For those of you who subscribe to your local business journal, you probably find like I do that it contains great information.  Not only does it keep you up to date with the local goings-on in your city but I find they have short articles that often carry little nuggets of wisdom. These nuggets serve as great reminders of what we as leaders should be focusing on and often forget.

In the October 1-7, 2010 edition of the South Florida Business Journal there was one such article.  The title of the article is “Leaders who genuinely care get the most out fo their sales force” written by Sean Stormes, chief growth strategist of a company called Speed to Revenue

What struck me about the article is that Sean is observing the same type of trends in sales that I have observed in technology and in corporate America as a whole.  That is, if a leader disengages from his or her staff, the team will reciprocate by disengaging as well.  I like how Sean describes it by saying “unengaged [employees] going about their business zombielike”. It’s so true.  Over the many years of being in a leadership position in corporate I have sadly seen how uncaring & ineffective leaders turn their staff into zombies.  The really sad part is they don’t even know they are doing it.  They are not in-tune with what is going on in their team, the challenges they are facing and whether or not they have the right people doing the job.

These leaders are so focused on their own agendas – pleasing their bosses, keeping their jobs, fighting fires – that they completely miss countless opportunities to leverage the talent in their staff to innovate, to better serve their customers, to step out in front & lead the charge.  Employees are very savvy and they are constantly watching us to see what we do.  If we don’t walk the talk, they know it & a part of them shuts down & stops caring.  Can you blame them?

The article goes on to describe the stark difference with good leaders.  These are the ones that are engaged with their team, they inspire them & connect with them.  Most importantly, as Sean says,  good leaders “…take a genuine and intense interest in each [employee's] personal development”.  Showing you care is what makes all employees committed and engaged.  And yes, I can tell you from experience that this also includes the Gen Yers in your team.

When I present my C.A.R.E.  System of Leadership to my clients, I tell them the most important components are the C for Connect and the E for Experiment. Without a personal connection to their boss, most employees will exhibit varying degrees of that  zombie-like state that Sean referred to.  Can’t you remember situations in your own career where your boss was so disconnected or ineffective that you were not on your best game?  Maybe that’s happening to you now & unconsciously it’s being reflected in how you work with your team. 

The zombie reference in the article reminded me that Halloween is approaching. Why don’t we use the time leading up to it to reflect on whether or not the zombie workforce is increasing under our watch.  As I visit clients, I can see a lot of zombies walking around and sadly no one is doing anything about it.  As leaders we are often too close to see it.  That’s why it’s so important for us to step back often and see what others see.  If you ask others for feedback, they will always share.  The question is:  are you scared to try?