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Nov 2, 2015
This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.

“Black Friday is the perfect time to remind ourselves of the essential truth that life is richer, more connected and complete when you choose to spend it outside. We’re closing our doors, paying our employees to get out there,” said Jerry Stritzke, the president and CEO of REI, the specialty outdoor retailer, in a press release.

He added: “We think that Black Friday has gotten out of hand and so we are choosing to invest in helping people get outside with loved ones this holiday season, over spending it in the aisles.”

Not only that, but REI is closing down their website that day as well.

A group of retail chains, including Nordstorm and Costco, announced they wouldn’t open on Thanksgiving. Some framed it as giving their employees a break before the holiday season, and others hoped their action would elicit the goodwill of their customers.

Something is in the air

Jack Dorsey, the Twitter co-founder who was recently reinstalled as chief executive, is giving away a third of his shares in the messaging platform to employees.

“As for me: I’d rather have a smaller part of something big than a bigger part of something small. I’m confident we can make Twitter big!” he tweeted.

When a company is sold, employees often worry about their futures. But when food ordering company Yemeksepeti was sold, the firm’s CEO, Nevzat Aydin, gave them something they weren’t expecting: $27 million in bonuses, to be exact, to be split among his 114 employees.

“We did this because if there is a success, we have accomplished it altogether,” he told Turkish newspaper Hurriyet.

A trending coming from the C-Suite

I’m noticing more and more of these C-Suite initiatives lately. I, for one, am beyond thrilled.

This is the new level of leadership. This is not taught in any off site meeting. No, this is about doing the right thing — and that cannot be taught in an off site or any leadership course.

All those pseudo leaders of the rah-rah variety that always spout buzzwords about the “importance of their people” need to take a look at this and get a real lesson in what authentic leadership is all about.

Each one of these executives was doing no more than what we were all (hopefully) taught. We were schooled in sharing from the time we were in preschool. There was never a lesson, as far as I remember, about hoarding all the goodies for ourselves.

In a lot of these cases, the employees were the brick layers to the leader’s role as the architect. The leader may have created the vision, but it was the work of the employees who ultimately made it happen.

They carried the bricks and the mortar, day-in and day-out, through both sunshine and rain to make this happen. So why not honor and reward them when the opportunity presents itself?

We often read articles about employee engagement, and each year the tally shows that the vast majority of companies have low engagement scores. They try add all sorts of perks to try and manufacture upticks in these engagement scores, however living the mission of your organization and doing the right thing will outmatch any phony perk that you can offer.

Someone always keeps score

Leaders should remember that someone is always watching and keeping score. Backroom deals, unethical behavior, playing favorites, taking all the credit, these are all engagements killers. Yet we plow ahead to come up with an idea that is going to be a game changer.

But, there is no perk available that can’t be duplicated by another competitor.

It’s your positive actions and the actions of your organization that cuts a clear path through the clutter and connects to your most important asset. Trying to artificially connect with your base can be spotted a mile away. They know, and they shake their heads at your efforts to connect with fake actions.

Our workforce is getting smarter and they will not be hoodwinked by your false efforts and mountainous platitudes. As the demographics change and skew younger, your days are numbered.

My advice is go back to what you were instructed when we you small and just learning life’s lessons. Yes, share, play nice and say thank you were hallmarks of all that era.

However, somewhere along the corporate ladder, we took on a different behavior. It’s time to go back to what we learned about how to treat people so long ago.

This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.
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