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Make everybody feel like somebody

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers,Management Training

At a pivotal moment in the late1960s, both presidential candidate Richard Nixon and future presidential candidate Jesse Jackson were saying essentially the same thing.

Nixon told voters they represented a “silent majority” of Americans, their voices drowned out amid the tumult of the times but who could speak volumes at the polls.

Jackson led congregations in his famous proclamation: “I … am …somebody!” His statement answered the writings of Ralph Ellison, whose novel Invisible Man described the black people whom the white majority refused to recognize.

Both men played upon people’s desire to matter.

Thirty-six years later, that message cries out for leaders to acknowledge. Yet, witness the latest round of charges that Wal-Mart, Toys “R” Us, Taco Bell and others are shaving hours from the time records of hourly employees. How does a person feel like somebody if his or her hours worked don’t even count?

As a leader, you need to treat people fairly and empower them by asking questions and acting on their answers. Here’s a sampling of the best questions we’ve found:
  • “How does your work contribute to our success?”
  • “How can we save money?”
  • “How could you make your job more effective?”
  • “What prevents you from doing your job?”
  • “What does our leadership team do that prevents you from doing your job?”
  • “What recent management decision didn’t you understand?”
  • “If you could change one thing about our collective behavior, what would it be?”
Write down the answers. Then, go fix things.

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