A major complaint from executives throughout the world is the changing work
ethic and lack of commitment by employees.
With the lack of leadership today, I'm amazed we have any work ethic or
commitment by employees.
Employees rebel against the authoritarian leadership style and if they are
forced to endure it, they are probably performing at a maximum of 20 percent
capacity. Nor do they want the "flavor of the month" new management technique.
People want to be led; they want leaders with human values and respect for
people's unique talents and the contributions they can make. Employees want leaders who will create an
environment that nurtures excellence, risk taking and creativity.
And what do they get?
Managers who intimidate, manipulate and lie.
times have we heard management proclaim, "Our greatest asset is our employees"?
In 1995 a national survey found that 73 percent claim that employees were their
company's greatest asset. This same survey found that 98 percent of executives
agreed that improving employee performance would significantly increase company
But when asked to rank business priorities, these same executives relegated
investing in people to fifth place on a six-item list.
Success in the future depends on people, and in order to achieve success,
people depend on leaders. What we need in all walks of life and all endeavors is
Robert H. Rosen, in his book, "Leading People," has identified eight
principles of successful leaders. When integrated together, they form wisdom in
Vision: Leaders need to develop the vision for the enterprise and articulate
it to the entire organization. This creates a common purpose with everyone
working toward a common goal. This communication needs to be face-to-face, not
videos, publications or large meetings. For frontline employees this means their
supervisors, not the CEO or the executive team.
Trust: Without trust, vision becomes an empty slogan. Asking employees to
take risk, be entrepreneurial and give up the known for the unknown requires a
strong foundation of trust.
Managers and employees view change differently. Senior managers consistently
misjudge the effect of this misunderstanding, and do not understand the effort
required to instigate change.
Nordstrom Inc. issues its workers just one instruction: "Use your good
judgment in all situations." For employees to trust their leaders, their leaders
must walk the talk. To talk about change without any visible change in the
behavior of the leaders is like shoveling sand against the tide.
Participation: The leader's challenge is to unleash the intellectual capacity
of the organization - getting everyone involved. That makes each employee
responsible for the success or failure of the company.
Learning: Studies show that companies that train workers and give them a
stake in the business are more profitable than those who do not. Paying
attention to what many analysts term the soft side of business - developing
skills in management leadership and interpersonal areas of communication - is
the real key to a successful change in management strategy. Make a decision to
become a superior learning organization and apply this knowledge to create real
Diversity: Today's leader has a deep appreciation for people's differences.
His definition goes beyond age, gender and ethnicity, and includes differences
in lifestyle, religious beliefs, working habits and personalities. The best
leaders are not threatened by individuality. As a result, people who retain
things that are important to them make far more committed employees.
Different people require different forms of leadership. And, what's the most
important thing in diversity? Having a culture of respect. The leader
understands that people who feel equal and respected are likely to deliver
Creativity: In today's fast-paced world, creativity is essential. The best
leaders focus on the strengths of a company's employees and helps them manage
their weaknesses. The greatest contribution a leader can make to an employee is
to help him discover his talents and how those talents relate to the job at
hand. Create the environment for people to experiment, take risks and fulfill
their creative potential. The secret is to discover what people do well and ask
them to do more of it.
Integrity: Today's leader is a person of authenticity, honesty and integrity.
He stands for something. Companies with ethical reputations attract the best
employees. They also attract and retain loyal customers.
Most leaders, I believe, want to be ethical; but in business there is a
constant challenge involving conflicts and compromises and doing the right thing
isn't always easy. So when it comes to ethics, the leader must show people the
way. Leaders never sacrifice their long-term benefit for some immediate
short-term gain by compromising their ethics.
Community: Today's leader does not just measure success in terms of
profitability of the enterprise or individual earnings. He measures his success
by what he does for others. Leaders, by caring beyond themselves, find a deeper
sense of self-fulfillment and gratification by the contribution they make to
their community and the world at large. Leaders and their companies receive
incalculable returns by engaging with their communities.
Roy Chitwood is an author, trainer and consultant in sales and sales management and is president of Max Sacks International, Seattle.