Organizations like Southwest Airlines, Chick-fil-A, WD-40, and Wegman’s have all enjoyed long term success in part because of an unwavering commitment to their employees in both good times and bad.
What traits do the leaders at these organizations have in common? Three things—they are bearers of hope; they treat their people as their business partners; and they see their role as serving others.
- Bearers of hope. Especially in tough times, leaders at great companies keep on sending out positive messages. That doesn’t mean that they turn their back on the truth or the present reality. But they are optimistic.
- Treat people as business partners. If you want people to be on your side you have to respect them. That means sharing information with them and involving them in decisions. Leaders need their people to trust in them and believe that the organization “means them no harm.” If employees don’t trust leaders, they spend their time looking up the organizational hierarchy instead of focusing on the customer.
- See your role as a servant leader. Leaders in great companies see their role as supporting the people closest to the customer. Once strategy is set, these leaders turn the organizational pyramid upside-down so everyone focuses on serving the people that are serving the customer.
Look to your leaders to create a more tenacious and resilient organization. Are they modeling these behaviors?
Companies that deal best with tough times don’t forget that the key to their success is maintaining a productive and motivating environment for their people. While other companies may be tempted to temporarily shift their focus to look exclusively at the bottom line, great companies don’t forget that without their people taking care of their customers they wouldn’t be in business.