Should a Leader Always Put Other People First?

November 3, 2022

Overview: People like to belong to groups that protect and care for them. They’re keen to repay these benefits through loyalty, engagement, and trust. Organizations that put their people first are more productive and better primed to take on whatever challenges the future throws at them. Leadership coaching helps leaders understand and master the challenges of people-centric leadership.

Whether we can simplistically consider humans pack animals is up for debate. What we know is that we’ve evolved to use the power of the social group to enhance our survival and welfare. When we feel the group protects us, our natural reactions are to cooperate and trust.

According to the new paradigm of intelligent leadership, organizations are not mechanical entities whose purpose is to efficiently exploit human resources at their disposal. The modern organization is a group that makes its members feel safe and protected. Thus, its members work toward forwarding its interests.

The Power of People-Centric Organizations

People-centered corporate cultures are effective antidotes to the subtle, but voracious plagues of modern shareholders-first attitudes.

Many shareholder-owned companies place shareholder satisfaction above employee health and welfare. The leaders of such companies are the stewards of other people’s wealth, and their allegiances are well-defined. The shareholders-first way of thinking comes with two significant caveats that squarely undermine the long-term growth potential and viability of organizations.

  • Shareholders-first attitudes favor short-term results at the expense of long-term commitments and benefits. The new knowledge-focused global economy has grown more averse to such short-sightedness.
  • Shareholder-focused leadership neglects corporate social responsibility as it has no incentives to value it.

Through executive coaching, people-centric organizations become more capable of handling these challenges. The very fabric of these companies makes them more resilient, future-proof, and willing to embrace corporate trends of the future.

Balancing Stakeholders: The Conundrum Modern Leaders Must Solve

Shareholders invest their money in businesses and rightfully expect them to provide their portfolios with growth. Employees invest their lives in the success of organizations. They are stakeholders in organizations as well, and they deserve consideration when the time for big decisions comes.

The global pandemic pushed many companies to their limits. Many had to implement extreme measures like reducing worker hours to cut payrolls. Such moves cost many organizations valuable employees that they may find impossible to regain now during the Great Resignation.

The organizations that did their best to retain their employees’ benefits, such as healthcare, came out of the crisis better equipped to take on challenges of the future. Compassionate leadership made a real difference.

Committing to the Happiness and Well-Being of Employees

With people-centricity now being trendy, many organizations trumpet slogans and boldly “talk the talk” in this regard. As always, those that “walk the walk” are the ones setting the gold standard in employee-centricity. What does it mean to truly commit to the happiness and well-being of employees?

The answer lies in compassionate leadership and investing and committing to programs that facilitate employee success. Employee success doesn’t translate merely to making more money and securing more generous benefits.

Organizations like Marriott, for example, take pride in providing well-defined career advancement paths to employees. Genuinely human-centric organizations know that truly caring for people goes above titles and money-making opportunities.

Sharing tax cuts with employees by directing extra cash to their retirement accounts shows true commitment. Investing in programs that support work-life balances does the same. Implementing flexible parental leave programs is another way for companies to show they care.

Putting People First Is the Way to Go

Putting people first makes perfect sense for organizations. Employees who know a company takes care of them are more engaged and motivated to do their best. They have a sense of meaning and find it easy to develop psychological ownership of their work.

Helping a person up from the ground.
Employees like to belong to organizations that care for them.

Establishing an organizational culture that makes this type of engagement possible isn’t difficult, but many companies fail at it because they stop at the level of theoretical values and slogans.

Taking action and implementing concrete measures are the keys to building trust and engaging employees. This may be a challenge for many, but it is one worth undertaking. Leadership coaching can help leaders devise ways to successfully navigate the challenges of putting people first.

Contact us to learn more about how you can join the IL Movement as a coach or how you can benefit from partnering with us to bring IL Solutions to you and your organization.

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