Really! There is a shortage of qualified workers. Even for jobs that do not require specific or elaborate training, positions remain unfilled. We are in the middle of the Great Resignation. It is employers that should consider themselves lucky to have people working for them. The pendulum swings from one extreme to the other. I am lucky today, you are lucky tomorrow, and back and forth we go along the years. Leaders that use that kind of terminology, whatever their reasons or their aim, are missing the leadership boat and have embarked on the dictatorial raft. The same goes for employees trying to exert a long overdue need for assertiveness, even power. The use of such perspective is a barely disguised way to exercise power over other people, to try to control them and have our way with them, whatever side uses it.
It shows contempt, lack of respect, and tries to establish superiority over others. It generates anger, fear, retaliation, or negativism. In almost every case, it feeds the relentless movement of disengagement. True leaders strive to engage individuals on a journey of discovery and growth. They don’t use fear, coercion, manipulation, or authoritarianism. Veritable leaders lead the way in a manner that people want and desire to follow. They inspire others to be the best they can be.
Have you ever worked for an organization or a team that gained both your respect and dedication simply because it felt right? Have you at some point evolved with a group of people that respected each other sufficiently to be honest, even direct at times, but always in order for all to win, together? When is the last time you woke up in the morning, excited to start your working day, eager to dive into a project, knowing that your efforts would be of value, contribute to something and be recognized fairly? Do you feel that in spite of differences in opinions and styles, the people around you communicate openly, with the aim to understand?
Everybody has an agenda. Each of us has personal ambitions. There will likely always be leaders and followers. There will be individuals that are more famous than others. Many will be better than we are. Reality is that life, especially at work, is not always fair. Does this mean that we simply abandon the idea of working in a manner that lines up with respect of one another, valuing people and their contributions?
Years ago, I attended one of many conferences on the topic of strategic development during which the executive of a large Pharma company literally addressed sales representatives as “warm bodies that need to deliver a message as often as the data suggests it should be repeated”. Warm bodies. Think about it. Some may say “that was years ago, things have changed”. Have they? In the last 20 years, I have worked with over a hundred organizations and thousands of individuals to confirm what is captured in the second paragraph above. I have had the great privilege to meet incredible leaders that never dreamed of telling someone, anyone, that they should consider themselves lucky to have a job. What this statement is really telling people is that they may just be considered a worm body, a necessary disturbance.
Nobody is perfect. As businesses evolve, it is true that employees that have not evolved with the times may not be as valuable as they once were. It happens all the time. In many cases, it is incumbent on the organizations to have been lax in their development programs, or to have accepted to “not shake the tree too much” in fear of endangering the profit margins, accepting contributors/employees to remain in their comfort zone. At times, the easy answer was chosen at the cost of challenging individuals to move forward and grow. In other situations, employees have decided not to evolve and indeed “make hay while the sun shines”.
True leaders understand that very little gets done without dedicated and engaged people. Fear may work in the short term but, today even more so, this is very short lived and often condemns management to spend most of their valuable to rebuild or continually fix things rather than move forward in earnest. I will not tell anyone not to say to others that they are lucky to have a job, on the contrary. I will however encourage people that are told this to reconsider their investment and realize that it may be time for them to work with organizations that actually understand their value. I will also venture to say to leaders that if they even think of saying to others that they are lucky to have a job, to stop and think for a moment. Think about what they mean and what it means to think that way.