Leaders as People Believers… Or Not

Management Organizational culture Respect


Key Point: As a leader, I think what you believe about people is what you get. I was recently at a meeting that included a gaggle of so called Chief Human Resource Officers (CHROs) from a variety of industries. One CHRO representing a leading company (100 plus year old institution with about 15,000 employees) stated the following: “Right now, someone in your company is stealing from you, today a bunch of your people cheated you by leaving early, people won’t give you a decent amount of production unless you threaten them with fear of job loss,” and even more drivel. Wow. If this is what leaders who are responsible for the experience of people in organizations believe, no wonder employee engagement is at an all time low.

This same CHRO chuckled as he told the following story: His CEO put huge pressure on cost management. Subsequently, the procurement people negotiated a list of “acceptable” low cost hotels for employees to stay at during travel. The CHRO was subject to the same policy, and stayed at one of the three star hotels available to all. When the CEO found out his direct report executive was subject to the same policy, he berated the procurement manager and sent him to stay at the hotel “inflicted” on the executive. Several days later, the banished procurement manager called and sheepishly asked if it was ok to come home. He had been staying at the lowbrow hotel as instructed. The CEO chuckled and noted he forgot he “even sent him there.” Can you believe that leaders subject people to this humiliation? Can you believe people allow themselves to be treated this way?

Character Moves:

  1. Believe that people are great, and trust them to be great. If you expect mistrust, that’s what you will get. Believe in people, and they will rise to the occasion. Yes, you will find a few exceptions. Fire them! Trust all others.
  1. You deserve to be treated with respect. You have an obligation to treat everyone else with respect. Be tough minded regarding your expectations that people in your organization will get results. However, no one has the right to humiliate anyone to make a point. If you have the power to do that and act on it, you’re an ego driven ____ (you fill in the blanks). If you allow yourself to be victimized, get supportive help. You’ve lost your dignity and courage to do the right thing.
  1. It is possible to create great, people driven cultures that achieve superb customer experience, outstanding financial outcomes and enviable shareholder return. Don’t give in to the cynics. 

Believing in people in The Triangle,


One Millennial View: I work in media, I know grisly stories sell best, but real life isn’t a dark news agenda. Despite all the statistics, heck yes people are trustworthy/ultimately good-natured, and if you really dwell on the conviction that they’re not, I don’t envy the side of the bed you wake up on every morning. Some cynics might call that “ignorance,” but if positivity was an Instagram filter, it would result in a much better picture that everyone should try more often. Us Millennials prefer a message that has our heads looking up and forward. 

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis