People who are important to the success of a leader will work for the success of the leader, so long as they are treated as if they are important to the success of the leader.
Remember the vastly popular sitcom Cheers? The show took place in a fictional Boston pub and revolved around an eclectic group of Bostonians (all Bostonians like to think they are eclectic) who always ended up coming back to this same bar. Why? Because they felt like they belonged: Everybody knows your name; everybody’s glad you came. Having a sense of belonging made them feel welcome and appreciated.
Has anyone ever come to you and asked for your advice or help with a problem or opportunty they faced? How did that make you feel? Were you complimented that someone would think enough of you to ask your opinion or assistance on something that was important to them? I bet that made you feel good and, in return, you wanted to help them as much as you could.
Creating that same feeling among those who have the ability to contribute to your success will encourage them to do what they can to help you find success. When a leader strives to make people feel welcome as part of the group — appreciated for the value they bring, and respected for what they can contribute — then the members of the group do feel wanted, needed and important; in return, they will do all they can to support the leader and the organization.
A lot of leaders and companies like to spout off about how important the employees are to the success of the company, even referring to them as “associates” or “partners.” Unfortunately, all too often, their actions do not back up their words. Often corporate leaders do not really believe the employees are the most important factor in the success of the company – they think they are. Many leaders get so wrapped up in themselves, they forget that others can play a very valuable role in their quest for success. On the other hand, successful leaders have a deep, abiding belief that others are important to their success and show it. When this happens, employees become committed to the success of the leader, because they have a sense of connection with the leader.
The question, then, is fundamental: how do you create the type of culture and environment that signals you welcome, respect and value the involvement of followers in your quest for success? There are really a number of ways to foster that precious reciprocating support that can be an important part of your success.
Here are a few suggestions …
- Always offer transparent two-way communication with employees – Others will feel respected and connected to your objectives and success when they are in the communications loop. Sharing information generates both interest and motivation and is an important part of showing respect. Listening is equally as important. When a leader is willing to listen to others, it is a signal that their views are valued and that in turn encourages them to try even harder to come up with ideas and make a real contribution.
- Invite employee participation in the decision-making process – When a decision is being considered or a project initiated – especially something that could impact all employees – the best way for a leader to gain perspective, support and effort from employees is to always engage them in the process. It’s not that employees will make the decision – they don’t expect to – but including them in the process and accepting their input sends a message that their contribution is valued. And once the decision is made or the project launched, it is much more likely that the employees will support it and take ownership of the effort to make it successful.
- Care as much about the success of your employees as you do about your own – When employees recognize that you have their best interests in mind – be it compensation, development or opportunity for growth and advancement – they will reciprocate by working for your best interests. If the leader shows he or she does not care about the interests and needs of the employees, how can they expect them to care about their success?
- Keep your commitment and promises – If you are going to rely on the efforts of others to help find success, it will be important for them to learn that they can rely on your words, promises and actions. They need assurance that you will be the same type of leader tomorrow as you are today and were yesterday. You build credibility and earn the support of others when you never promise more than you can deliver and always provide more support than expected.
- Be open and accessible – If you really believe that someone is important to your success, how would you act? Of course, you would constantly want to interact with them, seek them out, ask questions and solicit suggestions. In short, you would constantly convey the respect and value that you place in these individuals. That is the way successful leaders operate because they know that when followers are made to feel respected and valued, it will motivate them to prove they deserve the trust placed in them.
- Share the Success – If success is your reward for hard work, share that success with those who worked hard for your success. Employees will do more of whatever they are called upon to do if their contributions are recognized, reinforced and rewarded. There are many ways to do this and certainly financial rewards are one way, but they are not the only way. Often the sincere respect and recognition of their effort is enough to foster their best efforts. Listening to what employees have to say, complimenting their efforts when deserved, publicly and privately acknowledging their contributions goes a long way to demonstrating your understanding and indebtedness for the important part they played in your success.
And the Moral of the Story …
When it comes to finding success, the more people you can enlist to help you search for it, the more likely you are to find it. When others are important to your success, the best way to motivate them to work for you success is to treat them as if they are important to your success.
Just like the customers of the bar in Cheers, all you have to do to keep those important to your success coming back to support your efforts is to make them feel welcome in the group, appreciated, and respected. Most essential of all is to let them know that you know they are important to finding the success you are searching for.