Believe, love, do.
Could business leadership be a three-step process? No. It is an art and there are a million confounding situations. But all leadership requires these three basic elements for your employees to embrace you, your company, and your vision.
What leadership isn’t
Leadership is more than just barking out orders. This is the image we get from war movies portraying crusty sergeants, and sitcoms with self-centered bosses. Yes, you can do this, but it doesn’t last because your employees won’t stay.
Instead, leadership is about believing in your people, caring for their welfare, and setting the right example. Believe, love, do. Repeat.
How committed are you to things in which you do not believe, be they politicians, alternate theologies, or even global climate change? If you don’t believe, you cannot commit.
You must first believe in your employees and in the functions they perform. If you don’t you will not invest the time and patience to nurture them as people or improve their functioning in their roles. Key to believing in your employees is trust. Trusting them to do their job is inherent in being a good leader.
This last point is critical as a lack of trust is always reciprocated. If you do not trust your people, they learn to not trust you.
To love someone means to care deeply for them and their well-being. This comes naturally when we think of parents, spouses, children and friends. Loving employees takes a little extra effort because the quid pro quo nature of employment pre-establishes certain attitudes.
The single best approach to making the workplace and yourself loving toward employees is to make the workplace like home: a safe place for them to be. “Safe” has many facets, but in a work environment it means free from anger, fear, resentment as well as being accepted and cared for.
In terms of caring, your mission of love revolves around employee welfare. You must treat them fairly: a consistent application of rules, overall fair pay, good benefits, flexibility to their non-work needs. It also involves eliminating condescending language because nobody, not even your dog, likes being talked down to.
There is a truism that says children learn by the examples their parents set. The same applies in the office or on the factory floor.
You set the example, tone and direction for the entire company. When you are optimistic, love your employees, and generate harmony, your staff follows suit. Then their teams do as well. Soon enough, all employees from the janitorial staff to the C-Suite treat one another as family and strive for mutually ensured success.
Kindness and humility are the hallmarks of a good leader. When you train yourself to be kind and to be humble, it will reflect in everything you do, including how you view and treat employees. Kindness and humility enable you to believe, love and do.