Every Leader Should Be Asking ‘How’m I Doin?’

“I am so sad… someone I know resigned today. Not for a new job but because they could not work with their employer anymore. The person chose their health and sanity over their job. When I listened to the reasons, I shed a tear.”

That was a quote from a posting of a friend on Facebook. The reasons — and she listed a few — were heart-breaking to read:

  • Constantly being berated in front of coworkers.
  • Whatever you do is not good enough.
  • Walking on egg shells as not to anger management.
  • People consistently crying.
  • Managers totally out of control.
  • Leadership playing favorites.
  • Everyone trying to get out.

Health and your sanity vs. a paycheck

This person was not going to wait for that call to come with a job offer. She grabbed her belongings, resigned and walked out. “My health and sanity is more important than any job” was for me the operative phrase.

As the Godfather said, “How did things get so far?”

As you read this you, like me, know of these kinds of environments, and like me, you may have been in these same situations. The reason that this Facebook post caught my eye was that at one time I was caught up in the same whirlpool. My solution was her solution. One of my peers, another executive, told me she was also quitting: “I will not put myself through this any longer, my health is too important.”

I turned that over in my mind for a few weeks till I got the courage to resign. I thank her to this day for giving me clarity from her struggles. She did not know at the time what a profound statement that she was making.

You will know

As I have told this story over the years, I caution people to not make a rash decision when faced with that type of situation. But when it crosses your personal line in the sand, that’s the trigger. So often we as humans will ignore our body signals. The signs are there, thumping into our soul like a bad headache. Ignore at your own peril.

I was told by a young lady the other day how her weekends have now become miserable. We all may go through the Sunday evening blahs. When that feeling starts Saturday, you are in a danger zone. When the energy level of weekend is damaged, it means you are adding two more days of stress to your situation: The warning lights are flashing at high beam!

But what to do? This young lady mentioned that she is networking, sending out resumes to over a hundred companies, yet getting nothing in response. While I do not advocate being reckless, eventually something will have to give — either your mental health or your job.

Leaders must step up to the plate

While every company website on the planet paints a great picture about mission, values, etc., the vast majority of times it is just words with NO MEANING BEHIND THEM.

To every leader of an organization today: You should take the time to go back and read those words. Follow up with your core team to make sure that everyone is on the same page. By core team I am talking the top of the pyramid. As you spend time on strategy, business development, growth, etc. remember this: PEOPLE are the key to the equation. Take those words, and like an actor in a movie, take that script and live it to the max. Let your employees give you the Academy Award Leader of the Year.

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As my last post mentioned, your employees are the PEOPLE OF THE YEAR. You are nothing without creating an employee experience that rivals all your competitors. You will not make it without them. Everything you create can be duplicated, but the strengths of that employee matrix, that is all yours to max out.

As a leader, if you notice bad behavior you can’t put your head in the sand and hope it will go away. Indecision is a decision and every action – or inaction — sends a message. I do not care who they are, if they mistreat someone and through development or coaching do not turn it around, show them the exit sign.

How are you doing?

We must all do better. We must all engage in self-reflection and open discussion, consistently trying to get better. A “True Leader” is a work in progress. What are you doing to get better? What is the feedback from your team? If you do not know, ASK THEM!

As a former mayor of New York City was so fond of asking, “How’m I doin’?” If you are afraid to ask your team or your employees that question, just maybe you are not what you think you are.

So as an action item, at your next team meeting, start off by asking your team that question. Hey it has to start somewhere. Let it start with you.

And the award for the Leader of the Year goes to…

Ron Thomas is Managing Director, Strategy Focused Group DWC LLC, based in Dubai. He is also a senior faculty member and representative of the Human Capital Institute covering the MENA/Asia Pacific region.

He was formerly CEO of Great Place to Work-Gulf and former CHRO based in Riyadh. He holds certifications from the Human Capital Institute as Global Human Capital Strategist, Master Human Capital Strategist, and Strategic Workforce Planner.

He's been cited by CIPD as one of the top 5 HR Thinkers in the Middle East. He received the Outstanding Leadership Award for Global HR Excellence at the World Human Resources Development Congress in Mumbai, and was named as one of the 50 Most Talented Global HR Leaders in Asia

Ron's prior roles included senior HR positions with Xerox HR services, IBM, and Martha Stewart Living.

Board memberships include the Harvard Business Review Advisory Council, McKinsey Quarterly's Executive Online Panel, and HCI's Expert Advisory Council on Talent Management Strategy.

His work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Inc. Magazine, Workforce Management and numerous international HR magazines covering Africa, India and the Middle East.

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