Leadership today is about giving people a voice so they can think for themselves. It is not just about getting people to follow. (Hatley, 2015, “4 Generations @ Work”)
One of the most powerful things a leader can do to inspire people to commitment and engagement is to ask them for their thoughts, then listen to understand. Asking people for their thoughts, then listening to understand is the ultimate demonstration of trust and respect.
When we reference “leaders” we also mean “managers” as managers must know how to lead people. To succeed today, organizations should hire and train managers for leadership ability first, management abilities second. People skills are that important.
In conducting my research, I learned that there are “Three Things all People Want” (Hatley, 2014): To be valued and respected for their uniqueness; to know they are making a difference—that they matter; and love. Love is the greatest of human needs. If the basic needs in life are met, all people regardless of socio-economic status, age, gender, position, or anything else, want and need these three things.
Considering this, it goes without saying one can more easily inspire people to a higher level of engagement, commitment, and nurture trust by tapping into these three basic human needs. One thing we forget is that people are not mere numbers on a corporate organizational chart or “things.” People are living beings with souls, hopes, dreams and desires–human beings. Humans do not respond to being treated as “things.”
Put people first and everything else will fall into place.
When you give people a voice, then listen to understand, you tap into all three things people need to feel valued and respected, regardless of the group they are a member of.
To give people a voice, it is important to “ask” them for their thoughts, then “listen to understand.” The “Power of Ask!”
The “Power of Ask” is the reciprocal value one receives from the simple act of inclusion by asking them for their thoughts, then “listening to understand.” Give people a voice! There is no price tag you can place on your return on investment of time in leveraging your people’s uniqueness by helping them find their voices, then use them.
Everyone has thoughts, ideas and experiences that, most often, are unique to each person. Everyone has an inner desire to share these thoughts with others. People want their voices heard. They have a need to know that what they think adds value to the team’s success.
Furthermore, inclusion is crucial to success, more so than any time in history. Why? Younger generations expect diversity and “inclusion” in the workplace, place of worship, and community. They also want to work in an autonomous environment which gives them the freedom to express their opinions. They want a voice. When these preferences are not present and their needs are not met, they exit.
These generations have spent their lifetime literally interacting with the world via the internet, connecting and developing relationships with people around the world. The Millennials and the Plurals (born after 1997) are being called the most racially and diversity-oriented groups of people in history. They have no diversity issues unless taught.
What happens when peoples’ voices are suppressed—any age, ethnic group, etc? Trust erodes or cannot be developed. People become frustrated and angry. People do not collaborate. People do not innovate or learn. Empowerment cannot occur. Customer experience suffers. Talented people exit often going straight to your competitor. Costs increase and performance suffers.
Turnover of people increases an organization’s cost of doing business significantly. Young people are not loyal to any organization, but they can be loyal to people they trust. Trust must be earned.
Stop the loss spiral! Give people a voice. Include all people! Learn how to leverage the “Power of Ask” and teach all your people, especially your front-line leaders who directly impact the people who interact daily with your customers every day. Your front-line employees can be inspired; or they can be oppressed. Make sure they are inspired.
How you treat your people has a direct impact on how they treat customers. This impacts everything: customer acquisition, customer experience, and retention. Bottom line; it impacts the bottom line.
“Inspired leadership elevates everything!”
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