Why Give a Damn:

If you’re anything like I was back when I was a first-time entrepreneur, you’re probably worried about being a good leader. But the way most people address this fear is exactly wrong.

The author of this post, Chris Yeh, has been building internet businesses since 1995 and currently serves as the VP of Marketing for PBworks, as well as a General Partner at Wasabi Ventures.

Leadership isn’t about you; it’s about them. Tweet This Quote

Back when I started my first company, I was a 24-year-old wunderkind. I could rattle off my accomplishments—graduating at 19, seeing my work praised in the press, feeling like a big man on campus at Harvard Business School. What I didn’t like to talk about, but realized, was that I had never run a company. Oh sure, I had been a manager and led small teams, but I’d never had P&L, hiring-and-firing responsibility. And now I was trying to lead a company full of people with similar qualifications and way more experience. I’m pretty sure some of my VPs had been running business units bigger than my entire company… before I was born.

In response, I focused on making sure I was doing everything I could to be a good leader. I did things like dress more formally to set a good example, and I’d work on my speeches and pep talks. In other words, my focus was completely, entirely wrong.

What you need to understand (and hopefully learn at an earlier age than I did) is that leadership isn’t about you; it’s about them.

Employees don’t measure startup leaders based on how they look and how good they are at making speeches (we’ll save that for less important things like selecting the President of the United States). Rather, they want leaders who make good decisions, help them accomplish their goals, and care about them—in that order. Notice how fashion sense and oratorical skills didn’t make the list.

If you can’t make the company successful, advance their career, and make them feel wanted, employees won’t care that you have CEO hair and give great speeches at conferences. In fact, those things will make them dislike you even more.

Employees don’t ask what they can do for their leaders; employees ask what their leaders can do for them. Tweet This Quote

Conversely, if you make their equity valuable, make their CV more employable, and show genuine caring, you could look like Quasimodo and communicate in grunts, and you’d still be beloved.

To paraphrase John F. Kennedy, employees don’t ask what they can do for their leaders; employees ask what their leaders can do for them. But if you move the needle for your employees, they will want to move the needle for you.

The next time you’re concerned about being a good leader, don’t worry about whether your people think you look or sound like a good leader. Just worry about whether they believe that you act like one.

About the author

Chris Yeh

Chris Yeh

Chris is the VP Marketing for PBworks, partner at Wasabi Ventures, and an avid startup investor and advisor. He is also a co-author of The Alliance and serial tech entrepreneur in Silicon Valley.

  • natebbeard

    Although I haven’t had the opportunity to lead in this environment, I’m working for a seasoned CEO and entrepreneur right now, and it’s nice to see all these qualities represented in action. It’s easy to get caught in the ‘startup.com’ culture, especially in the business world, and this is a healthy reminder of what really matters. Thanks for the article, Chris!

  • cameruca4

    Often times leaders believe that because they are in the spotlight they have to act and dress a certain way. As you stated in this article, that is completely false. Employee’s simply want you to care about them and in turn they will care more about you and because of that they will do everything they can to make sure that your/their company is successful. In my brief stints as a leader I found that the more time I put into my employee’s success, the more they cared about my overall success. This is a great quick read and something every leader should focus on.

  • Jennifer Lynn

    This is very interesting because I think people think they need to sound SUPER SMART in order for people to think they are credible. As a college student who has given many speeches and oral presentations I have learned that it is important to practice, yes, but it is also important to know that if you fumble through the presentation a little bit it is okay because it is more often the fact that you have thought about how your information will affect the likes of others. I have never been a VP or president of a company nor is that the path I choose to follow down the road but I think I can relate these aspects to my teaching career because it truly matters if the teacher cares about those individuals around them. Do you often ask your employees for feedback on your performances?

  • Logan Dohmeier

    This is an interesting article applicable to a variety of people. I think that from an earlier age we are led to believe that being a leader consists of “looking good” and making important speeches to influence others. I think the statements you make regarding making correct decisions and caring for your employees is the basis of being a good leader. I completely agree with the fact that if a boss doesn’t care about me or my fellow workers, nobody will look up to him or her as a leader; we will see them merely as a lucky s.o.b. Appearance can make a good first impression but their actions will speak much louder. When I have a boss who is flexible with my hours because of circumstances regarding school, I am much more willing to work harder and to make sure I do everything I can to better the business. The best part is, he realizes it too. It really makes me want to work and put forth as much effort I can. Whereas I had a previous boss who could have cared less for the employees and only looked “straight ahead”. Lets just say nobody had anything good to say about him even though he may have been meeting “corporate standards”. In the end, show you care, and make decisions that benefit your employees because it will only come back full circle.

  • Cory Zaeske

    I think that using JFK’s quote for this article is brilliant. I’ve always been one that tries to lead by example rather than be the one that gives good speeches or anything like that. It may take a little while to earn the respect of the others around you but once that respect is earned it expands greatly. Being in that leadership position, have you found greater success with the new leadership approach and earned more respect from your peers?

  • KevinThomson32

    This is a very beneficial article because so many people get caught up on the small things like what to wear and what to say, but it really comes down to how can you help us reach our goals and contribute to the business. Great article!

