Today Fortune magazine published their annual 2015 Best Small & Medium Workplaces list, with their partner Great Place to Work®. According to Fortune, the rigorous selection process included an employee survey and an in-depth questionnaire about benefits programs and company practices. Great Place to Work® evaluates each application based on five dimensions of a great workplace: credibility, respect, fairness, pride and camaraderie. Fortune reports, “In compiling the list, Great Place to Work® has found that employees believe they work for great organizations when they consistently trust the people they work for, have pride in what they do and enjoy the people they work with.”
This demonstrates what I passionately believe and teach: leaders must put the human element and the total enterprise at the forefront of strategy and daily actions. Over the years, my colleagues and I have helped many leaders realize that they can have it all, but first they need a holistic plan that paves a way for sustainable change and improvement.
For those aspiring to emulate these best places to work, change and improvement are not an easy task and are not often implemented with the human element in mind, and even when they are, it’s artificial. Consider managing conflict inside a large system. Managing agreements and conflicts with peers across organizational boundaries, with outside stakeholders, and within your team, is a foundational expectation of the 21st-century organizational leader.
But imagine you are a person being managed by an effective leader. As you interact, this leader makes you feel bigger than you felt before your conversation. This leader magnifies you. You might start the conversation seeing yourself in a 5×7 photo frame, but after talking with a masterful leader, you see yourself in an 8×10 frame—or larger. Even though you’re a leader, it’s not all about you. Instead, it’s about doing what’s best for people, not what’s easiest for you. It’s about encouraging people to achieve more than what they believe is possible. It’s about inspiring folks to question and overcome their doubts. And, it’s about paying special attention to peoples’ personal needs for achievement and development as you show them caring, compassion, and empathy.
When leaders consciously attend to individuals’ needs for development and communicate a compelling plan of action, their people will step forward with clarity, commitment, and energy to make it happen. Leaders—at every level—can adjust their mental stances, calibrate their hearts, and tap into their full leadership potential. Experience and research show that great solutions to organizational problems start with leaders who inspire trust and communicate effectively. The more fully employees are aware of an organization’s direction, the more they will align their own choices with that direction.
The path to high performing enterprises, where people want to come to work, is a path on which leaders demonstrably care about their employees. On this path, the leader’s every thought, word, and deed counts. In the end, meaningful leadership is driven to fruition by thinking, speaking, and acting from the heart as a catalyst for results.
Congratulations to the companies who have carefully attended to the human element in their organizations, and have received this Best Place to Work recognition. Well deserved!