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Would they work for you again?

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in Leaders & Managers

Anu Shukla didn’t know when she started out in the tech industry 17 years ago that treating her people like “prize stallions” would inspire their best work and induce them to follow her anywhere.

She didn’t know then, but she knows now.

At first, the marketer figured she’d coerce her staff into completing their work by barking orders. As she job-hopped at tech companies and eventually started her own firm, she learned that removing obstacles, following suggestions and patiently working at buy-in yielded better results. She also learned that acknowledging dependence on her most talented people improved retention. Loyalty became a happy by product.

“It was a very competitive time in the technology industry, with companies all stealing talent from each other,” Shukla told The Wall Street Journal. “I saw the value of working with people over time and making sure they stuck with me.”

When she sold her company for $366 million in 2000, some of those employees from the early days were still with her. When she asked for helpers in a new start-up two years ago, a dozen people volunteered to work for free. She now employs a number of them. Two of her former managers even invested in the venture.

Think of the bosses you’d work for again. What qualities did they possess? Did they listen to you? Did they argue passionately at times but trust your judgment? Did they fight for you? Did they tell compelling work stories? Did they push you to the next level in a way that would help your career as much as theirs?

Remember what they did and, in your own way, follow it.

— Adapted from “The Best Leaders Have Employees Who Would Follow Them Anywhere,” Carol Hymowitz, The Wall Street Journal.

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