By Kimberly Weisul
Keeping good employees is critical–and it’s OK to take that personally.
When starting or running a business, your leadership skills will be just as important to success as your bottom line, whether you have one employee or 100.
John Maxwell is the author of dozens of leadership books, including three that have sold more than a million copies each. But at a recent roundtable discussion in New York to promote his latest, The Leader’s Greatest Return: Attracting, Developing, and Multiplying Leaders, the participants had uniquely different points of view as to what, exactly, employees need, and what leaders are positioned to provide it.
Joining Maxwell in the discussion were Adrienne Bankert, an ABC News correspondent; Dave Hollis, former president of worldwide distribution for Walt Disney Studios, and now the CEO of The Hollis Company, a life-coaching firm; Tom Golisano, the founder and former CEO of Paychex; and Gerard Adams, the co-founder of Elite Daily, a Millennial news site.
Hollis began by extolling the importance of leading by example, a theme that would recur throughout the event. “I defined for my teams–every time I got a new responsibility–here are the things I will be living [up to]. By defining [these things], not only was I hoping to hold myself accountable, but I was asking [my teams] to be partners in my accountability as a leader to them.”
Maxwell turned the conversation toward the importance of getting to know someone before trying to become a leader to them. At the beginning of his career, Maxwell said, he too often relied on positional authority. His attitude: “I was clear on the vision, so get on the train.” When he changed his approach, to one of getting to know people first, he characterized it as “life-changing.”
Bankert expanded that idea to include not just getting to know people, but also making them happy. “The future of companies is being very holistic, being very invested in the path of an employee,” Bankert said. “It’s not just that I want you to succeed in this company, I want you to succeed in life.” Bankert said leaders are prepared for this responsibility “if they value people.”
Bankert went on to talk about heart and depth and identity, at which point Golisano cut in: “You’re giving the entrepreneur an awful lot to think about,” he said. “Most entrepreneurs are thinking, ‘Did we meet our sales goals?'” Golisano’s approach, he said, was much simpler: “I start with honesty and respect. If you get that, that’s 90 percent of leadership.”
Adams and Maxwell both tried to find a middle ground. “Both of you are right,” said Adams. “We need heart in an organization… but we need to make sure we are growing this organization so it can be profitable and provide security to those employees at the same time.”
“In every company you need to have success and you need to have significance,” said Maxwell. “I don’t think it is ever either-or.”
“Don’t forget,” said Golisano. “Stock options help.”
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