As a leader, the reality is that most of the other people in your organization will not get to know you very well. This is likely to be true even in smaller organizations. Most of your employees will not be directly reporting to you or be able to have lengthy one-on-one meetings with you. Instead, they will learn about you based on what they hear from others or base it on a single and very brief exchange they had with you as you walked down the hall. Regardless of how they go about formulating their opinion of you, it is important that they see that you are acting in a way that is consistent with the values and norms of the organization.
This begs the question: how do you generally treat people? Or, more specifically: how do you treat the people you rarely see or come into contact to, but who help keep your organization running smoothly? I once read that the best way to judge a person is to see how he or she treats the wait staff at a restaurant. Is he or she bossy? Demanding? Friendly? Compassionate? How does he or she react when the food comes out late, or their order is incorrect, or the food is not cooked well? How does he or she get the wait staff’s attention? If you are authentic and consistent, how you treat someone outside your organization (e.g., a waiter or waitress) should be very similar to how you treat an employee.
As a leader, your every action (or inaction) has consequences. This is especially true in smaller organizations, where the leaders’ actions directly contribute to the company culture (in academia, this is known as “imprinting”). Moreover, every person in your organization affects its overall performance. An engineer helps to build the next generation of products that will generate revenue for the firm. A manufacturing technician helps to build those products. A salesperson helps keep relationships with customers strong and works to bring in new customers. A financial analyst makes sure that money is being allocated in the most efficient way possible within the firm. An administrative assistant keeps things running smoothly at all levels of the organization. A janitor keeps the office clean and stocked with important supplies – like hand soap and toilet paper. Everyone plays a part in the organization’s effectiveness and everyone should be valued as an important part of the organization.
Dr. Atul Teckchandani
CSUF Entrepreneurship Professor