  • amykahl8

    First of all that president joke made me laugh out loud. I think this is something that voters should consider when they vote for the next president! This is good advice that can be used for any type of leadership position including a team captain, teacher or coach. I would like to add that it might matter a little bit how you dress to make yourself seem credible when meeting people from the first time.

  • Jessica Andrew

    Thank you for sharing this article. I think too many people try to be smart in order for people to notice them. They are the ones who want to be the leaders. If you are a leader, it is just like you said, you want leaders who make good decisions, help accomplish goals, and care about them. A leader is putting others in front of your own needs. With you being in a leadership position, what other advice could you give me to help become a better leader?

  • Jessica Walker

    I agree in the sense that employees want a boss who values their time, helps them accomplish their goals and leads them on the right path to make good decisions. It is always nice to feel wanted and needed, especially in the work place. However, I do feel appearance does play a role as a manager. It comes down to respect –would you respect an authority running a business who shows up in sweatpants and hasn’t shaven in months? Do you want a boss who has a grumpy attitude all the time? I know I sure don’t. So yes, I see where you are coming for that managers and bosses shouldn’t be self absorbed and to make their employees feel needed. But there is still a fine line on how much they need to care about themselves to represent their business properly. What ratio do you think a business owner needs to worry about themselves versus their employees?

  • Grantrobinson15

    Such great advice! Love how you are sharing this with us as it is so much easier to start with this leadership style rather than learn the hard way. Many people believe fancy clothes and great speeches will make your company, but in reality it you. It is how committed you are and how good you are at what you do. No tangible goods can help you grow into be a great company or inspire thousands to follow you. I feel like this is a very common myth in modern business, and sadly if you don’t know this fact before you begin a business you are going to be behind the game.

  • Chris Yeh

    I advocate the airline safety rule: Put on your own oxygen mask first. If you don’t take care of yourself (e.g. eat, sleep, exercise), you won’t have the energy and focus to take care of others.

  • Chris Yeh

    Learn to listen, which means really hearing what other people are saying. Advanced leaders can hear what others are saying even when the words seem to be saying the opposite.

  • Chris Yeh

    Leadership takes time. People are rightly skeptical at first. But consistency over time will win them over.

  • Chris Yeh

    A lot of smart people make the mistake of wanting to sound smart. I prefer the Columbo approach–asking questions to help people discover the answer themselves.

  • Chris Yeh

    Isn’t it amazing how much an experienced entrepreneur seems to know instinctively?

    But the thing is, he or she wasn’t born with those instincts; those are developed over time, usually by making mistakes.

  • Chris Williams

    I really like your challenge. It’s more important to have people believe you are a good leader then to think it. Your right that leadership is not about you, but it’s about them. You don’t become a good leader by just doing what you want, you do it by being that person of trust and being the person they want. I never really though about this before and this blog really opened up my eyes to help me be a leader and to see leader qualities. Growing up playing football I remember all the leaders from my teams had these qualities you talk about and they don’t do it for them self’s but they do it for the team. I’m studying to be a teacher in my life right now. What is one pointer that you can give me to be a good leader as well as a teacher?

  • Alexandra Helena Marie Nicolof

    Although I’m not in a position as important as leading an entire company, I can still apply this advice to my own life. Putting others before ourselves is a lesson all of us are taught from a young age. The only problem is that we are all born with self-centered attitudes, so it is easier said than done. As we grow and become more experienced with life, our selfishness begins to naturally disappear; however, that does not leave me disagreeing with your advice. It is possible to dissolve our selfishness early in age if we maintain the right mindset. Thank you for sharing your perspective.

  • Drew Cox

    Chris, I love reading your blogs every week. I know I’m only going to be a physical education teacher and coach, but your bogs teach me more about life than anything. I really like this sentence in particular, “Rather, they want leaders who make good decisions, help them accomplish their goals, and care about them—in that order.” I believe i can carry these skills into my work place and playing field. Also i translated this sentence into my own career too, “If you can’t make the company successful, advance their career, and make them feel wanted, employees won’t care that you have CEO hair and give great speeches at conferences. In fact, those things will make them dislike you even more. By saying make the team successful, advancing their skills and game knowledge, making them feel wanted and an asset of the team, players won’t have the confidence to take that last shot or make that last catch. Once again thanks Chris i loved the article and sorry for putting my own twist or perspective but your overall idea was inspiring!!

  • *SIGH*…..before i started to write this comment i asked myself is there something that i am missing? When reading this article and those like it over the past week i say to myself, “this is so blatantly obvious! everyone knows this stuff. How about we talk about things that cant be figured out THAT easy.” but then again maybe the things i find common arent really so common with the majority.

  • katie bartlein

    You bring up a great point. I really enjoyed and understood what you were saying about how the CEO or leader of a company can give back to their employees. If the employees are happy and content, the CEOs job would be smoother. How long did it take you to figure out that the best way to act as a CEO doesn’t matter about looks or professionalism? but rather on giving back to the company and employees?

  • kristinwagner32

    I think this is a great article. People always think it is about them when it comes to leadership roles and how they act in front of their employees. But actually getting to know a person and caring how successful they are in a company makes them want to stay longer, are happier, which in return makes that company more successful. I agree with everything you have said in this and I feel many companies would benefit from this. However there are always boundaries on how professional you stay as long as keeping your employees happy. How do you think one handles a HUGE corporation where simply meeting and caring about every employee is nearly impossible? Thanks!!

