The Curious Leader
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The Curious Leader

The New Leader’s Guide to Generating Loyalty

Why Would Super Star Players Turn Down More Money to Stay With You?

Marc sat across from me; he ran a finger along his stylish stubble as he told me about all the great offers he had on the table. One company was willing to nearly double his salary and another offered a fantastic retirement program. Yet another would guarantee him a C-suite slot within 18 months.

“So what’s the problem?” I asked. “Clearly any one of these would be an amazing next step in your career.”

Marc took a deep breath and avoided eye contact by looking out the window. “I don’t really know.” With all my years of experience, I could hear the subtext of what was being said by tone of his voice, but I let him continue for a moment longer. “I can’t make up my mind,” he finally said.

As an advisor and guide I’m rather well known for not letting my clients fool themselves. I always push for them to acknowledge their inner truth. “Yes you can,” I said firmly. “You know what you want to do. Why are you afraid to admit it?”

When Marc looked back at me, I saw, not the highly successful 38 year old Millennial he normally presented, but rather a frightened and embarrassed little boy. “It’s dumb, really, I mean, it doesn’t make sense.”

“Marc, I’m not here to judge you. I’m here to assist you being at your best and that means being true to yourself. What doesn’t make sense?”

He looked down at his hands for a minute before continuing. “I don’t really want to leave the job I have. It doesn’t pay as much as the others and it certainly doesn’t guarantee me the kind of future, but…”

“But what?”

“ I feel,” he hesitated. “…Like they care,” he blurted out, almost ashamed. I waited for him to continue. “I mean, well, like when I got sick, my boss actually called me at home, not to rag on me but to tell me not to worry, to just get better. And at Christmas, we all get individual cards from him. Do you know what was in mine?”

I shook my head. “Hockey tickets. He knows that I love hockey so he got me hockey tickets. He does that sort of thing for everyone on his team. I mean, he even got Jennifer, my assistant, a bottle of her favorite perfume. What boss knows what kind of perfume someone wears?”

“ Sounds like he’s a great leader,” I said. “I can see why you would be hesitant to leave…even for a better position.”

Marc’s boss is a great example of the kind of new leader that is necessary in today’s business world. Millennials like Marc typically stay at a job for no more than four years, and often much less. All too often the minute they put their things in a desk, they are looking around for another, better opportunity.

So what makes the difference?

How can you keep your top talent from turning your HR department into a high-speed revolving door?

In a word: Loyalty!

Is There A Practical Equation for Loyalty?

In a time when employers often complain about employees being disengaged, entitled, and disloyal, there are companies whose employees are the antithesis of that. Take a look at the corporate culture in organizations like Zappo’s, Patagonia, and even LuluLemon. Here you will find employees who are paid no more (sometimes less) than the industry standard. The employees of companies that have, as we call a “Momentum Culture” put in overtime and work on projects without pay because they feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves…they have a bond with the organization. What’s more is these employees are fiercely loyal, meaning they are proud to be part of the organization and often actively proselytize for it.

It is only in the last ten to fifteen years that companies have begun to truly grasp the importance of brand loyalty and as such have pushed billions of dollars into creating brand recognition. All the while, these companies forget to notice the power of such loyalty when applied to their own employees.

So we ask again: How do we stop the revolving door?The answer is clear. By doing just what Marc’s current boss is doing — Caring! Getting to know and just as importantly care about your employees as individuals is what generates loyalty. The fact that Marc’s boss knew he loved hockey or another employee had a special perfume doesn’t require the spying talents of a James Bond. All it takes is spending some time with your people, listening to them and asking a few questions. In short, treating people like people, not exchangeable commodities.

Science has shown us that we are hard-wired to bond with others. We want…no, we NEED…to feel connected. When that fundamental basic need is being met, many other things drop off in significance…like higher paychecks and better parking spots.

Why do you think that people like Dr. Kent Brantly, the first Ebola victim on American soil, go off and volunteer with organizations like Doctors Without Borders? Certainly not for the money, and while there is the possibility of fame from contacting a deadly disease, that’s hardly motivation for any sane person.

It’s because they feel, at the very core of their being, that what they are doing matters and they themselves are important and valued.

What does this mean for you and your leadership?

It means despite your present title you must also become a CRO (chief relationship Officer). This means, and pardon my language, you will need to get off your butt and out from the shadow of your title, and mingle with the people who work for you. And no, that doesn’t mean just the C-suite executives with whom you share a bathroom. It means everyone from the receptionist at the front desk to the janitor who comes in after hours. Yes, I said everyone and I meant it. If you work in an industry with a production line, get your butt down there and meet the people who make your products. It doesn’t matter if it takes you a year to meet everyone face-to-face, I guarantee that they won’t forget it and the very fact you took the time to see them as people will make a huge difference in your entire business.

You may still be asking why. Well, the science behind it is simple: every single human being needs to know that they are seen, needed, and valued. If you can do that, if in some way you can personally make every single person who works for you knows that they are seen, needed, and valued you will be shocked at how quickly that revolving door will slow down to a barely noticeable spin.

Yes, I know this takes time, and I can hear some of you complaining that you don’t have enough time as it is. But tell me this? Do you want to generate greater loyalty in your organization? How much time does your company lose training and retraining top people because they leave after six months, a year, or even two?

Yes, this also means you are going to have to get out of your comfort zone and let people see you as you are. And yes, that also means that some of your faults might become more visible. But that means that you will be seen as more human, someone who can be trusted to care for the people who work for you.

It is going to take some work and some real effort on your part, and you probably aren’t going to always enjoy it. But the payoff will be as real and tangible as Marc, who chose to stay with the company he was at, despite several better offers simply because he was loyal to a boss who didn’t give him tickets to a football game, but to a hockey match simply because he bothered to find out that Marc loved hockey.

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Dov Baron has been twice named to both Inc. Magazine Top 100 Leadership Speaker, and one of the Top 30 Global Leadership Guru’s. He’s an independent contributor to numerous outlets including Entrepreneur Magazine. Dov Baron is a bestselling author of One Red Thread and Fiercely Loyal: How High Performing Companies Develop and Retain Top Talent.

He is honoured to have presented to the United Nations, The World Management Forum in Iran, and The Servant Leadership Institute. He guides and advises high powered leaders with regard to creating meaningful impact and influence to the change makers. Go here to get started.

Copyright: Dov Baron International 2021

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