When it comes to most parts of life, being independent is a valuable trait. You can fend for yourself, handle your own issues, and are not constantly counting on someone else to take care of you. In the old style of doing business, the less questions you asked, the better. If you could quietly clock in, and go about your 9-5 job without bothering anyone else or ticking off your boss, it was considered a good day at work. Communication between different levels of employment was discouraged, interdepartmental projects were often deemed too time-consuming, and the power of collaboration was largely ignored. Furthermore, from the time you stepped in the door to the time you left, you were a worker, not a person with errands to run, schedules to keep, children to feed, or a hot new date to impress. Your personal life was distinctly separate, and you were encouraged to leave all baggage, literally, at the door.
As someone who wants to become a cool leader like Jim Goodnight, CEO of SAS, in the modern era of innovative and dynamic business theory, this old way of viewing members of your work force must be eliminated. Employees are, first and foremost, people, and as such, their individual needs, ambitions, personalities, strengths, and weaknesses must be understood to help them realize their full potential. Some of the most successful companies of today have managed to find a healthy balance between hierarchy and equality, life and work, and the all-important controlling vs. enabling. Employees must feel that they are not only valued as assets to the company, but also supported as individuals that have lives outside of the office. The amount of support that is given to your workforce can be positively correlated with their productivity and job satisfaction, which obviously works in the company’s favor.
Companies that remain as a disconnected group of anonymous workers that are simply showing up for a paycheck and little else are beginning to fail, if they haven’t already. There should be a sense of community, support, and empathy in the workplace, because at the end of the day, everyone has an outside life, and sometimes, it needs to take precedence. If you can build your company’s culture to make your employees feel well taken cared of and respected, as well as supported professionally in their goals and individual projects, than you have all of the elements of an extremely loyal and dedicated work force in place. Cool leaders are humble enough to realize how essential their employees’ happiness truly is, and therefore strives not only to relate to them as unique people, but also to facilitate their happiness through support and understanding.
A supportive environment is one of the many qualities that are beginning to shape modern business theory, and the most successful leaders of today epitomize most, if not all, of these traits.
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