  • justin bowers

    Thank you for this article! I really like the idea that your employees should come first because without your employees, what kind of business do you have? No business. It’s important to treat employees with the respect that they deserve and always give them the opportunity to show their skills and voice their opinions. Their input means more than you think. How do you get a leader who isn’t so keen on making it about the employees change?

  • justin bowers

    I think you bring up a great point with the question about how you would go about caring and meeting with every employee in such a huge corporation. I would assume it would be very difficult to make sure everyone is happy, but to make matters a little less hard for yourself, you could announce to the entire company that if employees would like to speak with you they are more than welcome. Whether it’s through email or a personal visit to your office. With that, it shows the employees that you are willing to get to know them even if you don’t have a lot of time to personally greet everyone.

  • Drew- I LOVE that you put your own twist to this article! That’s what we are always striving for on this blog. We would love it if every reader could apply the things they read here to their own lives, careers, businesses, families, etc. Thank you for sharing your perspective!

  • @chris_yeh:disqus aren’t you too young to know about Columbo? 😀

  • Anthony Urbanski

    I agree with this article, it’s all about the impact you have on a persons life. Taking a personal interest in your employees life goes along way it shows you genuinely care about them. I have experienced a boss who doesn’t take the time to get to know the employees and it negatively effected my experience at the company. What are some ways to get to know your employees ?

  • Sam Kuchenreuther

    Good article. I agree with you that being a good leader, you need to focus on them. Them as in the people who you are leading. So many times I see people who are in a position to be a leader and they fail because they focus on themselves. What are some ideas you would give someone who is in a role of leadership, to help them get to know their employees better?

  • Sam Kuchenreuther

    Justin, the point you made about without having employees you have no business is great! You can also say that about many other things in life. For example, a sports team. The coach is important but without the players you don’t have a team. Have you ever been in a role of leadership where you focused on the “players?”

  • Joseph

    I agree with you when you say “Many people believe fancy clothes and great speeches will make your company, but in reality its you” If your trying to start up a new company you have to wake up every morning thinking about your company. It has to be on your mind all the time. It will show others how much you care about it and intrigue others to partner up with you and let them know that you are not going to let them down.

  • Keeli Gilbert

    GREAT ARTICLE!!! I agree with everything in this article. I like being a leader and setting a good example especially for the little ones in this world. It is hard to do so if we don’t really know or understand what that really means. I know plenty of leaders who focus on themselves and not what they actually are doing to be looked up at and have others “follow” them. As a fitness instructor, it is all about the patrons wants and needs, not my own. Sure I will help them if I think they need to do more or less of something. Just depends on the situation. I think everyone needs to read this and have their eyes opened up to this. I can’t wait to share the article.

  • Jansscor16

    I agree with you, as long as the leader cares tremendously about their employees then in turn the employees will care about the leader. I find this the same for coaches to, as long as they care about their athletes and have passion for the game then they are strengthening the team also. If they are worried about their pep talks and how they look, the players lose interest and reliability in their coach.

  • kristinwagner32

    Yea that is a great idea too but sometimes people are always so nervous. I think certain corporation parties are also a good idea after reading this and getting to know people more on a social level rather than all business!

  • Jack Delabar

    I completely agree with you, Chris. I’ve had a number of employers in my life and each of them have had different qualities. The ones who have put forth the most effort into making sure that I feel important are the ones that I give the most effort. Conversely, If they make me feel like an idiot, I give very little effort and may not do the job as well.

  • BartuchGR11

    This was a great article. I found this article interesting because I wanted to know more about what leadership. This article did provide me with some more insight about that because I am always trying to be a better leader in my everyday life. I agree that leadership is about making good decisions, help accomplish goals and show that you care as a leader. I do agree that if you show those three things to people than you will get the rest you deserve as a leader.

  • Brittney Glende

    This is by far one of my favorite articles that I have read! Such an interesting article full of great advice. There are a select few people that I look up to in life as my role models/leaders. For example I will go with my parents I look up to them as role models/leaders in my life. The pointers that you listed out are exactly what my parents do for my brothers and I, they always want us to better ourselves in everything we do, they want us to accomplish our goals that we have set and they care for us. This is the prime example of a leader in my life. In the business world, I work at hospital and the case managers and supervisors I work with have been working with me since day one on just those things. I’m thankful that I have come across successful people in my life who have influenced me to become a leader myself. Thank you for posting this article Chris!

  • Josh Pritchard

    Yes, thank you for the article! Justin, I agree! If you treat your employees like crap, they won’t want to work for you and then you won’t have a business at all. If your employees are treated right and know they are wanted in the workplace then they will want to stay and work. Are there ways to get feedback from the employees that would help the company?

