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Chapter 2 - Leaders Know
Finding and keeping good people must be a personal priority for every individual in the organization. I once asked a large group of first- and second-level sales managers at The Berry Company how many of them had personally recruited a salesperson, just one, over the last twelve months. The question produced a paltry twenty-five percent show of hands. The truth is, even in companies where hiring and retaining good people is the number one priority, this focus can still slip away in the hectic pace of business if it is not constantly reinforced.
I’ve never been opposed to college recruiting, job fairs, online recruiting, newspaper ads, and so on. While I support these resources as part of a recruiting strategy, too often they are the painful result of not effectively engaging your employees in the recruiting and selection process.
Your best employees are your best recruiters. Why? First, who knows the job and what’s required to be successful better than your best people? Second, “winners run around with winners!” With high levels of employee engagement, you will increase your odds of attracting those prospective employees who are experiencing success in their own careers but weren’t aware of the wonderful opportunities awaiting them at your company. I always loved to disrupt people’s lives by making them aware of what they were missing by not being at Berry!
To quote Aristotle, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
Chapter 11 - Leaders Encourage Self-Acceptance and Acceptance of Others
First, help every individual you supervise to be more than they can be and not something they’re not. Secondly, each and every day, strive to make a difference in someone’s life. Take that responsibility seriously and recognize that being in a position of leadership is a gift and a blessing. Upon retirement, I was fortunate to have a number of recognition events in my honor. As I reflected on the many wonderful things that were said and written, there was not one reference to the number of quotas made or missed, the number of times we made our net income, and only a few references to our many contract acquisitions during those last nine years.
Since retirement, I have had the privilege of maintaining contact with a number of our employees. There has never been mention of quotas made or missed, the number of times we made our net income, and only a few references to our many contract acquisitions! Every memory, reflection, or gesture of thanks has to do with the fact that in some small way, I made a difference in their lives. In the end, that’s how all of our lives are judged.
I have a priest friend who has administered last rites on hundreds of occasions. He will be quick to tell you that in sharing those last moments of life, no one has ever expressed regret about not making enough quotas or spending more time at work. They talk about wishing they would have cared more, loved more and gave more. It’s a sobering thought, but one we all need to address now, not when it’s too late!
In the final analysis, there is nothing more important than being important to someone. I’ve heard it said “to the whole world we may be one person, but to one person we could be the whole world.”
I’ve avoided discussing my involvement in a number of community activities previously, but it’s appropriate to mention here. As current Chair of the United Way Board for our three counties and campaign chair in 2003, I have visited over sixty-five agencies that are part of the United Way network. During these trips, I witnessed true hopelessness for the first time in my life. Not hopelessness in terms of a terminal illness, which some of us have unfortunately dealt with, but rather hopelessness from pure, utter despair by people who were either born into a circumstance or have fallen upon hard times and have little chance of getting out.
Along the way, I’ve met amazing people who perform tiny miracles every day because they take the time to care. I’m convinced every problem in this world can be solved if someone cares enough. The lesson here is simple and straightforward.
Corporations do not fail or succeed because of the economy, competition, or emerging technology. They fail because of their inability to care. Their inability to respond is purely the result of the lack of focused energy inside their four walls as a result of not accepting each other and the God-given talent we all bring to relationships. It’s really simple, it’s just not easy!