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  • Writer's picturejoel

The 5 Things Every Employee Needs from Their Leader, or They Will Stop Following Them

Updated: Dec 25, 2021

John Maxwell said, “He who thinks he leads, but has no followers, is only taking a walk.” If you can’t influence others, they won’t follow you.”

Back in the day

A hundred years ago, times were quite different. Jobs were harder to come by. Resources were scarcer, jobs were valued and coveted. A well-paying job was hard to find and rarely abandoned by anyone who understood the privilege that came with it. Employers held all the cards and were leveraged. Finding help generally was not difficult back then for employers, as the number of jobs were less than the number of people that desired to have one. The unemployment rate was higher, as was poverty.

The Triangle Has Flipped

Today, while our economy is certainly better than the decades of the great depression or world wars, the general employment landscape has flipped its leverage in favor of the employee. Unemployment is relatively low in the U.S compared other times in history and translates into more options for anyone seeking employment.

A new form of leadership (which is the oldest form), needs to re-emerge as the choice model of influence. Companies are now being forced to transition to more effective models of leadership, not just to be competitive in the marketplace, but for their very survival. The days of the “boss” model of supervision is quickly becoming outdated, ineffective, and moving closer to extinction, much like cassette tapes, front porches, and mopeds.

Supervision of people can no longer effectively (at least long term) follow the authoritative “boss” model which is anchored in authority and control. Even the military is reconsidering what their leadership model needs to look like going forward to be effective.

What Does it Mean for the Modern-day Leader?

Employees have lots of choices now. Applicants, especially in the blue-collar community can walk down the street and get a job instantly if things do not seem to be to their liking. There is more demand to work on their own terms.

All this means is that leaders are now competing for the attention of the most qualified applicants. Potential employees are simultaneously interviewing the companies, often being left with several options to choose from.

The Pareto Principle

Some call this principle the 80/20 rule. It says, as it relates to the modern job market, that 80% of the top applicants will choose to work for the top 20% of leaders. The top leaders are fighting over the most qualified applicants. This means that if you are not one of the strongest leaders (top 20%), you will be one of the mediocre leaders (bottom 80%) left competing for the bottom 20% of the applicant pool. The leftovers will be your market and the unemployable will consume your interviews. A scarcity mentality will begin to consume you and you will feel like you have no control over your staffing efforts. This could not be further from the truth.

The Law of Magnetism

The universal principle also known as The Law of Attraction, says that people are drawn to leaders that best meet their needs. This means that you are fully in control of who decides to come work for you. The only catch is that it is 100% on your shoulders to become the person they wish to work for.

Be x Do = Have

If you wish to HAVE the best staff, you must be able to DO what attracts the best people. In order to DO what attracts the best people, you need to BE someone, or become one who automatically does those things because it has become who you are.

The 5 Things Every Employee Needs from Their Leader:

1. Appreciation - There is no worse feeling than to put your blood sweat and tears into something to help someone or a group of people accomplish something, only to be dismissed without being noticed. Employees need to be appreciated and respected by their leaders. It’s not enough to simply acknowledge or recognize someone for a job well done or meeting a goal. It goes beyond that.

When relationships are not nurtured by a sense of appreciation, the results are predictable:

  • Team members will experience a lack of connectedness​

  • Workers will tend to become discouraged​

  • Employees will begin to complain about their work, ​their colleagues, and their supervisor.​

  • Team members start to think seriously about ​leaving the organization.

Recognition focuses on performance. Appreciation speaks not only to the performance, but also to their value as a person and what they bring to the team. It communicates a valued connection that you see in them. Very little does more for a person’s self-image than to be fully appreciated by someone they admire and respect.

People will seldom appreciate you any more than you appreciate them.

Coaching Questions:

  • Do you see the greatness in people more often than you see their shortcomings?

  • Are you aware of how your words of encouragement and criticism effect your people?

  • Do you find out if they truly do feel appreciated, or just assume?

2. Clarity – Employees need to know exactly what is expected of them by their leader. When we don’t know the desired outcome or the target, we enter a state of uncertainty leading to confusion. As humans we don’t like uncertainty and will go to great lengths to avoid it feeling that way, especially if jumping ship is easy to do when things become too uncertain.

Leaders who understand that people are not to be managed, rather systems are to be managed, are on their way to a brighter future. People are to be led to the systems that makes everyone’s job easier and more effective. Understanding the systems is essential for every member of the team.

You can tell someone what they should do or show them a system and explain the benefits of using it. People are more likely to follow a system they understand, than a command they don’t.

Coaching Questions:

  • Are you aware of what your employees typically are unclear about?

  • Are you willing to take the necessary steps to remove these uncertainties?

  • Do they know and feel comfortable approaching you with questions?

3. Trust – Employees need to be trusted by their leaders and be able to trust their leaders. If either of these is absent or lacking, the other will surely follow. What they really need is to be able to trust their supervisor and know that they have their back when things get rough. They need to know they will not be stranded and that their needs are important. They need to know that when they have questions or problems, there is someone they can count on to help guide them to solutions.

Character plays a big part of any relationship build on trust. Credibility is developed over time by a consistent display of integrity. Integrity comes from foundational beliefs based on principles anchored in the truth that everyone matters.

Coaching Questions:

  • Can people trust that you are not embellishing the story for effect?

  • Can they trust that you will do what you say you would do without excuses?

  • Do they know for certain that you have their back?

4. Significance – Employee’s desire to be a part of something significant, something that is meaningful to them that makes a difference. They want to know that their efforts aren’t just going towards a few at the top of a company to simply enhance their power and lifestyle. Deep down, our self-image is based on how we think of ourselves as well as what we are striving to achieve.

The 3 Bricklayers – “One day in 1671, Christopher Wren observed three bricklayers on a scaffold, one crouched, one half-standing and one standing tall, working very hard and fast. To the first bricklayer, Christopher Wren asked the question, “What are you doing?” to which the bricklayer replied, “I’m a bricklayer. I’m working hard laying bricks to feed my family.” The second bricklayer, responded, “I’m a builder. I’m building a wall.” But the third brick layer, the most productive of the three and the future leader of the group, when asked the question, “What are you doing?” replied with a gleam in his eye, “I’m a cathedral builder. I’m building a great cathedral to The Almighty.”

Coaching Questions:

  • For each of your employees, do you know what they desire to achieve in their work? In their life?

  • Do you focus on the "why" of a task more than the "what" or "how"?

  • Is your team interested in building the same thing you are? If not, how can you influence them to buy in?

5. Empowerment – Employees want to work for someone who is going to see them for what they are truly capable of. They are desperately looking for a guide to help them get to their next level. No one can reach their best without someone investing in them, supporting them, and believing in them.

Empowerment is quite different from delegation. Delegation deals with what needs to be done to complete the task. Empowerment addresses who you must become to be able to complete the task. One is based on obedience, the other growth and development.

An empowered individual is one that has been believed in, invested in, and built up to be one worthy of the task. An empowered individual is confidence, has the right strategy, is authorized, and licensed to take on the challenge. While delegation is about the task, empowerment is about the taskmaster.

Coaching Questions:

  1. What is it that you feel you need to be fully empowered to be great at what you do?

  2. How can you find out what your employees need to be fully empowered?

  3. Are you willing to put in the time to empower each of your team members?

Need a Transition?

The boss model simply doesn’t cut it any longer. If you are struggling making the transition and find yourself with a team that doesn’t seem to respond to your leadership and guidance, you need a leadership transformation!

Join the Restaurant Leadership Academy Facebook Group here.

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