  • kalscheuar30

    I think my fancy pants brother should read this. Not like I ever cared about what he said or thought, but his thing was always “look the part.” While I always, and will always believe that a successful business is not just a rich dude who sits around, bosses people around and doesn’t know anything about how the company is actually run. It’s about the company as a whole. As the top dog at a business, you don’t have to be loved and adored but you do have to be respected…and definitely not hated. Workers want a boss who cares about them (to an extent of course.) How can you succeed, when your not set up for success? My current boss wants us to ask customers for upgrades on drinks to get a bonus. What he doesn’t realize is that our customers are a fixed customer base, with people who’s parents pay for their meal plan. Like they want to spend their own money? Plus, he’s the biggest prick ever and treats us terribly so why would we want to help him? I’ve gladly up sold products at previous jobs, because the manager cared about us, respected us and in return received mutual respect. I’m glad some important people realized this concept! How long did it take you to learn this?

  • Tyler Steinmetz

    This is a great article and I thank you for sharing it with all of us! As a future educator, it is my job to be a leader to every child that comes into my classroom. I need to be a role model to my students and it all begins with the traits that you laid out in your article. I agree completely with you when you say that the job of a leader is to make good decisions, help them accomplish their goals, and care about them. I don’t believe it is totally that simple, but these attributes are the basis of what you want to portray as a leader. The students that I teach will want all of these things, just like employees in a start up or in a business. A teacher is a leader, and I must become the best leader that I can be, so that I can benefit my students to the best of their abilities. What are some other traits that a leader should have that are considered essential?

  • Amy Rink

    Thank you for posting this article! I truly enjoyed reading this, through my own experience a boss with more power had only focused on appearance and the speech side of it rather than making the company better than what it can be. I loved the part that was said, “leadership isn’t about you, it’s about them” I found that to be very insightful! They are trying to make others better, to succeed! Do you have any advice on how a college student who is going to be in the “real world” soon can be a good leader?

  • Caitlin Donohue

    Thank you for this article! Great advice! That is something I have thought about in the past but it’s a great point that if you can’t lead the company well then it doesn’t matter how polished you appear. Your advice about treating employees well can eliminate so many other problems as well. If they’re treated well by the boss it is presumed this positive relationship is to be reciprocated. Do you have any other advice on being a good leader?

  • Amanda Laatsch ?

    This is a great article because it is so true. Only your
    first impression is based off of how someone looks or how someone talks. The
    rest is how they lead and how they go about their day to day responsibilities.
    I would rather have a leader who can help the company accomplish goals rather
    than someone who dresses nicely every day. But I do think that the way someone
    dresses does say a little something about them, it definitely has a good
    impression on people.

  • vitalecm03

    This is so true! I know my managers make speeches before work to sound like a good leader but how they act on the job and how they treat their employees makes me dislike them even more and not like my job. I will definitely take this to heart and remember this for my future. Even in community service opportunities that come my way, there are so many people that do not care about other people and who they do it for, they only care about themselves and I try not to be this person. Thank you for this!

  • MeierKM23

    I could not agree more with this!! I was told in my sophomore year of high school to “be a leader” by a family friend and it has stuck with me now almost done with my sophomore year of college. It has stuck with me in sports, group projects, and the oldest sister to two younger brothers. Many of us worry too much about what people think of us, and I know I do the same, but am learning to let that go. As long as your a good leader, and treat people how you want to be treated, you’ll surely be liked and enjoy your job more. Thanks for sharing this!

  • treehugger90

    Great article! I agree that it is about the employees! This article makes me think about the future for me because I am thinking about opening my own business. Reading this helps me on what I should do later on.

  • Brandon

    Thanks for the article!! this is true because working right at athletic republic is that they want you to be a leader and make sure you teach athletes to do everything correctly. I agree with the quote ” Leadership isn’t about you, its about them” that just makes sense when you should work together to have great leadership.

  • lex_alwaysMIA

    I agree, but when will these employers learn this valuable lesson? The decline in great customer service is one of these reasons. I believe that just because you’re the employee, your input should be a factor. How can you consider yourself a leader, if you can’t follow? Insightful article.

  • DrivenbySuccess

    Great Article. I think the points that are pressed in this post are great and to add I would say that I bet that you had a ton of humility throughout the starting of your career leading up to your latest accomplishments. I have accomplished a ton and can name them off but I want more in life so I don’t speak of them too much because its not about me its about the people that I touch while accomplishing things.

  • mhansen11

    Thank you for this article! I really liked how you talked about the importance of being a leader and it not being about you, but about others. That’s crucial in all you do. If you’re too focused on yourself, nothing will progress with your team and what you need to accomplish. I would just ask here how other people could talk to their “leaders” and how to show them that they need to maybe focus a bit more on others and not themselves so much..
    thank you again!

  • jack lomax

    I’ve always thought this. I’ve never respected anyone who walks around with a sense of entitlement with their head shoved far up their own arse. No-one is going to like working for someone like that. But if you make an environment/position that benefits the workers and show you have their interests in mind, you are going to go far.

  • Leahrebout

    Very helpful thank you for posting! It makes sense that being a leader isn’t about you it’s about the people you are leading. I agree with your quote at the end “employees don’t ask what they can do for their leaders; employees ask what they’re leaders can do for them.” They are following your example, and if you’re only focused on public speeches and appearance it is not helping them at all, they need a more personal lead. How much do you think a leader’s decisions influences all of the people around them?

  • Connor Driscoll

    Thank you for posting this excellent article! I believe that this applies to everyone because at some point we are all either leaders or are being lead. I love the quote at the end because it is so true. For example, I have had supervisors who simply want to appear in charge and I have also had supervisors who truly care for their employees, treat them well, and ask what they can do for them rather than what can you do for me which is too often the case. Chris, what percentage of leaders do you think actually follow your advice?

