Jul 05

Are Your Employees Thriving or Surviving Under Your Leadership?

By Alex Bunch, July 2016

A paycheck, benefits and a few days off will do little to earn an employee’s respect, trust and lifelong loyalty.

Over the course of 23 years, I have had the distinct privilege of working for, and with, some of the world’s most extraordinary companies, their leaders and associates. Regardless of what country they were from, what company they worked for, or how many degrees they had, or didn’t have, there are two distinct traits that separated great visionary leaders from the rest.

These visionary men and women have a seemingly superhuman ability to let go of being “right” about every decision that needs to be made. You know, “I’m right, you’re wrong. End-of-discussion. Goodbye!” The belief that you and you alone hold the answers to all of your company’s challenges will kill productivity and creativity, and ensure you never get open and honest communication from those who work with you. They will do their best to survive you and your leadership until the next opportunity at another company comes along. And if they stay, it’s even worse, as you’ll amass an army of insufferable “yes” men and women.

The second seemingly superhuman trait these leaders all possess is the ability to see their company, their people, and every opportunity and challenge that arises from different points-of-view, while mitigating their idea of perfection.

We all have points-of-view, ideas of what constitutes perfection, and a set of opinions that have been slowly baking since we were children, influenced by life experiences, our families, our culture, friends, books, movies and so on. It’s inherently human, and we use those to guide ourselves through the gauntlet of life. The poison lies not in having a point-of-view, ideas of perfection or opinions, but in believing that yours are indeed the gospel, the law, or an indisputable truth. That there is one right way and it’s your way.

The greatest leaders inherently know that their point-of-view is one way of looking at a particular topic or challenge, and afford those who work for and with them, the opportunity they deserve to have their own as well. They are objective, open-minded and engage in a constructive debate if necessary. They are capable of putting their egos aside, and never take on the persona of the high and mighty judge, closing the case before hearing other points-of-view that could make valuable contributions to the topic at hand. And most importantly, they never look down on anyone. Ever. For any reason. Ever. No one, including yourself, can possibly live up to your expectations of perfection anyway, and it’s exhausting being the only perfect person in your life. Right?

The greatest leaders foster an environment of mutual respect and trust, one that opens the door to honest dialogue, collaboration and solidarity. Cultures that have people beating down the door to join them on their mission with the promise of a bright future, of being heard, and being valued for their contributions. Respected. At the end of the day, isn’t that what we all want?

Alex Bunch is the Chief Creative and Marketing officer of The Woodlands Financial Group (TWFG) based in The Woodlands, Texas. You may submit suggested topics for future business columns to him at or through the editor of this publication.

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