Good Leaders are People People
Randy Wolken, President & CEO

You have to be a person focused on people if you are going to be successful as a leader. The very definition of a good leader is that people follow you. If people do not willingly follow you, you are just a person on a walk all by yourself. Trust me, I know this, I have made the mistake myself. It is painful and ineffective.

What does it mean to be a people person? It means you are good at listening, observing, and serving others. Good leaders realize quickly that it is not about them. It is about serving others in order to fulfill the mission. People cannot be a means to an end. They are the only real asset in most industries and businesses today. Everything else is for purchase and can be operated in nearly any part of the world. I tell my team at MACNY that the real assets of our business go home each day. I pray they come back in the morning energized to serve our members. Everything else MACNY has insurance for. If it gets consumed by a fire overnight, insurance can replace it and put our great team back to work.

Why is this? We are in the hottest job market in 50 years. And, even during the next recession (and we will have one) this will not change. The demographics of our country point to low unemployment for all jobs and even lower for high skills jobs. This is the new normal. It points to the need for different kinds of leaders and organizational cultures everywhere.

In my role at MACNY, I get to visit countless companies and organizations. I can tell in the first 10 minutes if it is successful and growing. I can predict if it will thrive or is failing. Here’s a simple test I use: Are they smiling? Yup. A clear indicator of a steady organization.

What does a smile tell me? It tells me that the employees are engaged and want to work hard. The leader in an organization can use the following questions to do their own assessment. Here is the list I use. Is everyone working hard and enjoying the work they are doing? Do they smile and treat each other with respect? Is it a place where people stay for a long period of time – and are great advocates for the business? Do they have a sense of “mission” toward their work? These are the real questions leaders need to answer and deliver on today. That’s why it is so important that leaders are people people first and foremost.

Is your leadership style consistent with being an outstanding people person? How can you become a better leader focused on your team? Are you helping other leaders become people people? Do you see the potential in every team member? Do you smile when you are at work because you truly enjoy it? How could you begin to enjoy it starting today? Good questions for leaders in the 21st Century.