Positive Leadership Breeds a Positive Workforce

Top tier members of the company hierarchy offer a strong example —
both for employees and onlookers — of the way that company conducts its
business. In today’s competitive market, the main business trait setting
one company apart from the rest is its leadership’s outlook and attitude.

  Rob Bell
  Rob Bell

After years of moving up the rungs in the supermarket industry, Rob
Bell, certified speaking professional at FOCUS Consulting LLC in Lancaster,
Wis., now dedicates his career to teaching leaders how to succeed, and how they
can help their employees succeed. The key, he said, is positive leadership.

“Positive leadership is about respecting the people with whom we
work, and recognizing up front that our first and most important customers are
the people with whom we work,” he said.

If those employees enjoy themselves at the office, they will remain
loyal to the business. It is easy to spot employees who are unhappy, Bell said.

“Are they happy to be there, or is this just a job? I hate it when
people quit and leave, but it’s worse when they quit and stay,” he

To keep employees — and to keep them engaged — you must treat
them with respect and appreciation. Business owners should put some dedicated
thought into making their companies great places to work.

“I’ve learned over the years that most people want two things
more than anything from a job: they want appreciation and they want to feel
that their opinion counts,” he told O&P Business News.

Instead of dictating how people should do their jobs, good leaders
listen to employees’ ideas and accept feedback to maintain a constructive

This tenet includes leading your team by your own example. Providing
employees with a positive experience equips them with the ability to pass on
that enthusiasm to those outside the company, including patients and other

“I’ve never run into a business that doesn’t say that
service is a high priority. But those words are cheap,” he said.
“Even the businesses that provide lousy service — it’s not in
their mission statement.”

People in management roles typically do not end inspiring company pep
talks with, “We’re going to offend some people today,” Bell
said. What they say in those speeches, however, has an impact on
employees’ desire to work harder for the company.

The best way to get employees to go the extra mile for patients or
clients is to inspire them.

“When we inspire the people with whom we work, we get them excited
about our services and our whole company,” he said. “That passion is

And that enthusiasm must be genuine and not fabricated, because people
can tell the difference, he added.

Another important aspect of being a good leader is providing
opportunities for your staff members to develop their own leadership skills.
Bell suggested asking employees where they envision themselves in the company
in the future to help define what he calls their roadmap.

Then, work with employees to prepare them for the opportunity once it
presents itself, so that they can be serious candidates, he said. This includes
the opportunity for continuing education classes and additional training, if
necessary, and even a shadowing program, so that employees can watch how their
colleagues perform in the jobs they want.

Without this type of on-the-job training, people can find themselves
moving up the ranks to leadership roles for which they are not prepared, simply
because they were adept at completing tasks and following instructions. Most
times, that is not enough.

“The most effective leaders have a good understanding of what their
skills are,” Bell said. “Then they surround themselves with people
who complement their skills.”

For example, if a leader lacks the ability to focus on certain details
of a project, then he should be sure to structure his team with someone who is
detail-minded. While it is important that team members and employees have a
good rapport, successful leaders build smart teams as well. — by
Stephanie Z. Pavlou


Rob Bell’s outlook on how positive leadership breeds a positive
workforce was, for me, another important reminder of just how fragile or
tenuous your company’s workforce culture can be and how it is bred and
propagated not only by the leaders’ attitudes and actions but by the
perceptions of those attitudes and actions by the very employees who facilitate
the day-to-day operations.

The good news is that a majority of O&P businesses are smaller and
so instilling a positive workforce culture based on employee appreciation,
happiness, engagement and respect for one another in the workplace should be an
easier task — mostly due to the fact that your actions/interactions as a
leader are more visible and more personal; thus able to be mimicked, practiced
and passed along to your customers, referrals and, perhaps most importantly,
new hires.

The bad news is that, because most O&P businesses are smaller,
leadership visibility, style and actions or not, are heightened and can easily
detract from employee satisfaction and appreciation.

Recognize that leadership is responsible for the workforce culture that
exists in the company. Dedicate yourself to becoming a partner in the workforce
to figure out what makes employees happy and appreciated and then act on it.
Always inspire your employees with enthusiasm and passion for what you do.

— Jeffrey M. Brandt, CPO
Chief executive
officer and founder, Ability Prosthetics & Orthotics Inc.

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