  • ZakFritz

    This post makes a lot of sense. Focus more on the running of the company or whatever you are doing rather than how to run something. Even though this is the case would it ever make sense to do these things like dress up and practice speeches?

  • Kobajr18

    Thank you for the article. I think the most important thing to take from this article is that its about what you can do to help your employees, not how professional you can be doing it. The most important part about being a leader is helping those that are around you make decisions and further there career. Agree with everything you said here. A question I do have though, is how as a younger leader do you earn the respect of your older co-workers?

  • duongh1

    I think the ability to make good decision is the most important, but other things like appearance and speeches also needed. You don’t have to worry a lot about your hairstyle but you do need look clean and neat. You don’t have to worry a lot about your speeches but you do need to be able to speak fluently and passionately.

  • Kyle Schiedemeyer

    You said exactly what I was thinking. Sometimes presentation alone can help sell yourself to somebody. I am personally a big fan of the “look good, feel good, play good” quote for my sport football. But being able to present yourself in a professional matter is going to be a life long skill that everybody needs to develop sooner than later, especially college age kids like myself.

  • jkailing

    Everybody could learn something from this article. Everybody
    is going to have to be a leader at one point in their life, and I think the
    author did a great job stating that leading isn’t about the status you have its
    about the things you do for the company. I think the hardest part of being a
    leader is not only doing what’s good for you but also keeping in mind doing what’s
    best for the other people in the company, you have to put the others before
    yourself to become a great leader. One question I would ask the author is do
    you think being a good leader is something that can be learned or is it
    something that some people naturally have?

  • tjbaumeister08

    Thank you for sharing this article. I agree that leadership is about them and not us. I care more about how my boss acts towards me and runs things than if she looks like a good leader. Once you learned leadership was about them and not you, did you notice a difference in how the employees were towards you?

  • GraceFelion

    Thank you for this! I sometimes question my ability to lead but this helped me to see that I really am a good leader because I care so much about others and what I’m doing. Also in my different jobs there are bosses that I like more than others. The ones I like the most genuinely care about me and what we do as a company. How long did it take you to feel comfortable with having your own company at such a young age?

  • AndreaBehling

    Chris, you make a few great points here, thank you for the post. You’re only as good as the people around you, and if you can bring the best out of those people, they’ll respect you and value your opinion and vision. I’ve held a leadership position as the editor of a student newspaper, where I was managing peers that were two and three years older than me. I realized in that role that my focus was on what I could do for them, and that one of my biggest strengths was connecting with people on a personal level. But I do think there is still importance in carrying yourself a certain way—but that should come later. You have to prove yourself first through hard work and your more genuine qualities. But I’ve always been a firm believer in leading by example, and if you speak and dress professionally, I think that reflects positively on your credibility as a leader.

  • barczakdm08

    Great post! I totally agree with you. Without the people around buying into what you tell them, you would be nowhere. What really matters is if the people you are leading are making strides and becoming better workers. Like you said, you can have the CEO hair and speeches but what it all comes down to is if a leader can make his or hers followers/business better.

  • PKroening

    Thanks for sharing! I agree with you one hundred percent. I have had employers who have been both of the kinds of people mentioned in this article. There was one who only cared that he looked professional and that his speeches to us workers were like he was talking to the US senate. I have also had an employer who just genuinely cared about us, and that is the employer that I still work for to this day. How do you think a younger leader can gain the trust and acceptance of the older workers?

  • turbo_frey

    Thank you for this inspiring article Chris. I agree that great leaders ask what they can do for others, instead of what others can do for them. This here shows that great leaders are always looking to help others strive for the best and to become great leaders themselves. A great leader will guide a pathway for others to follow and will always be there for others when needed. Leaders also let those following them build their own confidence and strength by letting them be in charge of their own lives and decisions. Like you said, you are only as strong as those around you, and just as much as they need you, you also need them. What are some other ways you can decipher a bad leader from a good leader within the workplace?

  • Evan Hibbs

    Chris great article, thank you. I totally agree that great leadership is about knowledge and helping others. Looking good and trying to impress isn’t what good leadership is about. Looking good is for first impressions, not long term leadership skills. I am a JV basketball coach and one thing I’ve learned after watching the varsity coach, my colleague who is 20 years older than me, is that it isn’t about looks or great emotional speeches. It is about what you know and what you can do to make your players better. Eventually, long thought-out speeches become predictable and aren’t always what the team needs. I learned that the hard way this year. Do you think this is common for young people in positions of authority to stretch out speeches at times?

  • Taylor Schulz

    Thanks for posting this article, Chris! I agree with your opinion all the way. What does looks and speech really have to do with being a truly great leader? not much in my opinion. I too believe that a great leader only has great potential if they tend to the needs of their employees and help them become successful individually to make the whole work. A successful leader is not only there to look out for themselves and make their own success, but they are there to help others/employees as well. A team is only as strong as their leader and without a great leader who can communicate and help their employees, success will be a hard thing to reach. When did you first realize the real important aspects of being a great leader and how did you come to realize it? Thanks again for posting!

