"You've got to give loyalty down, if you want loyalty up." — Donald T. Regan Employees have an unerring sense of their own professional self interests and almost the same infallible instincts for what makes sense for their team, the mission, even the company, as a whole. These highly developed internal compasses are always at work, forming perceptions, guiding decisions, motivating or demotivating employees as befits the nature of events and decisions in the their organization.
Closely associated with assessing the effects of events and decisions on them personally, their team, and the mission are the intuitive evaluations of how their leaders respond up the chain of command; do their leaders do the right things for the individual employees, the team, and the mission as a whole? In essence, are the leaders loyal to the individual employees, the team, and the mission? Are leaders willing to seriously engage their own leaders, company processes, and institutional culture; to articulate the facts, illuminate the choices, describe the consequences of decisions, argue the team's or the individual employee's position, and invest their personal capital and credibility on behalf of those who work for them and the mission of the team and company?
It's a "no fail" test of leadership in the eyes of employees. It sends broad, deep, and not so subliminal messages about the leader when she/he passes this test. It says that their leaders:
- Understand employees' thoughts and opinions and use that knowledge to help the organization.
- Have a vision, purpose, and end state firmly in mind for the organization, a vision that will ensure success for all of the employees.
- Are fair, impartial in their judgments, and inclusive and ecumenical; without bias, preconceptions, and agendas.
- Exercise judgment that is focused on the greater good of the organization and its people.
- Appreciate what employees do for them, the mission, and the organization.
- Understand what employees are doing, how they do it, and help to accomplish things they cannot do for ourselves.
- Are willing to challenge the organization on employees' behalves, for the mission and greater good, to protect employees, the team and mission from bureaucracy, questionable decisions, and unfair treatment.
- Care more about the greater good than themselves or their boss. That the focus is on the mission, the employees, and the organization, in that order.
- Don't give up easily, especially on the employees.
- Do the right things, for the right reasons, in the right ways.
- Match their actions and their words.
- Place the needs of the organization and its people above themselves.
These are extremely powerful and important messages that connect employees to their leaders, the mission, and the organization. It’s a test that leaders must pass in order to truly lead.
"Be a friend when people most need one. As movie mogul Lew Wasserman used to advise talent agents: 'If an actor is working, make sure you talk to him at least twice a week. If he is not working, talk to him every day.' — David Mahoney
Many thanks, Keith Stalder, #28
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