It all starts with a decision to be a positive entrepreneur and the understanding that leadership is not just about what you do, but what you can inspire, encourage and empower others to do. When you are a positive entrepreneur, you bring out the best within each of your employees by sharing the best within you. Instead of running over the people in your company, you invite them on the bus with you and empower them to help you create an amazing and successful ride.