  • John Darrow

    Thank you for sharing this. What was said here is a great testament to running a great company. I watched my dad run a business for almost 28 years and I feel what ultimately led it to failure was what you discussed here. Focusing on making people think you know what your doing isn’t the same as actually having the knowledge, and employees can read that. I also the reference to selecting the president too. I think that statement is very accurate when not only discussing leadership positions but how people, in general, worry too much about just fooling others into thinking they are “better” than they really are.

  • pinsolera

    Thank you for posting this article Mr. Yeh. This is a very insightful article and I completely agree with these statements. As a future teacher, I am trying to hone my leadership skills to aid and help children become better in their lives. I believe that without being positive and helping them, a leader will fail. And by helping those being led, you also help yourself become better. To anyone trying to be a teacher like myself or trying to be a better leader, they would clearly enjoy this article. One question; when was there a situation you had to use this advice to help lead someone?

  • Caitlin Snyder

    Thank you for posting this great article! I am a leader on a sports team and I couldn’t agree more with these statements. Leaders must be positive, selfless, and helpful to all those involved. A team is only as strong as their leadership, and without a bold, knowledgable leader the team will fail. Thank you for the advice!

  • Matthew Gust

    Thank you for this article. I find this to be very true. People will always follow a leader by their actions not by words. It is one of the oldest cliches, but “lead by example” is still the most effective. I think for employees sometimes when people see their leader and the leader is just saying what they want to hear the employee starts to question whether or not you are trustworthy. When trust is in question and you are the leader you have some big problems. Nothing can ruin a group or startup faster than thinking your leader untrustworthy. When did you come to realize this?

  • schrammjm26

    Great article! I think that the defining word here that I kept thinking over and over again is loyalty. Loyalty works both ways, your employees know if your willing to go to bat for them then they will not only feel like they should for you but they will actually want to. It is human nature to try to pay back the kindnesses to the people that have given them to you. Getting to know someone as a person instead of an employee or a client is how you establish a meaningful relationship that will make that person want to help you accomplish your dreams as you have helped them accomplish theirs. This not only pertains to business but any aspect of life involving others.

  • kolinjk29

    This is a very insightful article. I believe this article has a very true meaning behind it and something that most employees overlook. Many individuals may not realize this at a young age and go into starting up a company in the wrong direction. I can relate this article. A few months ago I worked at a restaurant that was just starting up and the boss had no idea what he was doing and it showed. I seemed like he only cared about himself rather than the people that run the place, his employees. I believe that employees need to benefit from the job they take. If they can’t they should move on and find a business that does. A question a have for you is when did you begin to realize that these aspects should be demonstrated in that order? Thanks again for sharing

  • Branden Unger

    Thank you for the article! I agree that being a leader is not just about looking good and being able to speak well, but more about showing the people you are leading that you genuinely care about what they have to say and what their needs are. Commanding respect in the eyes of those around you is a difficult thing to do and you have to show them that you respect them as well if you want to see it in return.

  • Ryan R

    Thank you for this article. I totally agree with the message that if you genuinely care about your employees and put in the necessary effort to fulfill the needs of the company, they will most likely recognize your efforts. If you show the people you work with that you respect them, rather than acting like an authority figure over them. Have you ever worked for an employer who didn’t respect his/her employees?

  • Andersonjc16

    Very nice article, I have always felt that in the role of leadership it really isn’t all about you. The people you are leading having to be accountable and want the same things you do in order for all of you to succeed. Thats why i like the whole issue on the “boss role” of work. Many times if the person in charge is more of a leader than boss the relationships are formed better and most times people gain a sense of this person cares for me more than just employer to employee relationship.

  • ghilonipt09

    I have worked for an employer specifically in food service that did not respect the individuals schedules an example was that someone who worked at the place I worked had a funeral to attend and came back to work the next week and was fired even though they informed the manager. I think that is a little harsh. All the people at work should be treated the same and at my school work everyone is treated the same across the board.

  • Alivia Holman

    I agree with both of you but is it hard sometimes to be positive to those members who are negative? I know that people can’t be positive all the time but there are just some people who you try and be positive toward but they just take it as a negative sense. How would you suggest approaching a situation like that?

  • Caitlin Snyder

    Yeah that is a tough situation, and there will always be people like that, I know plenty! I just try to set aside there negativity and combat it with something positive. Constant negativity is a personality trait, and it’s hard to change someone’s personality. Usually they just have to figure it out for themselves, and some never do.

  • Caitlin Snyder

    I also worked somewhere that did not respect scheduling, and it was extremely irritating. I agree with you that everyone should be treated the same; as humans. Sometimes things come up and there’s nothing we can do about it!

  • Caitlin Snyder

    I completely agree with you! “Lead by example” is a phrase I grew up with and it definitely works, especially being on an athletic team! I also think it is very important for people to have full trust in their leader, and when that is in question the whole thing could go under!

  • Caitlin Snyder

    I keep coming back to this article! It really helped me prepare for my future leadership role as captain of my softball team. I know that is not on a large scale like a CEO or anything, but any leadership role is always tough. It is hard to constantly put others before yourself, but you are only as strong as your weakest link. I just hope that the season works out with as little controversy as possible. Thanks once again for this awesome article, it really has helped!

