The 3 Ways You Should Value the People Who Are Key to Your Business

Here’s what you need to do to keep the essential people in your business — employees, customers and vendors — satisfied and wanting to work for you and with you.


4 min read

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The following excerpt is from Jeffrey Hayzlett’s book The Hero Factor: How Great Leaders Transform Organizations and Create Winning Cultures. Buy it now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Apple Books | IndieBound

The true test of your values is having and living them — understanding what those values are, which ones are absolute, and which ones can evolve as you grow, listen to, and value others.

When I say “others,” I mean the people who connect to you and your business: the people who work with and for you, your customers and clients, your vendors and partners, your community, and even the environment.

When it comes to valuing others, your Hero Intensity can be found most broadly by looking at three things:

Related: Hero Intensity: The Second Part of Achieving an Executive Hero Factor

1. Culture

More than people living the values of the company and more than the mood of the organization, culture is the feel of the organization — or, more correctly, how its people make it feel, both individually and in teams. People are your greatest asset — strengths to be cultivated, not made to conform. There’s a great management mantra that goes something like: “My job as a manager is to coach you to succeed and grow in your job.” Great leaders don’t work alone, and they don’t claim all the glory for themselves. This requires skills many leaders find difficult to master:

  • Allowing your people to have the entrepreneurial independence to pur­sue and grow opportunities and possibilities while still demanding results
  • Aligning the values of the people who work for you with the values of the company so they share common goals
  • Listening — really listening — to your people and admitting when you’re wrong to create an environment of trust built on real relationships
  • Creating transparency by being open, honest, and vulnerable
  • Being decisive yet grounded by maintaining confidence through the chaos and uncertainty

Related: Operational Excellence: The First Part of Achieving an Executive Hero Factor

2. Inclusivity

The Hero Factor is about all people, not just people like you. That means bringing everyone — all kinds of people and their different perspectives — to the proverbial table and allowing them to impact decisions, directions, and growth. Hero companies always have time for diversity but not drama or distraction (Yes, boomers and beyond, that means Millennials, as well as the other identifiers that divide us, like gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality, political and religious beliefs, and so on.).

3. Giving back and more

How do you give back to your people, your community, and beyond? Ask yourself these questions:

  • How is the giving measured and directed?
  • Does it go beyond dollars?
  • How do you empower others in your organization to do and give more?
  • What will be the legacy you leave behind? What lasting impact will you have?

Related: 5 Steps for a Smooth and Successful (CEO) Exit

Of course, there will be exceptions to the things I mentioned above. For example, you may work in a local or national government agency or face hiring rules that give you less flexibility on how you can adjust the culture. You may face strict protocols that exist for the safety of your people and others that mandate absolute precision in the way certain tasks are performed. But are your people smiling while they perform those jobs? With a few cultural and other exceptions, like the Queen’s Guard at Buckingham Palace, most people don’t smile because they don’t want to — not because they’re not allowed.

In the end, make sure you aren’t using what you can’t do as an excuse for not doing anything else. You need to challenge the way things have always been done, and you need to do it more than once. One act of kindness or generosity does not move the needle from zero to hero. It takes hundreds or even thousands of values-driven, unselfish, unrecognized, often small acts every day — acts that are the foundation for the legacy you want to leave behind.

But don’t assume that legacy is a given. Heroes aren’t just made in a moment, and they’re not assured of staying heroes once they get there. Your Hero Factor index isn’t static. You need to keep coming back to this again, and again, and again, to ask yourself, “Do I still have the Hero Factor?”

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