Monday, November 08, 2010

Why you shouldn't treat people like crap

Want to know one of the quickest ways to gauge the effectiveness of a leader? It has nothing to do with how much they get done, how committed they are to their tasks, how they communicate with their boss, how they interact with their peers, or a myriad of other possibilities.

In my opinion, you only need to look at how they treat the people “below” them on the corporate ladder. Whether those people are directly beneath them, a few rungs removed, or even not technically in their area. The people “below” them could even be volunteers, especially if you’re talking about church leaders.

Do they treat them as if they’re insanely valuable? Critical to getting the job done? Do they routinely celebrate their successes? Or constantly bring up failures & missteps? Do they treat them as insignificant, invisible, or merely as tools being wielded by “the leader” to accomplish the bottom line?

In my opinion, one of a leader’s top 3 goals should be to improve the life, well being and effectiveness of the people working/serving under them. If the people below you aren’t improving, you’re failing as a matter how many tasks you accomplish.

There are tons of reasons I believe this is an important (if not the most important) goal for a leader. Here are 5:

1) People are valuable

In the fast pace of things, it’s easy to start looking at people as resources to be used so we can accomplish our tasks.

This. Is. Dangerous. 

Yeah, I'm going to need you to come in on Saturday...

It is worth saying the obvious here: A person is not a stapler. They are not a tool. They are not a resource. They are a uniquely made and infinitely valuable treasure. They are not disposable. They are not replaceable. When you begin to see people as expendable resources, you are no longer leading people, you’re managing programs & machines. And you should be replaced with a computer, it’s better at it than you.

2) They’ll work better

I don’t mean harder, I just mean better. They may not put in more hours, they may not grind themselves down. But I’ll bet they’ll spend less time spacing out during the hours they are already there. Their time will become more productive. They’ll find ways of solving problems & getting things done because they will actually WANT to, instead of just HAVE to. Fear, intimidation and bullying can go a long way...but they will never result in someone’s best work.

3) They’ll go to bat for you

Never underestimate the power of someone sticking up for you. We so easily tear each other down with backhanded comments, passive aggressive conversation & heavy handed gossip. It is a special thing to see someone actually praise their boss, team leader, director, etc when they don’t expect their superior to ever get wind of it. That is powerful & game changing to the people who witness it.

4) It flows downhill

People learn how to treat others, in many ways, from how their leaders treat them. If you have 3 team members who each have small teams of volunteers, they are going to take their cues from you. They way you treat them, they will end up treating their teams. It’s just the nature of life, we emulate those above us. It’s also a way of duplicating yourself as a leader. You just have to ask yourself, what parts of you are you duplicating?

5) It's spiritual

Philippians 2:3 "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves."

Jesus talked about loving others as yourself. Here, Paul seems to kick that up a notch by saying to value others not as yourself, but above yourself. That can be a tall order to fill...but I believe we’re called to it. It requires humility, sacrifice, a pretty big dose of self-awareness...and sometimes a kick in the pants from someone else.

What are ways that you can treat & value others who are “below” you as actually higher than you? What would that look like in your life? Professionally, or personally for that matter?