I recently listened to the CEO of a highly successful global manufacturing company. He was the keynote speaker at a function I attended. When asked what he attributed his organization’s success to, he responded, “I put my people first. I loved my people!”

The United States-based company had not always been successful. During a time when manufacturing moved off shore and big-box retail began dominating the marketplace with low-cost merchandise, the company nearly folded.

In trying to save his family business, the organization’s fourth-generation leader first looked inside to assess what made the company different than their competitors.  They focused on quality and began marketing themselves for the quality of their merchandise. They became globally successful based on this defining difference.

But, the young CEO was quick to say, “Without the people, the organization is nothing.” He recognized that the people made his company what it is. He changed the culture from that of an Industrial Age, top-down, authoritative, controlling environment, to a warm, friendly, fun, love-based culture. He said he simply showed love to his employees because, “regardless what our strategic plan looks like, without our people, it is worthless. “

He gave his people a voice. What do you want?   How can we do this together? What do you think? The power of ‘ask’. There is zero tolerance for disrespect for people. The workplace disputes and strife ended. “Everyone matters and it takes everyone to succeed.” He established a health program, including setting up a gym on site, including a trainer to conduct exercise programs. Not all employees participated, but all had a choice.

He created a culture of love and respect for all people. He became the people’s servant. “I am just a team member who wants to do everything I can to help my people succeed.”  “How can I help you today?” became a mantra.

In today’s Knowledge Worker Age, organizational and community success depends on your ability to inspire your people to full engagement.   Your success depends on your ability to create an empowered culture.  Your people are your most valuable asset, not machines and things.

Leadership today requires compassion, empathy, and integrity, as well as the courage to do the right thing even when the world says different. Leaders serve!

The foundation of the Industrial Age leadership model is “to get people to follow.” To control people!

You don’t want people to “follow;” you want people to think for themselves. You want empowered people.   The belief is that a true Knowledge Worker Age culture can outperform an Industrial Age culture 50%.

How?   Because your people are thinking and making decisions on their own instead of waiting to be told what to do, how to do it, and when to do it! And, they are “inspired” instead of oppressed which was dominantly the case in most Industrial Age cultures, and still is today for the most part. Love inspires. Hate oppresses.

The young leader saw the importance of his people to his organization’s success, and he simply loved his people. Love is the greatest of human needs. If you create a culture that aspires to tapping into human need, you unleash human potential. You create energy that is difficult to shut down. Your people will work tirelessly to ensure the organization’s success, and their individual success.

© Patricia Hatley. All rights reserved.