Your employees don’t care about how much you know until they know how much you care
I started to write this article in December but I guess I got distracted by the holidays. And now that it’s the middle of February and I am choosing to spend the winter in Dayton this year instead of Florida, trading sunny 70 degree weather for cold, dreary wet, I’m inspired to finish this story.
There’s an often quoted metaphor, “Your people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care,” which will never wear out its welcome. In the month of December I saw it in real time during two different opportunities I had to share The Leadership Pledge as a consultant and Keynote Speaker. Main Line Supply and Montgomery County IT group; two vastly different organizations in size, purpose, and circumstance; one experiencing a long sustainable history and the other searching for a better understanding of success. What they do have in common is two leaders who understand the balance between winning and creating an environment where their employees feel valued, respected, and part of something special.
What I find intriguing about both Mike O’Brien, original partner in Main Line and John Rike, director of the IT group is how their competitiveness and intensity manifests into a passion that defines their uniqueness as thoughtful and caring leaders.
I had the privilege of delivering the keynote to Main Line Supply during a beautiful Christmas evening dinner meeting. It is an annual event that is focused on recognizing employees for a successful financial year while acknowledging both individual and team contributions. Whether warehouse or sales, new or tenured, Mike O’Brien expressed a deep sense of appreciation and LOVE for every person in that room. He wasn’t speaking to his audience as a group but he was speaking to each one of them individually. Every person in that room, like all of us, have deep within us the need to be loved and respected and Mike proved once again to me that we only become more human as leaders when we learn to love and serve others. Inspiration is the responsibility of all leaders and it’s the magic of all relationships.
The Montgomery County IT group is charged with supporting all business units for the County and is in the process of redefining its mission, implementing new strategic imperatives, realigning roles and responsibilities, all under the direction of Jon Rike, the new IT director. The departmental meeting to announce these organizational changes was the culmination of several months of review and analysis with input from his management team. Jon had engaged me to work with his leadership team in understanding their role in these new imperatives. He recognized as a prerequisite for this journey caring and LOVE had to be his primary message. He was steadfast in his belief that his leadership team must develop meaningful relationships based on love and respect. As Jon navigates his organization through this transition I’m confident that he will be successful because at his core he believes his responsibility is the need to serve a higher purpose.
Jon’s kickoff meeting was for the lack of a better description his, “state of the union address”. And while it included remarks from the County Executive and a deep dive into the data and statistics which represented the past and the future, the central theme of his message was his commitment to his employees that all of the organizational changes shared were grounded in the human side of the enterprise. He encouraged each of them by giving them a sense of purpose and implored them to embrace a leadership role and the opportunity to shape the organization. Like Mike O’Brien, in a totally different set of circumstances, Jon Rike exemplified the belief that we become more human as leaders when we learn to love and serve others.