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People-Centered:  The Motivational Moments Great Leaders Seek to Create

We recently celebrated Valentine’s Day.  This is one of the most celebrated holidays of the year.  It serves as an opportunity to express sentiment to people who add great meaning to our lives and warmth to our hearts. It can also be a stressful time of the year because we often struggle to find the gift that the person will truly appreciate.

Of course, we can do what’s popular and expected: Buy heart-shaped boxes of candy, fragrant roses and oversized, cuddly teddy bears or reserve tables at restaurants for romantic dinners.  In time, these gifts may become commonplace if they are not tailored to the recipient. We must seek to understand our loved ones—what makes them unique, how important they are to us, how their presence makes a difference in our lives.

Undercover Boss is a television show in which a CEO wears a disguise, interacts with the employees and performs the duties of various roles within the company. The CEO’s goal is to assess the overall operations of the company to make sure everyone is adhering to the company’s vision and procedures.

At the end of the week, the leader reveals his or her true identity. The employees are shocked, and many receive acts of kindness from the CEO. This experience allows the leader to see beyond the data and really take note of the people who help his or her company function daily.

In business, leaders must seek to understand their employees. They must learn how to take their needs into consideration. A leader who is people-centered is someone who consistently motivates employees to reach their maximum potential and understands what it takes to do so.

Are you a people-centered leader?



The 8 Ps of Exceptional Leadership Blog Series


What It Means:   Seek first to understand those around them. Connect to their  

                           needs; motivate them to excellence.

“Understanding your employees’ perspective can go a long way towards increasing productivity and happiness.” ~ Kathryn Minshew

Being people-centered is essential for anyone in leadership. Whether leaders are working in corporations, small businesses, non-profit organizations or churches, they must be open to understand the people who look to them for guidance and leadership. Without them, they would be left alone to run the company. As the saying goes, one is the loneliest number. It doesn’t have to be if the leader defines the team both individually and collectively and seeks to understand them.

The word “understand” is defined as grasping the significance, implications or importance of something or someone. Leaders should realize the power within the meaning of this definition. Understanding employees begins with becoming familiar with their needs and talents. It also involves figuring out how their presence fits into the overall framework of the organization.

Every employee is unique; he or she adds something more to the position than his or her ability to perform the job at a certain level of excellence. The employee may come in earlier or work late.. He or she may go the extra mile in completing a task or better yet, bring a level of creativity, perspective or risk taking consideration in to a project. Understanding the individual involved and their specific needs and motivations is key. This is not found in textbooks, rather leaders, it comes from within. It doesn't stop at work, it extends wherever and whenever we interact with others.

I am reminded of a story I read online in which a customer went into a fast food restaurant. She ordered her food and throughout the entire transaction, none of the employees really noticed her. When the cashier gave her the order, the woman brushed her fingers over the worker’s hand, looked intently into her eyes and said, “Now do you see me?” 

This customer wanted the employee to realize that she was a human and deserved to be acknowledged. She wanted to feel a connection. While the employee may have been distracted by the hustle and bustle of completing orders, the ultimate message is that every customer deserves to be treated with respect, acknowledgement and recognition of their individual contribution. (So it is with other affiliates.)

People centered organizations plant seeds of greatness with all who cross their paths.  Leaders who grasp this principle know how to plant this specific seed by practicing not only externally, but internally as well. Now for a quick quiz– On a scale of one to ten with ten being highest, if you are a leader, how do you feel your associates might rate your performance in demonstrating this specific principle? 

A Thought for Reflection

“Stay in touch with your reality and you will stay in touch with the truth.” ~Barbara Tolliver-Haskins

Leaders are not only expected to execute and guide others in achieving the vision and mission of their organ izations, they must also be good stewards of the talents that prevail within.  Making connections with their associates is the first step towards becoming people centered. Motivating them to exceptional excellence is one of the many ultimate rewards. I propose without hesitanct that being people-centered will minimize surprises and keep you grounded in the truth without bias and or blame.

How can you become people-centered?

 I propose that  you  step into your employees’ shoes. You never know what is really required to perform the duties of a position until you understand what is involved and essential for employee success.  Can't speak with everyone?  Then I propose that you create a system that links you systematically across your organization and offers benchmarks that are valid and credible. Emails are quick and easy but face-to-face conversations are still number one motivators and connectors.

Finally, you may not be able to go undercover, but you can conduct a field experience. If you have several departments within your organization, consider shadowing a key associate for a scheduled amount of time. Take over his or her role for the day and set aside time to find out more about the person and the position. This experience will help you get to know your employees better, identify alternatives for improving the processes or duties associated with the position and discover ways to motivate them to excel.  My message is always "everyone and every position counts".  If not, we are wasting dollars.

Reflections on Your Journey to Becoming an Exceptional Leader

We have completed our course of navigating toward the 8 Ps of Exceptional Leadership! Leadership is one of my favorite topics.  Why?  Because leadership is a journey.  The trip never stops. Reflect on everything you have read and learned. My hope is that you will reflect on my 8 Ps from time-to-time and utilize the thoughts that I have shared with you over the past few months.

Our next blog series will focus on listening and communication skills that are essential for every leader to have. It will launch sometime in March.

Need a plan of action to develop exceptional outcomes in your leadership or clarify those factors that may impede your personal brand? Executive Coaching Solutions will help you connect the dots to both personal and professional success. Contact me today via email at [email protected] or by phone at 904 221-0380 for an introductory consultation.

Barbara Tolliver-Haskins, MBA, PCC

Founder: Executive Coaching Solutions