  • Matthew Gust

    I always try to live by this phrase. People will follow a leader by example. Another phrase is if you talk the talk you better walk the walk. This is another example of leading by example.

  • Steven Bichler

    This article is still very good. Your closing thoughts are what got me the most The next time you’re concerned about being a good leader, don’t worry about whether your people think you look or sound like a good leader. Just worry about whether they believe that you act like one.” It’s the people around you are the one’s who determine your leadership, not yourself.

  • Steven Bichler

    I am a future teacher as well, and their have been several times where I have had to use this. When observing at a local school a kid asked me if I could help him with something. And even though it would inconvenience me and would delay the start of class a bit, you do what you have to do to help and be a good leader. Leadership is tough to obtain, but once you do it is a great feeling to have and one you should never take for granted.

  • Slepicka12

    Thank you for your article. This article really got me thinking about my leadership rolls as president of a club at school.

  • zmmarti1

    Excellent definition of what a real leader is. I think people got lost and forgot about the importance of good leadership in business. I totally relate a situation at work with what you are saying, people think the leader is “the best” because he dress nice and is cute. But it comes to my attention when he does not care about team members relationship, he is not a team player, everything is the same every day, there are no goals to meet and no innovation. Every lead as a manager, so the next question is what manager do about creating good leaders?

  • yencheskcj27

    Great article on leadership. Great leaders do their best to better those who follow them. I think one of the best qualities of a leader is someone who can listen to the concerns of others, seek to understand them, and clearly communicate what is going to happen. This along with a leader continuing to be coachable and realize that they don’t have all the answers makes a person that people will want to follow.

  • Luke Drumel

    What a great inspiring leadership article, I really liked how you referenced JFK and how it does really matter that the CEO respects and cares about his employees. That extra effort to look out for our own truly and utterly makes a night and day difference in whether someone will work their ass off for you.

  • knapprl17

    This is a great article on leadership. It is important for a person who is in a leadership position to be doing it for the right reasons. They should want to help their teammates, coworkers or employees, not just themselves. This article pointed out what a good leader is worried about and what they should focus on.

  • Carly Konkol

    Great article. It can be easy for a lot of us, when climbing the buisness ladder, to remember who we are, the things we value and who we were before we reached the top. Even people in the highest ranks of a company should want to help their hourly employees just as much as their Vice President. A leader is someone who helps and encourages.

  • Brittney Glende

    I agree with you Luke that this is an inspiring leadership article! I also liked how he referenced JFK! I think that it is extremely important that the CEO respects and cares about his employees, by the CEO leading such a great example leads to better work ethic with in the company. This shows high quality skills and your employees will take after how you treat them.

  • Ananda Conlon

    In my opinion, I think that a good leader is someone that is relatable. Graduating at age 19 is not relatable. This sets credentials, but someone that I respect as a leader is someone that is willing to help people in all stages of the organization complete their duties. If someone is going to tell you what to do because they are “superior,” they need to demonstrate that they are not “above” doing that task as well. That is a leader that achieves respect from me.

  • JeremyWahl

    Thanks for the article. When we get a higher roll than most it is tough to stay humble, and not act bigger than everyone and act bigger than the ultimate goal is. A true leader helps everyone around them because without the people below you doing their job and being successful means that you will not be successful on top. Growing up I was always told you are as strong as your weakest person on the team, and I believe it is important to help everyone out no matter what level in the business you are.

  • Natasha Tynczuk

    I couldn’t agree more with you. The best leaders are the ones that are humble, and don’t think they are above everyone else. They treat everyone equally. In my experience, those are the leaders I respect the most.

  • hirthjp18

    That’s a good point there Ananda. If a leader believe they are superior than the people than that can bring some problems. I was always told that a leader serves the people and not the other way around. A leader who will work besides their people and someone who doesn’t think their above a task the people would do.

  • Shaquille Boswell-Downey

    I was told in high school to “be a leader” by a friend and it has stuck with me all through my life. Many of us worry too much about what people think of us, and I know I do the same, but am learning to let that go. As long as your a good leader, and treat people how you want to be treated, you’ll surely be liked and enjoy your job more.

  • Eric H

    Thanks for the post. I agree with this. A great leader not only treats other colleagues and coworkers with respect, but everyone under them as well. A leader needs to be enthusiastic with whatever they do and lead by example to his/her followers. Another great quality is being open to others and receptive to what other people have to say.

  • shackletka05

    Thank you for sharing! I do believe its all about the way the leaders are helping the people. Successful leaders do not place themselves above everyone else but rather comes next to them to bring guidance into each project. They treat people as individuals and also know how to make strong confident decisions.

  • thomas kearney

    This was a great article. I found this article interesting because I wanted to know more about what leadership. This article did provide me with some more insight about that because I am always trying to be a better leader in my everyday life. I agree that leadership is about making good decisions, help accomplish goals and show that you care as a leader. I do agree that if you show those three things to people than you will get the rest you deserve as a leader.

  • Cossioj14

    This a great article and its important to remember that great leaders make for great employees(usually). If you believe in them they’ll believe in you and especially if you help them accomplish their goals.

