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The 4 Most Important Leadership Traits to Retain Top Talent

  • 5 min
  • July 20, 2015
    • Leadership
    • The Best of the Best of the Best Sir
    • Employee Retention

As an employee benefit consultant, my job is to help employers attract and retain the very best employees. 

Visionary business owners and senior leaders understand and appreciate the value of quality people. We are all looking to hire and keep the "A" players. 

Moreover, many of us know from experience how devastating it can be to make a bad hire, or lose a key person. From lost business to unhappy customers, not to mention training and onboarding and employee development down the drain, turnover hurts.

Many people might guess that a combination of pay and benefits is the key element to getting and keeping the best and the brightest. But in fact, most of the time that is NOT the most important consideration for top performers. 

Now it is certainly naive to presume that pay and benefits aren't important, because of course they are. 

However, I can speak from personal experience, as well as anecdotal and empirical evidence, that culture, purpose, and meaning are what truly motivates your superstars. 

Highly skilled and highly intelligent people understand that they can get a high paying job almost anywhere, particularly in a robust economy with low employment. 

So, what can leaders do to go above and beyond the aforementioned "Captain Obvious" attractions of pay and benefits?

1. Be a servant leader.

Understand the responsibility that is placed upon your shoulders requires you to conduct yourself with the highest level of respect and dignity toward others. Being the King (or Queen) isn't about putting yourself above everyone else, but rather showing an attitude of humility, generosity, grace, and kindness. Employees are naturally attracted to an organization that places a value on EVERY MEMBER of the team. Your actions will be reflected in everyone else.

2. Maintain a culture of implicit honesty and integrity.

" The best of the best" don't need to cut corners or wallow around in "gray areas" in order to succeed, and they don't respect people who do. Creating a culture of "always doing the right thing" for clients, employees, strategic partners, and vendors will create a sense of satisfaction, pride, and honor in your people that cannot be created any other way. 

3. Communicate openly.

Top performers don't make excuses, nor are they (typically) so self-absorbed that they are unwilling to accept another idea or opinion. Having numbers 1 and 2 in place above will further promote an honest and respectful interchange of opinions and ideas among people who know they are valued, and live and work in a spirit of kindness and mutual admiration.

4. Continue to promote personal growth and opportunity.

The best and the brightest are always looking to improve and advance, and they want to be continually challenged. Not every organization has the resources or the scale to offer an ongoing promotion track for each and every employee, but encouraging them to continue to grow in their position, to continue to master their position, and to develop corollary and ancillary skills in their field will increase their level of overall satisfaction. 

Adopting these principles in your organization, along with a competitive compensation package, will go a long way toward making your firm an employer of choice, with a culture of purpose and meaning. 

Which in turn will help you to attract and retain "The best of the best of the best, sir!"

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