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20th-Century Myth: Humans are a Resource.

Like any resource, to maximize profits they must be exploited.  The company that manages its human capital most efficiently, most cost-effectively, will be most profitable. It’s simple math.

Welcome to automation. Welcome to outsourcing. Welcome to eliminating positions and cramming the ex-employees’ work onto the remaining-employees’ to-do lists. Welcome to paying just enough to match the market. Welcome to scrimping on benefits, to follow-the-leader packages that are comparable to the big guys.

21st-Century Fact: Your People Are Your Business.

If you were to start a company today, who would you rather employ: a team you’ve poached from Google, or from Bob’s Discount IT Shop? The manager from your local Lexus dealership, or from New-2-U Cars down by the bus station?  A CFO from Deloitte, or from Aardvark Discount Taxes?

If I were to start another business, I would set one goal for myself as leader: create a firm that earns a spot on the Best Companies To Work For list. Each state has one for its SMB employers, and if you get big enough, Fortune publishes its top 100 list for American companies each year.

Why bother? Google, Lexus, Deloitte, the others on the Top Employers’ lists: their personnel costs are through the roof! They pay more; they spend more on their benefits – much more! Who can afford that?

Who can afford not to compete for top talent? That’s my question!

I’m competitive. I like to test myself, and I really like to win. That’s one big reason I enjoy business so much. I’ll bet you do, too. That’s why you’re reading a blog post on improving your leadership edge, isn’t it?

So here’s the thing. If you’re building a team – business, sports; any kind of team – doesn’t it make sense to attract the best players? And how do you do that?

Here’s the surprise ending: I saved the best for last. You see, it turns out pay, benefits, and other “expenses” (a savvy leader would say “investments”) don’t tell the whole story. Just ask Daniel Pink, author of Drive. Sure, you have to invest enough in your people to make them relax about money, so they can concentrate on their work rather than their bills. But you know what people really want at work?

  • People want meaning. They want to do work that matters. This may sound touchy-feely, but people want to know their work is going to make the world a better place in some significant way.
  • People want autonomy. They want to be treated like adults. They want to know what their goal is, and then be given the latitude to accomplish it creatively. In other words, they want work to engage all of their brains, and in so doing, they want work to develop themselves – as problem-solvers and as people.
  • People want camaraderie. They want belonging. The number one reason we look for new employers isn’t for better pay, it’s because we dislike our direct boss or because we haven’t connected adequately with our colleagues.

Not one of those three considerations need cost your company any more money than you currently spend! But please don’t be penny wise, pound foolish with your people. Money starts the conversation. Pay is a sign of an employer’s respect for her people. Skimp here, the game is over before it starts. Just ask Google.

…Then, ask Google why it chose “Don’t be evil” as its unofficial motto.

Are you ready for leadership in the 21st Century? Or are you already halfway out the door?

Republished from Ted’s previous blog.

About Ted Coiné

Ted Coiné is CEO of The Extraordinary Network, a group that is rewriting all the rules of influencer marketing by cutting out agency middlemen to work directly with B2B and luxury brands. Proud “bleeding heart capitalists,” he and his team have built support of a great cause into every for-profit campaign they undertake.

His entire career, Ted has collected fascinating people, most notably other thought leaders who also have a large and loyal audience of large enterprise leaders. He has watched the Wild West that is influencer marketing until he realized an opportunity to fix this broken system, and give influencers the sway they need to move markets together, and to get paid what they’re deserved for this power they bring to bear.

An Inc. Top 100 Speaker and one of Business News Daily’s 15 Twitter Accounts Every Entrepreneur Should Follow, Ranked #1 authority on the Social CEO and #3 in the Future of Work, Ted is also a serial business founder and CEO.

Ted is a Forbes Top 10 Social Media Power Influencer and an Inc. Top 100 Leadership Expert. This stance at the crossroads of social and leadership gave Ted a unique perspective to identify the demise of Industrial Age management and the birth of the Social Age. The result, after five years of trend watching, interviewing and intensive research, is his latest book, A World Gone Social: How Companies Must Adapt to Survive.

He lives in Naples, Florida, with his wife and two daughters.

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