  • mywa4360

    “They want leaders who make good decisions, help them accomplish their goals, and care about them.” Even on the micro level of completing class projects in groups, I try to take into account the motivation of every individual, and see how I can infuse my own motives into the project.
    To add to this, I was once told that the best way to retain employees is to ensure they have mastery over their craft, autonomy over their decisions, and purpose in the work that they do. What more could any of us ask for. I plan to treat the work place as if it were not my own, but theirs and I am merely a facilitator of the potential they have yet to release.

  • Amy Rink

    Right away this article got my attention by just the title! In one of my current classes we are talking about different kinds of leaders and what it is that makes up that leader. Just from the title I could gather that this type of leader is known as a “servant leader”. A servant leader is someone who puts themselves bottom on the totem pole, making sure others are being cared for and things are getting accomplished all around them. That’s why I really like the quote you wrote, “Leadership isn’t about you; it’s about them”.

  • bdelbian

    Thank you so much for your comments Amy! I also really liked the quote “Leadership isn’t about you; it’s about them” and it was what really drew me to this article. I actually led a leadership discussion/training this last Saturday for work and it was such a great experience to be able to hear so many different views of leadership. Many people said that a leader should be understanding and that they should be willing to do even the smallest tasks that their own employees do. I brought up the concept of being a servant leader and that is why I am glad that you brought it into the discussion.
    In preparation for the training I interviewed the director of my department and one of the things that I asked him was how he evaluates success. He said that that was a difficult question to answer because he believe that even failure can be successful as long as his employees or team members as he likes to call them, are able to learn something from that. He said that you can learn a lot from failure and he even evaluates his own accomplishments based on what his team members are able to accomplish. He is a great leader because he focuses on those around him and wants to help/see them succeed.

  • Colin HIckey

    I really like this view. I never thought about using this approach in class projects, but it really makes sense. As a student, I think that I should apply this more to projects and other things instead of just worrying about myself.

  • AndreaOlsen22

    This article proves great points! Being a leader is not about how you look and how you speak, it’s what you “do” for the company and people apart of it. It’s about what you do to make the company successful and efficient. To start, you want your employers to know you care about them and enjoy their presence. With and open friendly environment the people of the company will enjoy working there and coming in every day. When you enjoy something you do, you work hard at it and are open to learning new things. The leader can teach things to people that have the will to learn opposed to those that don’t.

  • milleram97

    Being a leader is something that a lot of people think is an easy task. In reality, it is quite the opposite. It’s quite the opposite. It’s about understanding your team members individually, learning how to work with their strengths and weaknesses and having that shared goal be what pushes you forward.
    Anyone can dress up in nice clothes and say words that encourage and show others that they’re intelligent, but what companies demand and need from employer and employee is mutual comprehensibility. There is no “I” in team. Sure, some things need to be thought out separately and hearing 20 other voices from the room might be unhelpful at one moment, but later on when you’re trying to launch something new, then the work of a team is beyond beneficial.

  • Sara Fuller

    I also think that its really important to focus on the people that you are leading instead of yourself as the leader. If you are a good leader and care about your team together you will be able to achieve great things and most likely have fun doing along the way. Great article!

  • Logan Bertrand

    Great article! I love the perspective on where we should be focusing our nerves. It isn’t always about us! We need to have the leadership so that the people that we work with or the people that look to us are being thought of. Appearances aren’t everything!

  • Sarah Kasiurak

    I too think it is very important to focus on the wellness of the one’s you are leading. I think if you focus on the team, then everything else will eventually come together. Great point!

  • DavidMizelle1

    Exactly right! Leaders and managers (not always the same) are facilitators for those around them. They need to give their peers, subordinates, etc. the proper tools and training necessary to succeed which means leaders need to be able to adapt to specific situations, personalities, etc.

  • Kaylie Mae Kuhnke

    i loved how you tied J.F.K. into this article. very inspirational man and his quote “do not ask what your country can do for you, ask what can you do for your country” is iconic. leaders are just poster children for a larger group who need someone to convey what they as a group are trying to say. i do think leaders are important they are able to grasp attention and get what is needed to be said out for everyone to hear.

  • Kaylie Mae Kuhnke

    i agree appearances are not everything but i feel that in todays society they are everything. how you look and act for some people is a representation of who you are and you dont want someone representing as a leader if they dont appeal to the public.

  • Travis Mattice

    Well said Logan. It is definitely not all about us. Leaders and leadership play a huge role in how things are run and how stuff gets done.

  • Travis Mattice

    I like how you brought up “servant leader”. I think that more of the people we look to and depend on should follow this more. I feel like a great example is our government. If people would put aside their differences and stop worrying about how much money is in their pocket things would be way better.

  • Nathan Tessar

    I agree that appearances are not everything but at the same time people look at appearances and base your ideas on what they see. It’s your first impression and how you conduct yourself is key. Now, I’m not saying that people with tattoos or piercings are bad people but some people might not hire a person who has a bunch of tattoos or piercings strictly because of their appearance.

  • Radaya123

    It’s never just about me. Team has me in it for a reason and a leader is a leader if they do not have followers.

  • Chris Glaser

    This is great at showing that it is really easy to miss the point as a first-time leader in a company. Ultimately, success is what matters and drives the group, just like how in sports “winning cures everything”. However, I still think there’s tremendous value in looking the part and that relationships with employees should be right up there with the success of the company since they drive that.