The recent heavy rains in the Philippines where some BPOs (business outsource process outsourcing companies) reportedly forced their employees to go to work got me thinking about the motivations behind corporate leaders. Some are of the opinion that companies are obviously there for profit, so this scenario should be expected. This kind of mentality pushes people into a state where rebellion or apathy seems like a viable option. But companies that are money-making behemoths and have no concern about the welfare of their employees should not be accepted as the stereotype. There are companies that are successful in letting values and profit co-exist in the corporate system. Take for instance Zappos, who has been known to “create a culture of happiness.” Or Google, which has been listed number one in Fortune’s list of 100 Best Companies to Work For in 2012.
Aside from perks such as health benefits and a good pay check, employees also place value in a company’s work environment. Whoever thinks a fat pay check is enough to make employees happy needs a hefty dose of reality. While this may work for employees who haven’t received a raise or promotion after long hours of work, it’s not the be-all and end-all of what many employees want from their job.
Company culture is largely determined by its leaders. You only have to look at Steve Jobs to see how a charismatic leader is able to steer his company. As an employee myself who worked in different types of industries (education, BPO, publishing, IT), here are the common things I have observed about what employees expect of their leaders:
1. Consistent – Employees need leaders who say what they mean and mean what they say. These are the managers and supervisors that command respect. Compare this to a leader who sways from one decision to the next, because he’s affected by his own biases.
2. Decisive – Leaders need to be able to decide quickly and wisely, especially in emergency situations. Some supervisors hold off decisions, because they need the “go signal” from the higher-ups. This is commendable, because it shows that the leader knows how to submit to higher authority, but this is NOT commendable when the situation involves people’s lives or another equally risky situation that needs speedy action. Leaders should learn to balance being subordinate to an authority’s decisions and taking the initiative when the situation calls for it.
3. Upright – A person who is upright has integrity, which is often equated to honesty. However, integrity is more than being truthful. It is soundness of moral character and ethical principles. This trait moves a leader to make wise decisions for his team and act consistently. It prioritizes doing the right thing over selfish motives.
4. Tech-savvy – Let’s admit it, one of the great divides between Gen Y and the previous generations is Gen Y’s technology. To be able to relate to the present generation and to be able to respond to the speed and global reach by which this world communicates, leaders have to be updated on tech trends like a cloud business phone service from RingCentral, CRM solutions from Zoho, or the latest mobile marketing strategies. This does not mean that they need to purchase every tech product there is. It only means that they know which ones will be most effective for their companies.
5. Empathy – I feel badly for companies that have intelligent leaders who have no heart for their employees. In fact, many employees I have spoken to and who have these types of managers are only waiting for better opportunities before they hand in their resignation papers. In contrast, employees who are given better opportunities hesitate from leaving employers who genuinely care for them.
6. Resourceful – Resourcefulness gets companies through tough times and challenges. It’s the way out when there seems to be no way out.
What about you? What essential traits are you looking for in a leader?