Show People How Much They Matter

An excerpt from Zingerman’s Guide to Good Leading, Part 4: A Lapsed Anarchist’s Approach to The Power of Beliefs in Business, Secret #45.

One of the first responsibilities we have as hope-building leaders is to demonstrate daily to everyone in the organization how much we value them for who they are. Taking time to learn their story—where they’re from, what their family life is like, what they want for their future, what sort of music they listen to, what they do when they’re not at work—helps us honor them as the unique creative individuals they are. Asking how their significant other is, inquiring how their kids are doing in school, or discovering their favorite food (assuming we listen attentively to their answers) may seem minor, but it can have a major impact.

Hope levels go up every time that we as leaders actively envision each person we hire as a potentially great contributor. As Pulitzer Prize–winning Native American author N. Scott Momaday says, “We are what we imagine. Our very existence consists in our imagination of ourselves. Our best destiny is to imagine, at least, completely, who and what, and that we are. The greatest tragedy that can befall us is to go unimagined.” Many people are viewed by their boss as a pain in the organizational ass, an interchangeable part hired to fill a long-term hole, or maybe as a moderately competent role player. I try to do the opposite—I imagine them as amazing. I want to help find the artist in everyone we hire: to inspire them to greatness and help them find their passion and their power. Everyone wants to matter. And I believe they do.

How we do it here: appreciations, Service Star awards, orientation classes, Bottom Line Change, open-book finance, open meetings, stewardship, Servant Leadership, 3 Steps to Giving Great Service, 5 Steps to Effectively Handling a Complaint, and authorizing everyone to do whatever they need to make things right for a guest.

Zingerman’s Guide to Good Leading: The Power of Beliefs in Business

Secret 45: A Six-Pointed Hope Star

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