People like to say that every single person counts in their business, but how many of them actually act this principle out? I can tell you right now: hardly any.

The widely accepted unspoken “executive playbook” states that leaders should create the perception that they care. But do executives actually care about their employees? Of course not! Caring enough to accept that each person matters is a sign of weakness—why would any business leader admit a weakness?

Instead, we convince ourselves we’re “too busy” to even talk to people on an individual basis, let alone care about every individual person.

Under this school of thought, the higher you get on the organizational chart, the smarter you are, and therefore the less you need from your employees. Your attitude toward others is that you’ve been there, done that, and you don’t need to hear another person complain about some small problem that doesn’t concern you. You’ve heard it all!

But that’s all completely wrong.

The truth is: even if you’re the CEO for a 10,000-person company, you don’t have a single employee. You work with other human beings, and they all have the same basic needs and wants that you do.

For some reason, though, you got it into your head that you have employees. Saying you have employees implies a separation from them, and ownership. That’s a load of crap!

For so many of us, living in a state of separation was learned over time. Some of us have eventually forgotten who we actually are. We have lost our connection to all of life and to the wisdom that we are woven together. After years of practicing separation, we see “other” people as less than ourselves.

If this describes you, then you’re actively hurting your business.

One of my friends has been working to improve how world trades are managed. She is a powerhouse! Her relentless approach to creating the right solution to solve the actual problem is rare.

Despite the rarity of her skills, she has managed to surround herself with people who have earned the same Ivy League degrees as her and who have (theoretically) the same skills as she does.

What she’s learned over the years is how many of her peers and bosses cover up their lack of knowledge through bravado. They “made it” by leveraging people, rather than working with them. This perception of people in your business as someone other than or less thanyou is one of the silent killers of business potential.

Engaging with People: Your Best Investment

The time it takes to engage with each person with a sense of wonder is invaluable.

Whether or not people give you new insights is almost incidental. The fact that you’re receptive to them as people will make them more likely to provide value to the company. If you’re in a constant dialogue with people, ready to play around with ideas and probe each thought to find out what’s behind it, you will find value.

The ideas you find may not become a “cost savings” or a system-wide opportunity to streamline the customer experience, but if you don’t do this on a routine basis, you will never get to the hidden gems that people have inside of them.

This practice of being present with every single person you are working with, and making sure you move around the company to engage with people you once ignored or avoided, will change your life, the life of your business, the lives of the people you work with.

For more on employee relations, pick-up a copy of my book: Unlearning Leadership-Know Yourself, Grow Your Business

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