Are you a leader who values people? Or are you from the old guard who thinks that you do not have to value people — that they are just there to get the work done? Are you in a work environment where you don’t feel valued as a person? When people do not feel valued, it can create an environment where they are unable to thrive, grow and succeed.
My mentor, John Maxwell, says the prevailing attribute of a leader is the ability to value people. In my opinion, this is one thing that differentiates a leader from a manager. Managers are more concerned about processes. They know that a certain amount of work needs to get done, and they deploy people to make sure it happens. On the other hand, leaders care about the people. Leaders influence the people in their charge. Leaders need to value their people.
Does every leader value their people? The sad truth is that they do not. Some leaders still prescribe to the notion that it is below them or unnecessary to get to know the people they are leading. What does it mean to value your people? The answer likely varies from leader to leader, but I would like to share some things I have done to show that I value the people I was trusted to lead.
Listen more than speak.
People want to feel valued, and they have great ideas. It is important to remember the right way or the best way is not always your way. You need to trust the people who are on the grind every day getting the work done. If they are telling you that there is a better way to get it done, implement their ideas. If they are complaining about something, listen. They may have some valuable insight that you need to hear. This is an incredible way to show you value them.
Show your gratitude.
Do you ever say thank you to your employees? Do you celebrate their success? Do you let them know you appreciate them and believe in them? Now, I am not talking about saying thank you to the people who show up on time to work or giving an award for doing their job. We always have people who will go above and beyond — they want to shine, and they want you to notice their extra effort. Do not let this type of dedication go unnoticed.
Empower them to lead.
Many leaders fail to empower their people, not because their people are incapable but because they are afraid of losing the control or they lack the ability to trust. Evaluate yourself. Is one of these barriers preventing you from empowering your people? Give them a chance to shine. Be available for them to come back to you if they are stuck or need clarification. You are never going to know if they can do it if you do not let them try. More importantly, they will never gain the confidence to do new things if they are never given the opportunity to do so.
Get to know them as people, not just employees.
This may be more powerful than anything else. Do not look at your people as just their roles within the organization. They are people with hurts and hopes and dreams — just like you. Do you know about their families? Do you know their goals for the future? Do you know what makes them tick? Can you motivate them to be the best they can be? Are you setting them up for success in the future? It is crucial for leaders to get to know your people at a deeper level than just the functions of their jobs. When you connect with people at this level, it will increase their trust, affect their loyalty and make them feel valued.
Spend more time focusing on what they can do, rather than what they cannot do.
We are often wired to focus on the negative. It is important to understand everyone is not good at everything. This is the power of a team. When you know what people’s strengths and weaknesses are, you can adjust accordingly and build a high-performing team. If you have someone who is great at putting together visual presentations, allow them to do that whenever possible. If they are not strong in another area, allow someone who is strong to complement their weakness. We are all good at something, and when we are in our sweet spots, incredible things happen. Stop focusing on the inability and shine the light on the ability.
I have heard many leaders talk about not having enough time to do all the things I mentioned above. Caring about people and valuing them as individuals does not take extra time. If you begin to focus on valuing people, it will become a habit for you rather than a burden. Do everything from a place of valuing people. It is especially important to put in the extra effort to value those who challenge you the most. When you can shift your mindset toward valuing people, you will see the results: increased productivity, positive morale boosts and better teamwork, just to mention a few.