I grew up in a household that was supported by a small business. My grandfather went into business for himself shortly after returning from WWII, and never looked back. At the time he retired, he had been in business for himself for about 60 years. He had even moved his business when his health began to decline and was told to go to a warmer and drier climate, so he packed up my grandmother and their kids, and moved them all to Chandler, Arizona in 1960. When I came along and started to understand what was happening in day to day life, it was now the 1980’s. My grandfather’s television and radio repair and sales store was thriving and successful. He had an employee or two for most of the store’s life, or a member of the family helped out. I grew up as the kid sitting next to the workbench. Watching him mess with wires and tubes and all these electronic gadgets to repair what was a big expense for a lot of people at the time. He worked out of the shop and made house calls. Those were my favorite when I got to go with! Everyone in town knew him, and most of the time customers were kind, and even when they weren’t, my grandfather still was. He was good to his employees, he was good to his customers, and he did this six days a week from 9am-6pm Monday through Friday, and 9am-12pm on Saturdays. He worked. He hustled. He was wonderfully successful and respected by almost everyone. I try to remember how he treated people most, as I see kindness as being a giant strength to your successes. Especially when you lead people.
Recently I came across a blog of an entrepreneur that absolutely made my skin crawl. This person had major awards and accomplishments under their belt, but the words in their blogs showed exactly how horrible and tyrannical of a leader they actually are. As I read through their blog, two things glaringly stood out to me. First, there’s an entire piece on the saying “People don’t leave jobs, they leave managers” and in their words, they believe that to be “horse shit”. That, coupled with another blog about how they will “knock (employees) heads together” if you as a customer weren’t satisfied, was also alarming. Just in those two statements alone, I can see that this person is out of touch with their staff and modern ideas of business and leadership. Gone by the wayside are the days where you manage people with fear. Violence, or even the suggestion of violence, (as was indicated by “knocking heads together”) being stated in a very public way indicates this person has zero emotional intelligence for their employees. Yes, maybe there was an unhappy customer, maybe it was a bad night, maybe it was a horrid staff member. But insinuating violence? Not okay. Then, when the staff’s morale is at an all time low from their heads being “knocked”, to poo-poo that people leave due to poor management (or owners) also shows that they have zero concern, or respect for their staff. If a staff member quits because they got tired of the constant Queen of Hearts “off with their heads!” message, apparently, it actually has nothing to do with them and how they choose to run their business and treat their staff. It’s a laundry list of other reasons. So, this leader, this entrepreneur, not only lacks kindness but also any self-awareness, and averts any responsibility. Success for this leader wasn’t an issue, they had that, but at what price? How much more successful could they be if they just portrayed and understood a fraction of emotional intelligence? What additional directions and successes could their overall business see?
I’ve been in leadership and management for over a decade, and have done so in several different industries. As a leader, you’re there to ensure that the people who report to you are successful. That they are happy, they feel challenged, they grow, and that you get things out of their way so they can really shine. Sometimes, that thing in the way is you.