Business Team Giving One Another High Five

“96% of job seekers say they are likely to read online reviews of a workplace by its current employees before accepting a job offer,” wrote Allyson Willoughby in Leadership Now.

She was writing about offices where people love coming to work. What reviews would your workplace receive? If it is a place where leaders focus on people, I think they would be positive.

The qualities of people-focused leaders are many, but let me suggest a few that should be at the top of the list. First, people focused leaders aren’t afraid to leave the office. They know they can learn more about a team by working alongside it than by working independently from it—or above it. Key motivators for learning often come from conversation pop-ups in the lunch room as well as in the workroom.

A second quality of people-focused leaders is found in the way they handle criticism–up or down. They know that criticism comes with the territory, but they use it to increase their leadership skills, not to create shields. They also know how to turn their critiques of team members into construction projects. To them, evaluation is a tool, not a weapon.

Third, people-focused leaders learn to recognize the “best that can be done” by a team member. They remember when they too were new to a job or faced challenges above their skill level. They filter mistakes through employee training offered or instructions given. They look for best practices in the team member’s other areas, such as promptness, attention, teamwork, and learning motivation.

Fourth, they speak the “we” language. Written across the warm-up shirts of University of Michigan basketball players in the 2014 NCAA Tournament was the phrase, “WE WORK.” The message was clear: Teamwork is “We” work, not “You” or “Me.” It’s the same off the court. The wins of an organization are due in part to leadership, but the people-focused leader makes sure the team receives equal or even top billing.

Be a people-focused leader. You’ll be amazed by the reviews.

–Stan Toler