Have you ever asked yourself why people work for you? Have you ever even stopped to think about why anyone would choose to work for you? It might not be something that’s ever crossed your mind. But stop and think about it for a minute. Why you?
People go to work for a company for many reasons. Maybe the work is challenging and rewarding or the pay and benefits are too good to pass up. It might be that the company has a stellar reputation that attracts talent, or it could be that a friend works there, too.
But research says people stay because of their boss. So why do your people work for you?
Knowing the answer to this simple question can provide a lot of insight into who you are as a manager. I’ve worked for a number of bosses during my career, and if they asked me this question, I’d answer it a little differently for each.
I worked for a boss who was extremely passionate about the business and brought a creative energy that was inspiring. I worked for another who was incredibly grounded and brought a degree of discipline to his work that allowed the company to succeed. I worked for a third boss who was a calculated risk taker and had an intuitive sense about where to apply resources and when to cut his losses.
But there were a number of traits that all of the best bosses I worked for shared: a passion for their work, a commitment to success, and loyalty to others.
The best bosses I had loved what they did. They enjoyed getting up each day and coming to work. They lived the axiom “find something you love to do, and you’ll never work a day in your life.” Working for someone who loves her job can be contagious. You see the passion and energy she brings to the office each day, and it’s inspiring. She’s not there for the money. She’s not there for the glory. She comes to work each day because she loves what she does.
The best bosses I’ve had were also committed to success. They were competitive people who had a drive to succeed. When you work for someone who cares — really cares — about winning, it makes you want to be a part of that success. You want to make a contribution to what the team is trying to achieve. You don’t want to ever be the reason something doesn’t work. Great bosses know how to get others to understand what the prize is and get them to work together to achieve it.
Loyalty to others is the third and, in my estimation, the most important trait that all of my best bosses shared. They were loyal to the company, they were loyal to the vision, and they were loyal to the people with whom they worked. And their loyalty was rewarded with people who were loyal to them. The people who worked for them were willing to go the extra mile to help the organization succeed because they wanted to see their boss succeed.
Did you notice I didn’t once use the word charismatic to describe one of my best bosses? Nor did I talk about their ability to motivate or inspire the people who worked for them. At least one of the three I described would be considered charismatic. And all of them were able to motivate others — but not by their words as much as their actions.
You see, it was what they did, not what they said, that caused others to follow them. Their passion, commitment, and loyalty are what set them apart and caused others to want to work for them.
Knowing why people work for you will make you a better boss. So what is it that keeps your people coming back day after day? What is it about you that causes others to follow? Why do people work for you?