By Daniel Stringer
Many small business owners have adopted the philosophy that “no one will care as much or work as hard as the owner.” While this may be true of individual circumstances, painting the entire entrepreneurial landscape with this broad brush is really far from accurate. Sure, if employees don’t have a stake in the company, they may not carry the same weight or responsibility as those who do, but the reality is someone’s work ethic, character, and commitment are not all motivated by simply the ownership percentage he/she may or may not have. If that were the case, you wouldn’t see any employee going above and beyond; taking the company they work for to the next level through hard work and dedication. You would never see teams come together weathering through tough economic times to regain success and overcome challenge. You would never see a young professional give his/her entire career advancing through the ranks of an organization making an impact in ways too vast to even define.
So why is it that entrepreneurs, leaders, and managers seem to see their teams and employees more as a necessary evil rather than a valued asset? Instead of believing in their team, they are just waiting for them to fail only to reinforce this belief that “no one will care as much or work as hard as the owner”.
We’ve seen a shift in our culture over the last 50 years or more. There is a lack of loyalty between the employees and the companies who employ them. The above saying is common enough but what if the cultural shift we’ve seen also has to do with this idea: “Leaders, Managers, and Owners will always care more and fight to protect their own interests before the consideration of those they employ and lead.” While I don’t think this should be true, I wonder how often it is true…
A leader doesn’t have to say these words to communicate to the team that they are expendable, valued for what they produce over who they are, and protected only when in the best interest of the owner, leader, and/or manager.
Loyalty isn’t something to be demanded from those you lead. It’s something to be inspired by first demonstrating it. Respect is earned before reciprocated. Trust is given once proven.
Entrepreneurs and leaders can fault the disloyalty and lack of commitment on the part of the working population but will never find a solution to this until their leadership is first analyzed. A leader leads from the front. A committed team responds to a committed leader. A loyal team responds to a loyal leader. A trustworthy team responds to a trustworthy leader. And a team capable of working and caring far more to advance the mission of the organization than even those who have a stake in the equity is possible. But it starts at the top.
We’ve had employees who do not carry forward the vision of our company like we do. And they’ve had to make the transition off the team. But we also have team members who work harder, have greater skill, and just as much passion for what they do than anyone else who could fill their role. Great organizations are not built on the commitment of one person but on the backs of a team who all adopt the vision as their own; advancing it forward with passion, commitment, and determination to see it fulfilled.
Daniel Stringer is a successful entrepreneur and musician and has traveled all over the world. While touring with the Phoenix Boys Choir in 1999, he recorded the world-renown CD, Penderecki’s Credo at the Oregon Bach Festival, which later went on to win a Grammy Award in 2001 for Best Choral Performance. He founded and managed the non-profit organization, Phoenix Rock For Life, and has built 2 successful companies since: Total Care Connections and Stringer Associates. He was ranked as one of the top 35 entrepreneurs under 35 years old for 2010 and his company has been featured on PBS, Phoenix Magazine, AZCentral.com, Arizona Republic, and Inside Business.