Your People Leadership – why bother? People Leadership and, more specifically, getting the best from your people is my all-time favourite topic.
Most colleges and universities do not have a “how to be a great leader, how to be an amazing boss and how to get your ordinary people to do extraordinary things” set of leadership courses on the curriculum. These topics are often covered in ‘personal development’ courses – however, with precious little real-life workable solutions. And we all know that in the workplace, there are only a handful of decent real people leadership mentors.
So against that rather bleak backdrop, you have every right to wonder why I believe People Leadership is paramount. The simple answer is I set out to become the Leader I always wanted to mentor me. And the reasons I had 30 years ago are still pretty relevant today.
Your People Leadership – why bother?
I think it is safe to say that over the past decade, our health systems have deteriorated. To the point that today, we all know we are living with a health crisis, don’t we? The costs are high, the wait times longer, and the list of items completely covered gets shorter every year. (I won’t even add the COVID crisis on top of this). The gradual demise of the health system is too familiar, in most countries, in some form or another.
Do you know that there is a magnetic driver behind our health crisis? It is rarely discussed – at least in public. Somewhere between 70% and 80% of all illnesses are chronic. Yessiree. Quite simply, our medical system is overwhelmed because its primary job has morphed into predominately taking care of chronic diseases.
A chronic illness/disease is defined as one that occurs over a long period of time and also takes a long time to (perhaps) fix. For example, heart attacks, strokes, cancer, obesity, diabetes, COPD and even bad oral health all fall into the “chronic” category. Notice, I have not yet added mental illness to this list. These stats are two years old, and today, the classification of some mental illness could very well now fall under “chronic.”
Do you know what the main driver is behind these chronic illnesses? STRESS!
Stress is a human-made phenomenon. Humans were never built for stress. And everyone’s most significant stressor begins in the workplace.
Most of us work 8 -12 hours a day with the same supervisor and the same group of people. On any given day, most of us do nine things brilliantly and one thing poorly. Under most circumstances, we all shrug off our mistakes and carry on. However, in far too many work environments, we are chewed out or worse, disciplined for that single transgression. And the fact we accomplished nine or more pieces of perfection? Well, that falls into the “that’s what we were hired to do” category. So they all get ignored.
Most of us have ideas for improvement in the specific areas we work. Yet, for so many, bringing up the topic of improvement means we are immediately berated, shut down, told to stay in our lane, and ordered not to rock the boat. Also, the incidences of sexism, racism, ageism and workplace bullying we all watch and endure have not significantly diminished over the last 50-60 years.
Think about this for a minute. If we work 8 – 12 hours a day, five out of seven days a week, 48-50 weeks a year for 30 to 40 years, IN THIS KIND OF ENVIRONMENT, how high is our stress level? Is it any wonder the chronic illness statistic is so high? Why are we still surprised that so many people no longer give a crap about their work?
Is it any wonder why people who are not given credit for their brilliant bits, not allowed to speak their mind, or contribute, not paid sufficient money or benefits, let alone be allowed to try to earn incentives, and who are banned from participating in decisions, become so ill, become so miserable to their family members, and become so jaded?
I think not.
Human beings are hard-wired for social connection, community, joy and love. Human beings were never designed to be the dumping ground, the mere garbage can or the container holding toxic contaminants for the workplace.
So many people are up in arms about the state of the world today. And so many people want to make a difference. One way that I know has a massive positive impact is to be a solid people leader. Not only is it the best way to reduce medical costs, increase mankind’s longevity, address and remove the nasty isms in our current world, it is also the absolute best way to produce extraordinary results in our enterprises and smooth out the social inequities.
All this goodness means simultaneously, the old way of command and control must die, and the new way of collaboration and respect be immediately embraced.
More specifically, we need to treat our employees, our colleagues, our customers and our suppliers precisely the same way we treat our spouses and family and friends. Frankly, this can feel outrageously scary.
Next month, I will share with you some ways to become one of the best people persons. And honestly, it is not nearly as difficult as you might think.