Last week, I stood in shock as a business owner humiliated his employee by putting him down in front of a client. The (clearly passionate) young man was new to the business and enthusiastically attempting to support his boss with an idea that the boss was too egotistical to take in. The idea was a good one, I have to say, but the boss somehow saw his support as stepping on his toes. This made me very sad. Not only as a human being, but as someone who runs a team of my own.
One of the things I have always been clear about is that I will only hire someone if they can teach me something. I truly love being around those who are passionate about what they do, work hard to become experts and remain curious enough to keep learning. I enjoy bringing my team members into meetings, even when not directly related to their area of expertise, and don’t mind when some of the more enthusiastic ones jump into the conversation. I would rather an excess of ideas bubbling over onto my desk than stare across it and see a bunch of talented men and women holding their thoughts in because they are afraid I will take their sharing them wrong. How will that help us do our best for our clients and grow the business?
I get wanting to be the top dog, but I think it is time business owners start to carry ourselves as leaders and stop competing with those they are meant to mentor and guide. Power is not only about trumping those under you and showcasing that you have the final say. It’s about lifting people up, listening to them and doing what you can to bring out the very best in them (and that does not happen in a culture of fear).Yes, there are those who want to step on the toes of others, but most employees are not looking to steal thunder; most are simply excited about the business and looking to please their bosses. One thing I have learned is this: when an employee feels valued and as though they are contributing, the business blossoms and the culture inside of the office is one that people want to stay in. When they feel stifled, bullied or otherwise devalued, they shrink and wilt.
I don’t pretend to be the best boss and I am learning something new every single day (especially when I have so many different creative personalities on my team) but I do hope that my team knows that I see them as intelligent, valuable, respected people with voices I want to hear.
Tell me, do you think too many bosses compete with their employees? Have you ever dealt with this?