By John Spence, one of the top 100 business thought leaders in America and top 500 leadership development experts in the world
Recently I did a study of more than 10,000 high-potential employees at leading companies around the world. The people I interviewed were the best of the best, the sort of employees that any organization would love to have on their team. I call this type of person a “voluntary employee,” because they are so good at what they do that if they quit their job at 9 in the morning they would have a job at the competition by noon. Which means they work at a certain company because they want to, not because they have to.
SO, I ASKED THEM THIS QUESTION: “WHY DO YOU WORK WHERE YOU WORK?” HERE IS WHAT THEY TOLD ME.
- Fair pay, which they defined as 10 percent above or below what they would make to do the same job anyplace else.
- Meaningful/challenging work. It was important to feel like they were using all their skills and talents to do something important.
- Cool colleagues. It’s straightforward; A-players only want to play on a team with other A-players.
- Winning culture. They want to work in a company with a fun, supportive, and enjoyable environment.
- Personal and professional growth. They want their employer to invest in their continual growth and improvement, and they want a clear career path to move up in the organization.
- And the most important element: They want to work for a leader they respect and admire.
WHICH LED ME TO MY NEXT QUESTION: “WHAT ARE THE CHARACTERISTICS OF A LEADER YOU WOULD WILLINGLY FOLLOW?”
- Honesty. More than 90 percent of the respondents listed this as the single most important thing they look for in their leader.
- Competence. An effective leader needs to be highly competent at their job and in their leadership skills.
- Courage. They expect a great leader to make tough decisions and take bold risks, but what they wanted was a leader who was courageous enough to admit they didn’t have all the answers. Another word they used here was “Authentic.”
- Communication skills. The two skills they said were most important were asking great questions and being an intense listener.
- Team player. They wanted a leader who would treat them as a partner and peer, not just an employee.
- Empathy. A leader who realized that they had a life outside of the company that was as, or more important than, their job.
I believe that the lists above outline what it takes to attract, retain, and lead the very best people in your industry.