Serve First.

A friend of mine, who is extremely good at what he does, left his job recently. His supervisor was not a very nice person and he reached his limit when his supervisor told him that his paid time off was no longer going to be given to him and whatever time off he had, that was approved, was revoked. Needless to say, he was ticked off.  To reiterate, not only was his supervisor not nice (he used stronger descriptive terms) but she just decided to take away his vacation time.

Whenever I hear stories like this, it makes me wonder two things:

  • How did this person achieve a leadership position, and
  • WHY are they still in that leadership position?
Organizations exist to serve. Period. Leaders live to serve. Period.    —  Tom Peters     

I have always believed that and always will. I believe that I have many times, through my blog reiterated this sentiment. The higher up you go, the more you are there to help those that report to you achieve their goals and help them achieve the goals of the organization. You are not in a position of leadership to throw your weight around and treat people like they do not matter.  Who cares what titles you have under your name on your business card, be it CEO, EVP, MD, whatever? Who cares? If you do not treat the people in your organization in a way that spells out that you are a leader, a role model, then why are you in that position?  Was it more about WHO YOU KNEW? If that is the case, then what does that say about the organization as a whole?  Reflect on that.

So many people are disillusioned with corporate because a great number of times promotions are based on who you rub elbows with more than whether or not you are deserving.  One agency I worked for had people in leadership positions that knew nothing about the department they were leading. In addition to this, they gave the plum assignments or coddled the direct reports that were part of their clique.  As a leader, being fair and impartial are part and parcel of your job description and if you cannot live up to that, then you need to step aside. 

As human beings, we will always have people that we tend to gravitate to but we have to be able to separate that when we are making judgment calls on people's performance.  

Back to leaders and serving. In this past year we have seen several C-Suite leaders negotiated out of their positions because of the horrible behavior they have exhibited towards their people and the opinions they expressed in the media. Thank goodness is all I can say.  But this advice doesn't just go for those at the very very top, it goes out to all of us.  Sometimes we have to make hard decisions, sometimes the people who report to us don't necessarily like the decisions we make but if you were looking out for your team's best interests from the beginning, if you were serving them as you led them, these hard to swallow decisions would have been a lot more palatable because you served them in the right way.