The Million Dollar Question For Leaders

April 11, 2013

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I'm Deb- CEO, worldwide executive coach, mentor, consultant and speaker. I'm here to help you take your leadership and impact to the next level!

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Leaders have many responsibilities – strategic planning, overseeing operations, managing the bottom line, and growing the business. There is one responsibility – arguably the biggest – that underlies every one of these and that is the development of people. Why? It is because these people will carry out that plan, perform the operations, impact the financials, and grow the business.


So when it comes down to it, the main responsibility of a leader really comes down to how they connect and cultivate the people on their team.


And yet, one of the biggest complaints of the average worker is that the leader does not value the people.


How can a leader demonstrate value to his or her followers?


1. Communicate – Wise is the leader who takes the time to get to know as many people in the company as possible. Yes, this means that occasionally you would need to leave your window office and walk to where your people are. It just might be the most important thing you do in a work day. Communication is a two-way street, so as important as it is to speak to your people, it is perhaps even more critical to listen. And beyond that, act on the good advice you inevitably will get.


2. Congratulate – Pay close attention to those who do something well, and give them specific feedback. There are employees who will keep a handwritten note from a boss for a lifetime. This sort of thing has much more impact on employee performance than an annual performance review.


3. Collaborate – Upper management, if not careful, can become a very exclusive group. The danger of this is that they can begin to lose touch with the real issues, ideas become stale in such a limited environment, and they lose the respect of followers.  The fact is, there are assistants within many companies who have more of a finger on the pulse of the company than their bosses. As a leader, you should collaborate with experts in all areas of your business. Not only will you learn a great deal, but you will earn something of great value – the trust of your people.


4. Care – A leader is given an opportunity to serve – not to be served, though many view it that way.  Do your people know you genuinely care about them or do they just feel “used”? If your people know you care, they will do all they can to help you succeed. If they sense you don’t care, they may do their jobs, but you will never reach the level of success you could have. If you care, they will work with respect for you; if you don’t care, they will work from a point of obligation or fear. The former is much more conducive to the company’s bottom line. Caring for your people really does matter.

So here’s the million dollar question (perhaps literally) – do you as a leader REALLY value your people?  




Prove it.



  1. Deb, thank you for incuding congratulating and acknowledging the people who make up the organization as one of your powerful points. The critism to praise ration is often quoted as 52:1. Genuine praise for a specific action that made a difference is one of the best ways to breakthrough the connection barrier and build bridges of trust.
    I remember leading a large workshop for a company when I engaged a heckler to take part in an exercise. The topic was acknowledgement. He recalled the exact date and circumstances, over 35 years ago (yikes!) when he was last congratulated for a job well done. This despite stellar performance and respect form his peers. The audience of over 300 of his co-workers were brought to pin -drop silence by his complelling story.
    His story led to the eveolution of his company culture and his personal transformation from heckler to leader.
    Great points once again Deb. Thank you for sharing your insight and enthusiasm.

    • Deb Ingino says:

      Thanks David! II love the reference you made to building bridges of trust. That in fact is such a foundational piece to successful leadership. I love watching leaders like you to see it done well!

  2. Trudy Fitzsimmons says:

    Deb, your so right. Many times I have heard management issue orders but leave out any details simply because they have discussed it time and time again with other managers but forget to relay those details for the benefit of the people who must do the job. This is not intentional but is common. In the fast pace we set communicating all the information is key.Thanks for the opportunity to share with you.

  3. Odd, isn’t it? As business leaders and owners we’d naturally care for equipment; we’d upgrade our systems when possible and schedule maintenance check ups. Yet with employees or outsourced partners, we assume they’ll either take care of themselves or find their wage/benefits package given in exchange for their bundle of purchased skills a fair deal. Problem is, the leader doesn’t just get the sought skill set when an employee comes to work; we get their worries, fears, insecurities, regrets and frustrations, too. And all those have an impact on their ability to use their skills well (and that’s on behalf of our business). Typically, employers don’t value their people; they value just a piece of them: the skill or creativity or experience or contacts they apply to our business. Ignoring the whole person and hoping s/he’ll set aside personal problems during working hours is ignorance to the max!

    • Deb Ingino says:

      Thanks for your comments Andrea and unfortunately your experience is shared among many of us.

      Then there are those leaders who move into a higher level of thinking and connect with their team are the ones with high performance organizations. Something our economy and world could use more of these days.