There is a single question I want you to ask of yourself regarding every person who works for you. If you do, it will make a massive difference in how you lead. Let me explain.
There is no question that business is about offering services and creating products in pursuit of profit. It is fine to define business this way—in part. Yet it is also important for us to view business as a means of enhancing lives, both the lives of our customers and those on our team.
Let’s talk about the team. One of your goals as a leader is to assure that the way your firm operates is investing in every person who works for you. Each person on your team should be growing, improving, learning, and developing as they work for you. Now, I’m not speaking of money and benefits, though you know I think these are important. I’m talking about your investment in each team member beyond their compensation package.
The greatest companies I know are those that thrive in the market place but change the lives of their team members as they do. I think of them as Transforming Teams. They change the lives of the customers by how they serve and produce. They also change the lives of their employees by the way they invest in them.
Large companies of the modern type usually do this well. They have educational programs and medical services and health facilities manned by conditioning experts and every type of social service and often programs that improve the quality of life of an employee’s family members.
I know of a man in his late twenties who went to work for one of these firms. Two years later he had lost fifty pounds, earned a master’s degree, received scholarship money for his gifted child to attend an elite school, and watched proudly as his wife opened the design firm of her dreams with a business loan from his employer. Let me tell you that this company has a devoted worker who plans to be part of that team the rest of his life.
Yet I also know of a firm that has only ten people. It can’t do all that the giant firm I mentioned above can do. Still, it arranged tutoring for one man who had never finished high school. It holds a professional education seminar for all its employees each quarter. They bring in experts on everything from business trends to business manners, from exercise and health to investing. They also let two of their employees run an online business after hours using the firm’s computers and they sent another off for a certification in their technical field. This ten-person firm is happy, thriving, and changing lives. It draws customers who know how profits will be used. Now, this is great leadership in action.
So here is the question I want to ask you: When you look at every person who works for you, how are you making an investment in their lives? By investment, I don’t necessarily mean money. How are you making the people entrusted to you better? Beyond their pay. Beyond the parties. Beyond the occasional departmental lunch at the nice restaurant. How are you making your people better?
This is part of leadership and part of building a contagious corporate culture that will be victorious in a changing world. Ask these questions. Get help with the answers. Make sure everyone who works for you is on a Transforming Team. The rewards for everyone will be immense.