One of the reasons I wanted to be an entrepreneur was that I could work for myself and let other people work for me. I could be the boss. They would do what I asked – they had to because I pay them.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
The world has changed. Employee loyalty isn’t what it used to be – or at least people are changing jobs much more often in their careers these days. People focus more on their own lifestyle and work-life balance than on a job for life with the same employer.
I’ve learned that no one really works for you, even if you pay them. People only work for themselves. Think about it, do you think many or any of your employees would stay with you if you gave them $10 million? Unlikely.
Do you think people get job satisfaction and satisfaction from being told what to do? New. They want at least autonomy. They want to feel like they are working for themselves and making their own decisions. To be an intrapreneur at the very least – to manage their own business within your company.
They don’t work to make you rich. They don’t work on being your lap dog. And as soon as they feel like it, they will either leave or decide to leave as soon as they no longer need you. It will only be a matter of time.
They work to pay their mortgage and bills. They work to earn time and freedom for the family. They work to live, not live to work. Some work because they combine their passion with their profession. Others so that they can build up enough money and experience to set up their own business (probably in competition with you). Others to earn their retirement so they can eventually “fire their boss.” That’s you, by the way.
So the first step to being a better leader is to do a reality check. Know that people don’t work for you, they only work for themselves.
Then figure out what they work for and link those reasons (known as values) to the job they have with you. Their values are most important to them. Family. Money. Freedom. Progression. So associate their function, key result areas, and the results you want them to achieve to their highest values. This is how you work with and for each other.
Give money as a reward for results. Family time as a bonus for deliverables. Location freedom with certain remotely executable tasks. Successfully completed growth to management and leadership for autonomous projects.
Finally, you need to change your language. Remember: they work of you, not for you. Or go one step further, you might actually work for them. After all, without them you have no leverage. Without them you are not an entrepreneur, you are a stressed out one man band, under the illusion that you are a business owner. The company owns you.
Instead of expecting all of your employees to do a great job for you, how about doing great work for them as a support leader? What about you making sure they can do their job to the best of their ability, aligned with their highest values, with the greatest amount of autonomy and satisfaction?
Give them all the resources they need. Give them clarity about their role. Match your results to their highest values. Then get out of the way and let them do it while you support them through the challenges. Could they then work harder and longer and better? Could they work for you, for themselves?
And remember: if you risk nothing, you risk everything.