While I’ve only worked for a handful of truly inspiring leaders in my life, what this small group all shared was a deep belief in themselves and their abilities. They were extremely comfortable in their own skins and embodied a form of self confidence that repelled any and all fear of others succeeding at their expense.
As I think back on these unique people, I realize now that I could feel that they weren’t competing with me on any level. The supportive energy they were putting out made me – on some unconscious level – feel safe and thereby encouraged to be my natural self at work, to trust my own creativity, and to seek ways of helping the organization succeed.
The obvious trait all these leaders displayed was a desire to see their employees grow, develop, and to contribute to their greatest potential. As a result, the working environments they created were designed to ensure workers thrived.
The vast majority of managers I’ve worked for, however, were nowhere near as secure in themselves. Concerned that the accomplishments of their employees could somehow outshine or diminish them, they found ways – often subtle – to limit people. And because they feared the repercussions of giving away their power to others, they greatly constrained the performance of the teams they led.
The Dalai Lama has said that having compassion for oneself is the basis for developing care and concern for others. To clarify, he said that friendliness toward ourselves leads to unlimited care toward others.
There have been lots of reports lately suggesting that many people believe they work for a really bad boss.
Whether or not that’s true for you today, it’s quite likely that you’ve worked for someone during your career who displayed abominable leadership skills and made your life unnecessarily miserable.
So, think of your worst boss ever and see if they were as bad as mine.
Two decades ago, the bank I worked for failed. I had an opportunity afterwards to move a hundred miles away for a job – something I really didn’t want to do – or to stay in my home town and change industries.
I took the local position and remember asking myself at the time “how bad could it be?”
My new boss was the President of a company his recently-deceased dad had founded. It was a tough economy at the time and executive-level jobs were scarce. Because of this fact, I suppose, I ignored early signs in the interview process that should have alerted me to the problems that lay ahead.
For starters, the guy who previously held the job I was going for refused to talk to me about his experience at the firm. That he lasted only six months before bolting should have been a sign.
Once I was offered the job, my boss required we have a contract. Specifically spelled out was that I had to work a minimum of 10 hours every day and that he could fire me at will. That he was seemingly already thinking of letting me go also should have been a sign.
In order to become a truly magnificent leader – and to consistently lead with and from your heart – it’s crucial you never forget that the employees you manage and supervise are human beings.
Something so obvious tends to easily get lost in the workplace – otherwise I wouldn’t be making a point of emphasizing it.
Even more important to remember is that your workers (as humans) have essential needs – and it’s your job as the leader to help ensure they get met.
Why is it your responsibility to help your employees meet all these needs?
Because satisfying them is what drives and motivates the highest ambition and initiative. By purposely and intentionally helping your employees to fulfill their needs, you’ll naturally inspire the most extraordinary engagement and productivity.
I recently saw author, Tony Robbins, give a brief presentation on Ted.com titled “Why We Do What We Do.” Based on the seminal work of psychologist Abraham Maslow, Robbins says modern day human motivation is tied to meeting six fundamental needs.
I’d like to share Robbins’ list with you and offer some brief suggestions on how you can help your employees fulfill them: