published on January 17, 2017 - 5:20 AM
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I read a disturbing statistic recently. A recent survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 97 percent of adults over age 25 years do not spend any time learning new skills during the day.

Another survey indicated that only 13 percent of workers worldwide and 30 percent in the U.S. are fully engaged in their jobs — meaning 70 percent or more of workers aren’t performing as they should or could.

Can you imagine that? We have capable employees in our organizations with tremendous potential, and yet they are not putting forth any effort to grow themselves, their position or their on-job productivity.

What does it say about the future of our businesses, our communities and our government? If people truly are a company’s greatest asset, what impact does this disengagement mean to your company. And, moreover, what does one need to do to counter this effect?

Traditionally, one’s company is never stronger than its leader. If this tide is to be turned, the business community must focus on who is allowing this to happen, and most of the time, it is the person at the top.

We are in the part of the year in which America’s major sports all collide with a blur of activities. Football is at its peak; baseball championships just wrapped up and basketball is just warming up. Because of this, win/loss records are determining who will be fired as coaches and who will be anointed as champions.

In most cases, it is always the top leader who gets the axe. The players (insert employees here) have the abilities most of the time, but it is the leader (coach) that is changed. The players had not bought into their leader.

One can’t help but wonder if those same statistics apply to business leadership. Are our managers/owners putting forth an effort to grow? Does the top person — every day — want to explore how to be better in rallying the troops to a single cause?

John Wooden won 10 national championships as coach of UCLA.

He describes that leaders in business should possess “the same qualities of a good parent: character, consistency, dependability, accountability, knowledge, good judgment, selflessness, respect, courage, discipline, fairness and structure.”

In his view an organization’s team in business is nothing less than an extended family.

Infamous former CEO of General Electric, Jack Welch, likes to compare leadership to the sport of curling, where they have those sweepers out in front helping the team get to its intended destination. Welch states, “You have to get rid of the obstacles. You can’t tell people to grow and take risks when you’ve got 18 rules that keep them from acting.” He points out, to be a good leader, one has got to create an environment where your people can grow.

If our community and our companies are to continue to grow, we need to beware of becoming one of the aforementioned statistics. We need to put in place vehicles in which your staff can embrace growth. And you — as their leader — will do the same.

Someone once said that if you get leadership right everything thing else falls into place.

And while the leader finds the dream and then the people, it is the people that find the leader in the dream.

For the sake of your organization, don’t become THAT statistic.

Al Smith, former president and CEO of the Fresno Chamber of Commerce, serves as a leadership coach for local companies as part of the John C. Maxwell leadership-training program. For more information, contact Smith at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..”>alsmith@alsmithpartners.com.

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