Why do we assume that numbers and people must be mutually exclusive elements for leaders? This question was inspired by a participant in a Contagious Leadership class this week and it made me think. Aren’t numbers something leaders focus on and couldn’t it be argued that without people there would be no numbers to track? But without numbers, people wouldn’t get paid or stay employed?
The answer to both is yes, but that begs the question: How do you focus on both without making them activities that happen in two separate silos? Answer? Build windows and doors in your silos. Okay, seriously, a better answer: find a way to utilize both your left and right brain, focusing more development attention on the one that is not natural.
Pay attention to people outside of seeing them as line items on the P and L or as Human Capital hash marks. The whole phrase Human Capital makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, but it was invented for those analytical or task focused leaders who need to be reminded of the people element and who candidly wish to track the costs associated with people issues and production. This is an important piece to be sure or the business will fail and the “close the doors” party will be lackluster. However, those who are task focused, do still CARE about people on a personal level, they just have to work at it consciously. Remind yourself that saying hello, walking around, recognizing contributions, and being a bit more social is highly motivating and important to the people oriented persons you lead.
Recognize that if you don’t track the numbers, you’ll have to conduct many a conversation on how “We can no longer afford to do the things you like Bob” or “Bob, we have to let you go.” One of the best things you can do for the people you lead is ensure that you still have payroll to give them the opportunity to do the job they love or at least have grown accustomed to doing and using to pay their mortgage. Consciously remind yourself that with every “yes” you share to an employee who asks to spend money, because you want them to like you and think highly of you because you said yes, costs money out of the budget you might need for their next paycheck. Remember that people are an expense who can also produce revenue and that in order to thrive you must hold them accountable to that or merely enjoy the great big party you’ll have right before you all go work with someone else.
Leadership is not an easy skill that comes naturally to most. It also isn’t instilled instantly when you get a promotion. And what if you could hone your leadership skills and learn how to effectively mesh together the need to focus on the numbers and develop the people you lead? You can. Register for the Contagious Leadership One Day Executive Retreat and learn how to develop the skills that may not be natural to you that we’ve discussed above.
Remember, it takes numbers AND people to make your department or your division or your company work. You may not be good at both, but you could be with a few simple steps. Or you could just keep referring to everyone as human capital and watch how that all works out for you and the team….