Why Are They Lining Up to Work for Him?

An executive at a large healthcare organization was recently preparing to head up a new hospital within the same system. Employees who work for the organization lined up to go with him when he opened the doors. He heard comments like, “You’re taking me with you when you go, right?” and “I don’t care what the position is, when you open that hospital, I want to work for you!” Unfortunately, he had more employees asking to go with him than he had positions. WOW – what a problem to have!

Why is it that some people can get others to want to work for them so badly that they don’t care what position they have to take to do so… while others can’t get anyone to want to work for them, no matter how good the position is?

It’s because people want to work for leaders who are “human” and compassionate, respectful and enjoyable to be around. These quotes from this man’s employees say it all:

“He respects us and asks for our input… and then he actually takes it!”
“He’s a lot of fun to work for – not stuffy and stodgy, but he has a great sense of humor!”
“He always takes time to show everyone that he really cares about us as people.”
“He really knows his stuff, but he doesn’t act like he’s better than everyone else.”

Comments like these highlight the traits that effective leaders display on a daily basis. Note that these employees don’t want to work for a different organization; they want to stay with the same company. They just want to work for him. He is the main factor in creating the WOW place!

Many leaders equate being professional with being impassive and unemotional, but this actually hinders the emotional connection with others whose help we need to succeed as a team. Some suggestions to be a more “human” and compassionate leader are:

  • When someone stops you in the hall to talk, give them your undivided attention. If you don’t have time to do so at that moment, let them know of the urgency you feel to take care of another issue, but ask them to return at a specific time when you can give them the attention they deserve. Acting impatient, looking at your watch, or rushing off without explanation makes people feel ignored or dismissed, as if they don’t really matter.
  • Really listen to what people say and make a note to remember and comment (in the future) on an issue that’s important to them, such as a sick child or spouse – or pet!
  • Laugh with them, share their fun conversations… laugh at yourself when you make a silly mistake (we all make them once in a while). Show them you’re human!
  • Get out of your office and in with the people once in a while. Don’t allow them to think you’re “ruling on high” from an ivory tower without any real connection to the people you lead.

While we do need to keep our emotions in check and can’t always be joking around, we must also be careful that we don’t become unapproachable or prevent others from identifying with us. People want to see themselves reflected in their leaders. This means that we can – and should – be human enough for them to be willing to go to the wall for us when needed. They won’t go to the wall for an impassive person they only know at arm’s length – but they will do it for someone they care about – and who they know, without a doubt, cares about them.

© Sandy Geroux  All rights reserved.


Please signup/login to add the speaker in wishlist