Five Ways Leaders Treat Their People
How do you treat the people you lead? Below are five levels, from poor to outstanding, which I have observed. Where do you fall on this scale?
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- Abuse people. Some leaders abuse their people. They view them as disposable commodities. They don’t value people as human beings, but as replaceable workers, and it is manifested in their disrespect and disregard for them. We recently hired a new Nurse Practitioner on our team. She said she just quit a job she only held for two weeks because the doctor she worked with was very rude to the staff, even going so far as to throw objects he was holding when he was unhappy. Chances are if you abuse your people, you would not be reading this article. However, I challenge you to reflect, and even ask others how they feel about your leadership. I remember the first time I stuck myself with needle; I was a medical student, and a belligerent attending physician was yelling at me to hurry up. Abuse can take several forms. It can be outwardly aggressive, or it can be quiet and veiled. What about those leaders who don’t give you the time of day, don’t give you a turn to speak, or don’t take a moment to thank you? They can be moody and snippy. Remember that as leaders, you and I can be in positions of authority and become blind. That’s the way of power. How do you know if you may have abusive tendencies? Other than asking and encouraging honest feedback, which might be a problem if people are afraid of you, observe: How happy and empowered are the individuals around me and those I lead?
- Ignore people. Some leaders do not abuse their people, however they leave them alone. They issue tasks, and only inquire about them when the tasks are not done. They care exclusively about the work itself, and not the people doing the work. These bosses are cold and “all business.” I had a boss at one time who only saw me during my yearly evaluations. He was not mean, but he was not warm. I never liked seeing him, and he certainly was not very effective or influential in my life. Maybe he was too busy. Maybe he did not care. Regardless, his leadership was not impactful. He was doing his job to supervise me, but he was definitely not leading me. Are you indifferent toward your people? Do you care what happens to them at work and in life? If this is you, in either level one or two, I hope you recognize it, and quickly jump into a higher level of leadership.
- Help people succeed at work. In this level, we start demonstrating that we are invested in people who receive our leadership. Leaders at this level are intentional to help people succeed at work. They train them, meet with them, direct them, and praise them for their accomplishments. These leaders want to see people do well at work so the team will do well. They may even want to see them move forward in the company and be a better asset for the organization. Some may think this is the epitome of leadership, but I believe there are two higher levels that leaders must aspire to.
- Help people succeed in life. When leadership really gets good—when people willingly follow and believe in their leader—the leader has a genuine desire to not only see people succeed at work, but also in life. When I adopted this principle many years ago, there was an almost instant catapulting in my leadership capacity. This level of leadership calls on us to cultivate deeper character, to truly care for people, not merely pretend we care as a tool, or trick, to have them follow us. When you genuinely care for people, when you love them just as you would your family, you help them succeed in life. Helping them succeed in life includes their professional achievements, but then goes beyond to help them succeed financially, spiritually, emotionally, in their marriages, as parents, in every aspect of living, even encouraging them to become physically healthy. There are some requirements for this to work well. Keep in mind, you are not their psychologist or counselor; you are not leading a therapy group. You are leading an organization that must be effective. People need to meet expectations. Just like the great sports coaches who succeed on the court by helping young players succeed in life, we have to win on the court. We have to do the work we are tasked with. However, on the way to that success, we must also lift others up. Then, it will be like a group of musicians forming a symphony—working together in harmony to achieve beauty and greatness. Last week, during our weekly meeting in our multiple clinic locations, we played a video by Pastor Jimmy Evans about marriage. This is our leadership’s effort to invest in people’s marriages, living out the principle described above. It was well received. (Here it is, if you like a good resource for your marriage relationship: Understanding and Meeting Your Spouses Needs). Are you investing in the people you lead and helping them succeed in life?
- Help people find significance. I believe the highest and noblest way to treat someone you lead is to not only help them succeed at work and in life, but to help them find significance, to help them rekindle the fire for their cause if they had one, or find their purpose if they never have before. Amazing leaders encourage and even push their people to not be satisfied with professional success only, but to find a higher purpose in what they do or what they should be doing. The secret to helping people accomplish this level of selfless significance is for us to be there ourselves. That’s why leaders must make a firm resolution to higher levels of awareness, maturity, and purpose, otherwise they cannot take others anywhere worthwhile. They would not even know how. They would not know where to take them. Jesus took his disciplines from fishermen to church leaders and world changers. He led them to a calling, and they followed. What is your calling in life? What is your people’s calling? I challenge you today to raise your leadership gaze beyond the workplace, and take those you lead to a place that is world changing. Then, just watch how amazing your effectiveness becomes!
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Did you find yourself on this scale? I hope this article helps you identify how you treat the people under your charge and inspires you to invest into your people to bring them higher.