Leaders make people feel important

If you’ve been reading this blog lately, you know there are a lot of things that leaders need to do:

And the list goes on…you can see all my mantras over here.

But one of the things we don’t talk about a lot is the need to make people feel important. And yet, when you don’t, you lose people.

You may not be into US Men’s Soccer – after all, they didn’t even qualify for the World Cup. That sentence may be one you truly struggle with if you’ve never heard of soccer, world cup, and know that there is actually a men’s national soccer team.

But if you knew anything about it, or followed anything related to it, you would know that we lost a very valuable player recently, to Mexico. You can read the damning interview that puts blame directly on leadership. But for those who don’t pay attention to soccer, let me give you the short version and see if it applies to you world at all.

Jonathan Gonzalez was discovered thru a talent search and development organization for soccer focused on Latinos. It was founded and run by Brad Rothenberg, who this past week did that interview about Jonathan’s recent decision to leave US national soccer and head to play for the Mexican national team.

Here are some of the quotes I found most interesting:

  • “I’ve grown tired of watching our federation neglect this community.”
  • “This is about the people in Mexico who made him feel worthy and respected.”
  • “When talking to Alonso and Mireya, Jonathan’s parents, it was clear that Dennis, [Mexico head coach] Juan Carlos Osorio, coaches and administrators at the FMF had shown Jonathan attention on a personal level that far exceeded the efforts of our Federation.”

I had a counselor years ago say that people are motivated by love and acceptance. When they can’t find that, they focus on accomplishment. It was like a 2×4 that hit me over the head because I was in that “accomplishment” camp, always working hard to achieve. But more importantly, it was also how I worked with others – focused on their achievements and performance.

Sometimes it’s easier to make sure that we’re not missing the fact that we need to make people feel important. Just listening to them, paying attention to them, engaging and spending time with them – all says they’re valued. And that’s the first motivator.

Here’s what I know: if we don’t help people feel connected, engaged and important, we’ll lose them. And that’s not good.

Agree? Disagree? Hit me up on twitter.