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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, June 03, 2018 1:00 am

Leaders must value their people, book says

LISA GREEN | The Journal Gazette

You can't stay in meetings all day.

Stop by an employee's desk. Ask how they're doing. Ask them what they need. Better yet, let them know when they're doing a great job.

You might just improve workplace morale.

Those reminders are courtesy of author John Keyser, whose second book, “When Leadership Improves, Everyone Wins: A Discussion of the Principles of Highly Effective Leadership,” was released in mid-April.

“Managers focus on numbers and leaders focus on people,” Keyser said in an interview just before Memorial Day.

Leadership is a gift. But it comes with a price.

“With the gift comes a responsibility and the responsibility to and for your people,” said Keyser, who is based in Chicago and founder of Common Sense Leadership, a coaching firm.

Keyser's first book was “Make Way For Women: Men and Women Leading Together Improve Culture and Profits.”

A graduate of Georgetown University's Leadership Coaching Program, Keyser has worked with corporations and nonprofits.

Attitude and “emotional intelligence,” such as showing empathy and kindness, go a long way.

“So many people feel like they don't have a good boss or a good working relationship or constructive relationship,” Keyser said. “So many people get promoted because they're good in sales or good in technology or something.”

The problem, he said, is no one has asked many of those individuals if they really wanted to manage a team. They haven't told them that there's a shift that needs to take place: “It's now not about them, but their team; not them being great, but their team being great. ... Too seldom do they have the conversation about the new responsibility for other people's growth and success.”

Employees want to feel appreciated and valued. 

“They want to feel that they're heard and that their ideas matters,” Keyser said. “Everybody wants to do a good job and be successful.”

Too often, the workplace isn't fulfilling those needs. Survey after survey, Keyser said, shows most workers – usually about 75 percent – don't feel valued.

“That's just horrible. It's just sad,” he said. “Your people are your internal clients,” Keyser said. “They're every bit as important as your external clients. It's your people who produce the results.”

Etiquette Week

It's National Business Etiquette Week.

Never heard of it? Neither had I, until the latest news release from Accountemps hit my inbox Thursday.

Senior managers surveyed by the staffing firm said the most common breaches of business etiquette committed by staff and co-workers include running late to or missing meetings (34 percent), not responding to calls or emails in a timely manner (26 percent) and gossiping about others in the office (23 percent).

A corresponding survey of workers found slightly different results, with respondents citing talking about colleagues as the most common offense (24 percent), followed by being distracted during meetings (18 percent) and not responding to work communication in a timely fashion (17 percent).

Survey results are based on responses from more than 1,000 U.S. workers 18 years of age or older and employed in office environments and more than 300 senior managers at U.S. companies with 20 or more employees.

Michael Steinitz, executive director of Accountemps, said the need for respect in the workplace should be obvious, “yet etiquette blunders happen every day.”

The survey results indicate being courteous to co-workers impacts career success; 65 percent of managers and 46 percent of workers say it can accelerate advancement, Accountemps said in the news release.

However, the respondent groups did not see eye to eye when it comes to courtesy and moving up the corporate ladder.

Sixty-one percent of leaders said professionals become more courteous as they advance, but a near majority of employees (48 percent) disagreed and said politeness declines.

To share a thought, a favorite quote or other wisdom about leadership, email Lisa Green at lisagreen@jg.net. Lead On also appears online as a blog at www.journalgazette.net/blog/lead-on/.