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An important advice for all leaders out there: Your people don't want just their paycheck

Christian Fernsby |
If you work in a good advertising agency, you are trained to ask a very important question: “Why should anybody care?”

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Seriously. Why should anyone care about your beer? Great taste? Less filling? Who knows? Or your car? Is it sexy? Is it priced well? Does it get good gas mileage? Does any of it matter?

And so you drill down. You do your homework. You start asking questions. Eventually, if you’re lucky, you’ll get some answers. And then, if you’re lucky, you’ll execute against those answers and watch your ad move the product off the shelf like nobody’s business, Gapingvoid writes.

Or not. It’s never certain. It’s never guaranteed. It’s a messy business because life is messy.

That being said, if you can figure out the reason the REAL reason why people should give a damn about your widget, you’ve got a shot.

You’ve got something to build on.

And so it is with leadership.

To lead people, you need to know, intellectually and emotionally, why people should follow you. Why they should care. Why it matters.

Sure, they want a paycheck. Sure, they want a job. But they want more than that. Granted, they may never be CEO, they may never be millionaire rockstars, but they still want their shot.

Their shot at what? Their shot at doing something that matters. Their shot at doing something worth talking about. Their shot at prying their life out of the jaws of mediocrity. And if they don’t get their shot, they’ll go elsewhere to find it. Or if they stick around, well, you wouldn’t want them on your team anyway.

The scary thing is, of course, is that when you question why anybody should give a hoot, the answer is “I have no idea”, or “Who the hell knows” or “There’s no reason for them to do so”.

And that leaves you up the creek, sans paddle. But that is what real leadership is. Often, the reason to care isn’t obvious. It’s your job to make it so.

What is the lesson here?

Yes, culture is all about purpose, motivation, and mattering; the way you lead your people is very much about understanding where they are, what they need.

Create the throughline on these emotions and you can build a beautiful thing- a place that all of your employees, customers, shareholders, and the media love.


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