Advice & stories from a former MMA fighter

Good Leaders Fight For Their People

boss-vs-leaderI once worked for a manager who was a complete pushover. Her boss would ask her to jump and she’d say “how high?” In fact, her boss might has well have been my boss, because she pretty much ran the show for our whole team. She never let our actual manager do her job — lead her team in the direction we should go in order for our department, and the company as a whole, to be successful. It’s like as soon as she discovered that our manager was a pushover, she capitalized on the situation.

Our manager eventually got fired and was replaced by someone who was basically a complete 180-degree turn from what we’d been used to. When this new guy came in, he did something that made me want to keep my job, where before I’d spend half my days scouring for other options.

He fought for us.

Good leaders fight for their people.

There’s a pretty popular saying out there: “if you stand for nothing, you’ll fall for anything.” I wholeheartedly believe that’s true. Good leaders stand up for their people. If you believe in your people, you’ll fight for them. You’ll stand up to your boss’s boss, pushing back on stupid policies (even going so far as to call them stupid, if necessary), so that your people have a better experience when they come to work.

Optimizing employee experience is key to optimizing customer experience. After all, your employees are the face of your company. They are the ones who determine what kind of experience your customers will have. And in a fast-paced, digital society, where people are paying bigger bucks for better experiences, your employees sure as hell better matter to you.

This new manager pushed back on stupid policies that were making our jobs harder and negatively affecting our productivity. He implemented new policies that just. made. sense. And you should have seen how happy we became as a result.

He didn’t just change a few policies though. He literally changed our job descriptions. We went from doing menial, soul-crushing, task-based work, where quantity mattered most, to doing work that we enjoyed, that activated our brains on a daily basis. Work that counted quality above quantity, and above everything else for that matter. We went from sitting in isolated cubicles for 8 hours straight with our headphones in and music blaring to actively participating in meetings, where people appreciated our input as experts in our field. We went from being bored and actively disengaged to being stimulated and actively engaged in the work we did every day. Suddenly, our jobs mattered.

This guy also took the time to ask us how we were doing on a daily basis. And he genuinely cared about the answer. He wanted to get to know us personally and took the time to find out what made us tick. By tailoring our work to what he knew would keep us motivated, he engaged us and made us want to work hard.

Good leaders do this. They fight for their teams, because their teams are worth more than anything. Their teams will make or break their success as leaders, upon which the success of the entire business hinges.

If you’re a leader, I challenge you to fight hard. Fight hard for what matters. Fight hard for your people and they’ll work hard for you.

Josh Davis

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