Disclaimer: Nanci is going to be serious for once! I know it is a strange concept but roll with me…
I am about to make a bold statement.
Leadership teams within a company can segregate themselves to a level of untouchable arrogance.
That was a lot of take in.
How well do you know your employees?
I mean, REALLY know them?
If you are in a leadership position, it is part of your duty to know whom you employ.
Not only that, you must mingle.
You must ask questions.
You must remember details.
You must connect.
As credit unions we preach about loyalty, empathy, and connections.
Those do not only pertain to our members.
The “levels” of leadership teams became apparent to me many moons ago.
I was working at a company awhile back and around the holiday they purchased winter coats for their entire staff.
However, that excitement quickly wore off when the staff realized that the executive leadership team received “different jackets”.
Not only a large brand name, but thicker, warmer, and more prominent in style.
To the employees below this elite team, it appeared to be an us vs. them situation completely fueled by their own arrogance.
More importantly, it spoke volumes to the rest of us how they perceived not only us, but themselves.
In this single action they managed to take a moment of good and turn it into a moment of haves and have not’s.
It got ugly.
The chitter chatter started to become negative.
The loyalty meter went down a lot.
All over coats.
Some may say that is a frivolous reason to become a jaded employee, but think of it this way;
Perception is more important than reality. If someone perceives something to be true, it is more important than if it is in fact true.
It was never about the “elite” coats that the upper management team received.
Not one person was upset about the actual tangible item.
It was the picture it portrayed.
It was a non-verbal way of making others feel less than in their positions.
It was an ugly display of a kingdom mentality.
This made me start viewing leadership in a different manner.
Are we seeing each team member as a leader?
Are we treating them with the respect that we wish for ourselves?
Are we taking the time to be part of the team rather than segregating ourselves to the point of becoming the “man behind the curtain”?
That isn’t leadership.
If your staff fears you, is nervous around you, can’t approach you, and fears repercussions when they disagree with you…
You are in the wrong position.
I want to say more boldly than I have ever said before, you do not have the right as a leader to set yourself so apart from the other humans working around you that you create a wall so tall, no one can connect with you.
I also want to state something else.
Tellers are leaders.
That receptionist? They are a leader too.
The custodian that cleans your office and restrooms … leader.
The term leader means a principal leader in their area and the term leader comes with a hefty responsibility.
The reason the above are leaders is because a leader empowered them to feel such.
Read that again.
Leadership lurks and grows in even the darkest corners if only it is nurtured.
I have been a part of and seen many leadership styles.
Some led by empowerment and empathy.
Some lead by fear and intimidation.
And even worse than that, some believed they were leading when they were not.
The largest lesson that I have learned in all of it is that someone, somewhere made me believe that I could be a leader.
They gave me the tools and the support.
They listened to my ideas and valued me.
They made me feel like a working cog in the workhouse wheel.
They empowered me.
Take a look at who has empowered you in your journey.
Shoot them a text or an email and let them know you are grateful and let them know why.
Watch how you magically make their day.
If you are a leader in your profession, take a look at the people who report to you.
Really look at what they do on a daily basis.
Get to know them.
And most of all thank them for the unique skills that they bring to the table.
Watch how you magically change their loyalty.
And maybe more important than anything else I have said above…
Sport the same team jacket with pride.
“It takes each of us to make a difference for all of us”