As a leader, how do you see your employees? What do they represent? Are they your most important asset? Are they a never ending source of problems? Do they represent a bigger budget and more responsibilities? Or are they something else completely? It's a simple question, really, when you think about it. Fortunately, it also has a simple answer: Employees are people. That's it. They're people.
Now, they may be people that have been hired to do a certain task; they may be people who help achieve goals; they may be people who represent assets-and expenditures-on the balance sheet, but first and foremost, they are people. Why is this important? Because sometimes leaders get so caught up in the tasks, the goals, the budgets and the other "stuff" that is important to get their job done, that they forget that the only way do succeed at these things is to deal with people first. Not numbers, not the top line and the bottom line, but individuals. These individuals are not just a means to an end: They are the only means to your end. Without them, there are no results, there is no top line, and the bottom falls out.
If leaders forget that they are dealing with individuals first, it can cause all sorts of problems, sometimes in the short term, sometimes over the long term. But the results are the same: more effort is needed to get the work done, there are more problems to manage, and the atmosphere in the workplace becomes more noxious. Eventually, it catches up to the leader: missed deadlines, cost overruns, and of course, more stress which can lead to health issues.
Over the next few weeks, I will be covering various aspects of this human side of leadership. As always, I welcome comments, questions, and suggestions.
No matter what the title on the business card, leaders cannot exist unless people accept to follow their lead. Nobody is anointed a leader, people decide to grant them that distinction. They can be bosses or supervisors by decree, but they are leaders by consensus. By underestimating this human aspect of leadership, leaders seriously undermine their effectiveness.