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Introduction to The Truth About Getting the Best from People

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This chapter is from the book


As a people leader, your job is simple: You are the link between organizational mission-critical objectives and the effort your employees invest in achieving those objectives. And you just have to keep those two pieces working together smoothly. See? Easy.

Yeah, right. As a people leader, your job is to inspire your employees to bring their personal greatness to work every day and to invest their best in your business. And that’s a hard job. It’s an emotional roller coaster. You experience the exquisite highs of engagement and teamwork when everyone is pulling together. Your heart breaks when you have to make really tough decisions that negatively affect the personal lives and well-being of people you truly care about. And it can be absolutely frightening when you’re dealing with hair-trigger personalities who really don’t belong in a safe workplace.

But even more routinely—and just as challenging, if not more so—you have to deal with yourself and your beliefs about life, about people, and about motivation and trust. Every day. Even on the ho-hum days. And that’s when we get down to some pretty simple principles. Although this book by no means trivializes all the behaviors and beliefs that go into bringing out the greatness in your employees, the material you’ll discover in these pages is based on a few very accessible assumptions:

  • People leaders discover that leading is impossible when they forget that they’re people first. It may be paradoxical, but nothing makes a person come face to face with real—or perceived—limitations faster than a promotion into a managerial spot. On the outside, you may be projecting, “Can do!” (or at least hoping you are), but on the inside, you may be saying, “Uh oh, what have I gotten myself into?” Your first managerial assignment? Manage yourself into keeping in mind that you’re not expected to be perfect. You’re just expected to reach a little further for some brand new stretch goals.
  • Most people want to do good work in a job they love. Marketing consultant (and former Senior Vice President of Marketing for Starbucks) Scott Bedbury speaks about what he calls the “Five Human Truths.” We need to be understood, feel special, feel as though we belong, feel that we’re in control, and know that we have the chance to reach our potential. Although these feelings may not necessarily be what we want from a cup of coffee, they’re certainly what we want almost universally from the work we do. (But ask me at 4 in the morning when I’m cranking against deadlines, and I might have a different answer for you.)
  • Great people leaders don’t have to be clever, complicated, politically astute, or even especially wise. But they do have to be kind, honest, focused, positive, and authentic. If your company is committed to supporting you as you cultivate a grounded, authentic, compelling leadership style, you will see first-hand that creating great employees isn’t about being magically charismatic. It’s about being you.
  • There is no u in team, but there should be. As a people leader, you’re also a team member. Sometimes you’re the coach; in fact, you might often think of yourself in the top leadership spot. But you’re also the water carrier. It’s been said that great leaders are servants. And if your team is working so well and independently that all they need is a regular infusion of refreshment, that’s a great position for you to play.

Enjoy this book. When you learn that creating great employees can be fun and personally rewarding, the first great employee you’ll create will be yourself.

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