One sure way to kill a team is for the leader to be insensitive to or unaware of the needs of their team.
In the picture above, the woman is fighting to get her need for air met. Until the need is met, she probably cannot possibly think about anything else.
Employees, team members, group members — whatever you call them — can be like the woman in the picture. When their needs are not met, they find it difficult — if not impossible — to focus on anything else.
Leaders who learn work in ways that fulfill employee needs will get better results than those who do not.
Recently, I had the opportunity to work with one of my long-time clients, the Montgomery County (Indiana) Leadership Academy. In the process, I was reminded of some insights on this vital point by an exercise we did in a session on Servant Leadership.
I had the class rank their top concerns with regard to interactions with their leaders. And the results struck me with how closely they matched similar data I've seen in other places.
I found the results interesting. So, I thought I would share them with you.
The Top 10 Things People Want from Their Leaders
- To be listened to/Empathy
- Opportunities to grow
- Open communication
- Autonomy – the chance to make their own decisions
- A paycheck
- Challenging projects and goals
- Clear communication
While I don't want to offer too much detailed commentary on the list, I will say this: Even though the sample was small (about 18 people), it's a good list. It falls short of a statistically valid study, and still it is highly instructive for leaders who want to learn.
Overall, I see this list as indicating how leaders can focus their attention to fulfill employee needs most effectively.
Notice that the first items are primarily about relationship. Even when the list starts shifting to personal development, task accomplishment and money issues, there are still relationship based items mixed in.
By my count, 6 of the top 10 items are mainly relationship driven issues.
I believe that all 10 of these items are important for leaders who want to fulfill employee needs. With that thought in mind, here's my question:
In your leadership role, are you investing in relationships with the people you lead?