While comparing leadership to parenting, he asks if your family is going through a hard time, will you lay off one of your children?
The answer to this is obviously no. Simon Sinek also talks about this in one of his TED talks on great leaders. If a child in a family comes home with a D, parents will most likely try their best to present him or her with opportunities to do better the next time and in future. However, this is not the case in businesses. If an employee does not have a satisfactory performance (which is mostly judged on the basis of unfair and subjective performance reviews), that employee has a higher likelihood of being laid off. Organizations which operate on such principles do not have great leaders.
Great leaders are people who are empathetic. These are the bosses who put the interest of their employees before them. It is never the number game for them. They put people before numbers and try their best to handle the situation accordingly. Such leaders are also good for businesses as they help earn more respect for themselves and the organization. More and more employees voluntarily follow and admire them. If an organization plummets for any reason, great leaders ensure that they keep their employees safe and find a solution that is mutually agreeable to all.
Charlie Kim has set a great example in this regard. He introduced a lifetime employment policy at NextJump which states that an employee can never get fired because of performance issues. If at all there is a lack of optimal performance, that employee will be hand-held, guided, coached and given all those opportunities that can help him become a better professional. The key here is to hire the right people so that organizations are sure from the very start about the potential of a candidate. Smart and thoughtful recruitment is extremely crucial and organizations need to do this better so that they are sure of who they are giving a chance to, from the very beginning.
When organizations take care of their employees to such an extent, they make them feel safe. And according to Simon Sinek, the natural response to feeling safe is to offer trust and cooperation. When your employees trust you as a leader, they will sail with you through the biggest crisis. This is because they believe in your cause and you as a change maker. On the other hand, if a leader is only listened to because of his authoritative position, employees will not admire or follow them because they want to, but because they have to. And doing anything with force never works in the long run. Genuine followership has to be organic. Such employees will eventually become unhappy and quit.
This is why when leaders lay people off or do not make their employees feel safe in an organizational environment, they are likely to get pissed off and leave. Employees are also constantly looking for a place where they can truly belong and make a difference. And they will do this under the leadership of a person who values people and their emotions. They will stand by organizations whose leaders have won their trust over time by taking the right actions and displaying the right attitudes. Leaders need to provide an environment where every person is given the opportunity to learn and do remarkable things.
If there are performance issues with an employee, sit and talk to the person. A frank conversation about the changes in performance can reveal true reasons behind it. Reasons can vary from personal problems to being overwhelmed with too much work or experiencing a sense of burnout. Try and understand these issues first. There are also employees who might not be comfortable sharing their problems. This is why leaders need to step in and make a change. Re-engage such employees and provide the best you can to make them a whole lot happier, and ultimately, a whole lot productive.
In the same manner, leaders also recognize and award talent with top performance. They continuously inspire good behavior and show examples of being a great professional through their own attitude. It is only through great leaders that we can handle our employees better and retain them for long. They also coach managers to elicit the same behaviors so that leadership qualities trickle down the entire organization.