A recent Forbes article revealed that 65% percent of people would rather have a different boss than a raise. Take that in for a moment, people would trade money for a better boss.
When I was 25 years old, my father shared something with me that forever altered my perspective on leadership. I had just been promoted to my first manager position at Procter & Gamble. I called my father to give him the good news. “Congratulations,” he said, “You’ve just become the second most important person in the life of your employees.” “What do you mean?” I asked. He explained, “Next to your spouse, your boss has the power to make your life wonderful or miserable.”
At the time, his comment petrified me. At the ripe old age of 25, half my team was twice my age. I was scared to death because I knew my father was right. Think about your bosses and the impact they’ve had on you.
Your boss is a presence at the family dinner table, in conversations with your friends, with your parents. When I was a kid we talked about my Dad’s boss Mr. Keck almost every night. I knew when he was in a good mood or bad mood. I knew about his family. My mother was a schoolteacher, I knew about her principals, the good ones and the bad. I even knew about the time one of them had a breakdown when she was getting divorced.
If you’re the boss, you’re a looming presence in the lives of your people, whether you like it or not. You have the power to create happiness, or misery.
After working with thousands of employees and leaders, I can tell you, the one mantra that will make you a better boss: Be all in.
People want a boss who cares, and who isn’t shy about showing it. Great leaders don’t shy away from emotion. They love their job, they love their customers, and they love their team. And they’re not afraid to let everyone know it. For them, business is personal. They don’t shy away from difficult conversations. They care enough to address the tough stuff, head on. They give direct feedback. Great leaders are attuned to the emotional undercurrents of their organization. They’re not perfect, but their team knows their passion comes from their belief in a cause bigger than themselves.
As a leader, you’re the one who tells your people whether this is just a job, or whether their work actually matters. For great leaders, work is more than just a transaction; it’s a chance to make a difference in the lives of other people. They build a tribe of True Believers because they’re all in.
I wrote “Leading With Noble Purpose” to help leaders emotionally engage with their people. It’s a call for today’s leaders to become the kind of leaders a team wants to follow.
As the late Maya Angelou said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget the way you made them feel.”
Your team is going to talk about you at their dinner tables whether you like it or not.
You can be the leader whose team experienced their work as just a grind. Or you can be the leader whose people say, “She really cares.”
The choice is yours.