There used to be a TV Show called Cheers whose theme song said, “….where everybody knows your name.” Cheers was a sitcom that included quirky people who somehow became friends. Their interaction often involved humor, but also a conversation about who they were, and what was important to them.
I heard a recent story about a gentleman who began life in a poor family in Africa, left home, and lived on the street at age 10. He didn’t have much to eat and would look for scraps and anything he could find to eat; often living in dirty, trash-filled areas. He never felt like he would amount to anything until one day someone crossed his path and asked him his name. It changed his life! Since then, he has gone to school, became an inspirational speaker, and has been a foster parent to 28 children. All because someone took the time to know his name.
As leaders, do we know our team members’ names? In other words, do we know who they are, their purpose, and their strengths? Do we see them as whole people who have value? During economic slowdowns it is easy to see people as numbers and whether they add to the overhead versus the profitability of our companies. We are hearing about some who are laying people off without much consideration for the person. Those same leaders wonder why team members are not more loyal to them.
We have an opportunity to see the value in people and to demonstrate respect for their abilities. Not just for what they can do for us, but for the unique contribution that they make which beautifies and improves the world. Doing so requires us to really see them, listen to them, and support their success.
Investing in your team’s wellness, training, and empowerment is core to a leaders role.
These priorities often seem at odds with the tasks at hand and the goals which must be accomplished. However, if we set our priorities on the right things, the other tasks and goals will follow.
Sometimes, supporting their success also means letting go. They may be people we care about, but we may be holding them back from true success by allowing them to stay. Letting someone go is hard, but it hopefully will free them to go somewhere that will provide new learning opportunities for them.