Because people are the most important part of an organization, people-focused leadership is required to ensure success. As we consider the attributes of a people-focused leader in this article, remember that when an organization prioritizes the importance of employees its productivity, retention and revenue increase.

People-focused leaders put employees first. They recognize that people come before business, customers and Wall Street. This is counterintuitive for most business people, especially Wall Street. Costco is a great example of a people-focused organization with high wages, benefits and internal growth opportunities. Despite ongoing pressure from Wall Street to reduce wages and benefits, Costco adheres to the principles and values that have made it successful. In fact Costco leaders believe that its high wages and benefits lead to greater retention (94%) and productivity.

People-focused leaders demonstrate their commitment to employees by investing in coaching the employees. Coaching has many benefits including building mutual trust. As leaders help develop the competencies and skills of the employee, they model the importance of a coaching culture. A focus on coaching is highly correlated with business performance, employee engagement, and retention. Leaders recognize that every touch point and coaching moment is an opportunity to listen, teach and inspire. In fact, every action and behavior is a chance to increase trust.

Leaders must be honest, candid and vulnerable. The benefits of this type of leadership are that it builds the trust and confidence of your people. Vulnerable leaders breed employee loyalty and greater performance. Candid leaders earn the respect and admiration of employees. People-focused leaders demonstrate through their behavior what employees desire; a leader who is “real.”

Leaders trust employees but hold them accountable for performance. When employees commit to action, the leader always follows up with the question, “How will I know it is done?” Leaders give employees the autonomy to do the job how they choose while expecting the employee to return and report with updates on the actions they committed to take.

Finally leaders and people-focused companies recognize that focusing on employees and developing a strong people-based culture is a competitive advantage. In my research I have found very few companies that are good at putting people first. Most companies are too short sighted to believe that employees are the answer. When companies do focus on employees, productivity, retention and revenues increase.

If you are interested in finding out more about how to develop a People-Focused leadership approach, please contact me via LinkedIn or my email at